Every turn along the North Wales’ Coastline brings a postcard-perfect view: Bright yellow flowers blanket green headland that slopes towards the Irish Sea, wild ponies roam freely along the cliff tops and castle turrets rise from the forested hillsides. Cycling the North Wales Coastal Route is a memorable adventure on one the best stretches of coastline in the UK.
Starting in Holyhead, this Collection guides you along the North Wales Coastal Route around the tip of Anglesey and along the coast to Chester. To give you plenty of time to explore this gorgeous stretch of coastline, I’ve split the 156-mile (251-km) route into five stages which average around 24.8 miles (40 km) per day. As always, you can combine or split the routes to suit your fitness level and schedule.
North Wales’ coastline is incredibly varied. You can explore natural wonders such as the sweeping Church Bay and Little Orme headland, as well as fascinating historical sites. The route passes Iron Age settlements, spectacular former copper mines, Bronze Age relics and magnificent castles such as Conwy Castle, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. And, of course, after a fun day in the saddle, you can relax on the beach, which is never far away on this ride.
As is often the case with British coastal routes, you can expect a fair bit of climbing. You'll climb 7,200 feet (2,190 m) in total, with up to 1,970 feet (600 m) elevation gain in one stage. However, the climbs are manageable and amazing sea views are guaranteed.
If you are prepared to sweat it out on the climbs, this route is suitable for most levels of riders and inexperienced tourers. However, due to some stretches along busier roads, I wouldn’t recommend it for children who are not used to riding in traffic. If you are riding as a family, consider doing the section from Bangor to Chester as this mostly follows a bike path along the sea and the traffic-free Chester Greenway.
You will follow quiet lanes and traffic-free bike paths for the majority of the way, with a few short stints on busier roads. All of the sections are well-surfaced so any bike is suitable for your adventure.
The North Coast of Wales has drawn holidaymakers with its sprawling beaches and rocky shores for centuries. The tourist infrastructure is well-developed so you are never far from a bed, hot shower, and food stops. There are also plenty of campsites so it’s definitely worth considering packing your tent.
The start/finish point in Holyhead/Chester are easy to reach by train, both cities have good rail connections.
So, if pedalling along the seafront and multiple ice cream stops a day sound like your cup of tea – the North Wales Coastal Route is perfect for your next adventure.
Big sea views, the call of gulls, and salty air await on your first day of adventure. Today you trace the tip of Anglesey for 32.9 miles (53 km) from Holyhead to Amlwch. The sea accompanies you from the get-go as you leave Holyhead, riding over the spectacular causeway that separates the Cymyran Strait from the Irish Sea. Running parallel to the A55, this section is quite busy, but a cycle path keeps you away from the traffic. Before Valley village, take a left into the countryside. You’ll catch glimpses of the sea as you ride through hedge-lined fields. A brief stint on the A5025 takes you around Llanynghenedl and back onto a quiet lane. Surrounded by paddocks of grazing sheep, you’ll ride through glorious rural scenes on your way to Llynnon Mill. The road heads slightly uphill, but with an incline of no more than 4%, you probably won’t notice it much. From the mill, you will slowly curve around back towards the sea. Ahead, you can enjoy views over green headland, golden fields and dry-stone walls, backdropped by the shimmering sea – an impressive sight on the horizon as you ride.To your left, Church Bay will tempt you to take a rest. It’s a great place to unpack your picnic or tuck into lobster at a restaurant on the beach. Next, climb back up to the rolling coastal countryside and continue to fall deeply in love with Anglesey. A new, spectacular view awaits around every corner with plenty of opportunities to stop for a swim in the sea. Look out for colourful seabird colonies as you descend towards Cemlyn Bay and veer inland once more. In Llanfechell village, you’ll find a shop to stop for supplies (i.e. ice cream). The final stretch rises and falls through the countryside, passing verdant farmland and Burwen village before arriving in Amlwch. The most northerly town in Wales, Amlwch is a vibrant place to spend the night. You’ll find everything you need for a relaxing stay, as well as campsites nearby.
