North Wales road weekend with Saddle Skedaddle

After last month’s Lake District trip, I was looking forward to guiding another Saddle Skedaddle holiday. The Welsh town of Bala on the edge of Snowdonia National Park was our picturesque base for this long weekend.

Tea and Welsh Cakes
Tea and Welsh Cakes

The weekend got off to a good start on arrival at the accommodation on Friday with a fine spread of afternoon tea with Welsh cakes. All fuelling up was appreciated on the first climb of the weekend as the road reached up to the 500m contour at the head of the Cwm Hirnant valley.

Climbing high to the head of Cwm Hirnant
Climbing high to the head of Cwm Hirnant

The rewards were great though: a fun descent down to Lake Vyrnwy/Llyn Efyrnwy and a tea stop to keep us going. The gentle road around the lake was a chance to soak in the beautiful surroundings and spectacular Victorian engineering of the reservoir structures.

Dam for Llyn Efyrnwy
Dam for Llyn Efyrnwy

More undulations eventually brought us to the final climb of the day, a steadily rising road which eventually paid us back with a long descent back down to Bala.

The forecast for Day 2 was promising some rain. Undeterred, of course, the group started on with the long gradual climb (can you see a pattern here?) out of Bala. Although cloudy, it was warm and things were looking up for the day. A spin around the other side of Lake Vyrnwy/Llyn Efyrnwy brought us to the foot of one of the routes to the top of the famous Bwlch y Groes. The sign at the bottom reading “unsuitable for heavy vehicles and trailers” meant for challenging cycling and an adventurous drive in the van… with trailer! Narrow road successfully negotiated, lunch was enjoyed at the top with some particularly curious sheep for company.

Friendly sheep
Friendly sheep

By this time the wind had picked up and although cold at the top we had excellent views over north Wales. With all that height gained another brilliant descent delivered us down to Llyn Tegid and to Bala, the weather getting more sunny and summery the further down we went.

Descent from Bwlch y Groes
Descent from Bwlch y Groes

Once back a few opted to do a bonus 15 mile loop on some fantastic quiet and smooth back lanes to the south west of Bala, followed by an ice cream in the sunshine to round off another great day on the bike.

With progressively tiring legs, day 3 was shorter in distance but still managed to cross several contours in the route profile. This ride set out in a different direction from town, to the north and east. Bare cliffs and moorlands gave the terrain a markedly more rugged character to the previous two days, yet interspersed with bluebell carpeted woodland, showing off the variety of scenery in this part of the world.

Some of the millions of bluebells out in Wales
Some of the millions of bluebells out in Wales

Eventually the final climb of the long weekend was surmounted and all that remained was a the descent back to Bala and lunch. Another great trip riding bikes!