With the year marching on the time had come for a trip to the scenic North Wales before the great UK weather put any thoughts of that region out of the mind for another year. Initial planning included a trip to the Flintshire coast for a stop off at the Castle and the “Fun Ship” the Duke of Lancaster via breakfast at the Old Stores Café in Pontblyddyn, Nr Mold. Rig also added route options so we travelled with weather dependant modifications, it pays to cover all bases.
Saturday morning arrived with the BBC Weatherman not passing on hopeful news, the rain band looked like it was going to deposit plenty of precipitation on our route but with a promise that it would pass and offer clear skies. The quickest way for us to hit the region is via the M6 and M54, the M6 not being the best option on any trip but needs must. The Birmingham traffic proved to be fairly light which was a good sign for the day. The M54 was also eaten up fairly smartish and delivered up onto the A5 to circumnavigate Shrewsbury. So far, the weather had held out, however this was to change as we crossed into Cymru where we met up with the BBC’s meteorological departments promise of said precipitation perfik!
The remainder of phase one was undertaken in mixed conditions dark grey clouds and rain of varying intensity. We hade just about outrun the weather by the time we got to the Café. Parking up in an empty car park we had the opportunity to browse the fantastic amount of memorabilia in comfort, there were more knick-knacks to view than many museums and was genuinely interesting stuff, providing you are into that sort of thing.
A large breakfast duly ordered and consumed it was time to head off further North into deepest Flintshire. The weather was on our side now, just dark grey and drizzle which continued to cling onto us as we hit the car park by the costal fortress.
The ruins of Flint Castle are well worth a view. The modern-day custodians of the castle have thoughtfully installed a fantastic stainless-steel spiral staircase into the north tower, this is tricky to negotiate in the wet with motorcycle boots which offer fairly rubbish grip on the soles but with care it wasn’t too bad. Waiting for the intrepid explorer at the top of the staircase is a viewing platform offering unbroken views over the estuary and surrounding area, a great photo opportunity and a just reward for the climb.
From the castle it was a short jaunt further up the coast to the resting place of the Duke of Lancaster, this vessel was beached in 1979 with the purpose of turning it into a “Fun Ship” offering functions and the associated “Fun”. Without going into the finer politics of the venture this never came to fruition and the ship is slowly rusting away, it will no doubt be in situ for many years to come so long as it can keep arm’s length from the scrap merchants who must be lining up for a crack at breaking it up. It looks a very sad sight, not like the weather at this point, the sun came out and Rig tempted fate and took off a layer of clothing which turned out to be a good call as the remainder of the day kept pace with the weather forecast and remained dry and sunny interval aplenty.
From the funship, we followed the coast road through Prestatyn and Rhyl, this is a misnomer as you can’t see the sea from the road so it proved a poor choice of route, busy traffic and plenty of traffic lights, still you can’t win them all.
At our decision point of Corwen the improvement in the weather brought into play one of the option routes so it was right onto the A5 rather than left towards home. A short trip along the A5 past the Rhug estate we turned off left onto the A494 to Bala, tuning North onto the A4212 up to Afon Tryweryn for a photo stop at the lake. It was a bit overcast but photos taken we were off through Snowdonia National Park on Rigs preferred route towards Ffestiniog and onto Harlech and a favoured café offering fine coffee and cakes
After refreshments and a bit of discussion regarding routes we decided to risk the Barmouth traffic and headed south down the wonderful coast road into Barmouth and out to Dolgellau on the equally fine A496 and onward to Welshpool and Shrewsbury where the scenery ran out at the A5 leaving a swift return to the Midlands by the same route whence we came
A great trip out made all the better for the kind Welsh weather and credit to the BBC for their accurate assessment of the days offering from the gods. A round trip of 375miles gave the bikes a good workout too and not a beat missed.