With 36.8 miles (59.3 km) to pedal and 1,970 feet (600 m) to climb, stage 2 is the toughest of this Collection. However, the wonderful views and unusual landscapes give you plenty of reasons to stop for a break. Today, you’re headed on a journey inland from Amlwch to Bangor. Your day starts with a short climb up to the surreal Parys Mountain, a former mine that has stained the rocky landscape in rich earthy hues. Continue on to Penysarn village where you find a small shop and brewery before riding deeper into inland Anglesey. The views are spectacular as always: you catch glimpses of moody hills and luscious fields, pass countless grey-stone farms, and stain your tongue purple munching on blackberries from the hedgerows.Take care when the lane ends and joins the B5111 into Llanerch-y-medd, a small village with a cafe. Climb up the high street and head back into the countryside for more wonderful landscapes with no cars in sight. On the outskirts of Bodffordd village, you join a cycle path along the edge of Llyn Cefni reservoir. Next, you wiggle along rural back roads before taking a small detour to visit Red Wharf Bay. You pass a few pubs as you return to the official route at Pentraeth and start to climb the busier B5109. Soon after Llandegfan village, you rejoin the sea and cross the spectacular Menai Bridge into Bangor. This historic city is the oldest city in Wales, dating back to the 6th century. Despite having the title of city, it feels more like a quiet seaside town and is one of the smallest cities in the UK. Bangor has plenty of accommodation to choose from, as well as shops and places to eat out.
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Vast caves dating back over 4,000 years, magnificent UNESCO World Heritage castles, and a tiny 19th-century house that is the smallest in the UK – stage 3 is a wild ride through Anglesey’s varied history.Starting in Bangor, you ride 24 miles (38.7 km) and climb 1,575 feet (480 m) along the coast, finishing in Llandudno. Your day begins with a climb out of Bangor, bringing you up a leafy lane into secluded countryside. At Llandygai, cross the A5 and skirt around Talybont before continuing on a slightly busier road. Next, ride over the A55 and climb up a beautiful hedge-lined lane through fields of grazing sheep backdropped by layered hills. You then drop down into Abergwyngregyn which has a cafe if you’re peckish. In the town, join a cycle path which runs along the A55 and ride into Llanfairfechan, a lovely little town on the sea known as the coastal gateway to Snowdonia.With the Coedydd Aber National Nature Reserve to your right and the sea to your left, the second half of the day is a wonderful ride tracing the coast. The traffic-free path takes you through Penmaenmawr, Dwygyfylchi, Conwy Marina Village, and Llandudno Junction, where you’ll find numerous opportunities for an ice cream on the beach. Your final stop is Llandudno, a thriving seaside resort with a huge range of accommodation, restaurants and attractions. Located on the tip of the Creuddyn Peninsula, the town is a great place to enjoy the sea breeze. I have included a trip to Great Orme Bronze Age Mines here, which has added a steep climb to the end of the ride. You may want to consider securing your bike in town and taking the funicular railway instead.
Following a cycle path along the seafront almost the entire day, your penultimate day in North Wales is an absolute treat. Today, you have plenty of time to enjoy the historical sites and natural wonders as you cycle 21.7 miles (35 km) from Llandudno to Prestatyn. You have an equal 590 feet (180 m) of ascent and descent. From Llandudno, simply join the cycle path on the seafront which you follow for the whole day. Your first stop is the beautiful Little Orme headland where you can enjoy stunning views over the crashing Irish Sea. Next, you ride into Colwyn Bay, a popular seaside resort made up of eight coastal communities. You are spoilt for choice for places to stop for snacks or lunch. Along the beach, there’s countless cafes and restaurants serving up everything from fish and chips to candy floss. The next section is a peaceful stretch towards Kinmel bay where you cross the impressive Pont y Ddraig bridge over Rhyl Harbour and into Rhyl, a seaside town on the mouth of the River Clwyd.Another few miles along the sea and you arrive at your final stop, Prestatyn. This coastal town has something for everyone – from amusement arcades to vintage tea rooms. You’ll also find plenty of accommodation and restaurants.
Your final day of adventure takes you 40.3 miles (65 km) along the coast and inland to the city of Chester. Following a cycle path for over half the way, you can enjoy the lovely seascapes in peace. From Prestatyn, follow the coast to the tip of Point of Ayr. Look out for the sea birds that flock to the sand dunes and salt marshes.The biggest climb of the entire North Wales Coastal Route takes you from the sea inland. You’ll climb through patchwork fields and sleepy villages for 9 miles (14.5 km). However, the incline is generally gradual, with a nice dip in the middle to give your legs a break. Remember as you climb that “what goes up, must come down”. True to the expression, a glorious downhill brings you into the small town of Bagillt on the Dee Estuary. The rest of the day is a flat jaunt along the estuary, riding though Flint and Connah’s Quay. There are plenty of opportunities to stop for a break in the towns en route. You can also take a detour to visit Burton Marsh and its diverse wildlife, which adds 6.2 miles (10 km) to your journey. On the outskirts of Shotton, you join the Chester Greenway, a wonderful paved bike path which runs through the countryside and into the Roman city of Chester. Your arrival in Chester marks the end of your time following the North Wales Cycle Route. The city has loads of historical sites, world-class restaurants and lively pubs to celebrate. You can hop on a train from Chester station to get home. There are direct trains to Manchester, Birmingham, and Crewe.