Freesteel Blog » Avoiding Nadilog by Cycling in Wales

Avoiding Nadilog by Cycling in Wales

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014 at 2:27 pm Written by:

This trip round the Lleyn followed on from last year’s Avoiding Nadilog by Walking in Wales. In retrospect nothing much happened. But it was exciting at the time due to the lack of planning and the risk of things going wrong.

Our white Xmas on Whistling Sands

Departure was delayed till the morning of the 24th because someone couldn’t possibly miss their 14th digging trip of the year in ODB. Anyway it was raining and we weren’t packed yet.

We caught the 8am train to Bangor, squabbled in Chester, and bought a paper that had an investigative article about the African migrants in Calais camping in squalor and risking their lives to jump on trucks to England where the weather is crap, there are no jobs, and the citizens vote for politicians who promise to make their lives hell. No matter what happened, we had it easy.

Zooming past Trefor at the start of the Lleyn where we avoided the short-cut through the quarry that looked better on the map than in reality.

We peddled out of Bangor at 10:30am on wide empty roads and got overtaken by a lycra-clad cyclist on an open stretch whose bright flashing back light could still be seen from a mile away. Becka decided that she needed one of those or she’d die on the road in spite of the fact that she was wearing a flourescent yellow cycling jacket instead of her drab grey-green cloak of invisibility that she normally rides about town in.

Without so much as a ten minute cooling off period, she went and bought the most expensive back light in the small cycle shop in Caernarfon. This item has no means of attachment to the bike frame behind loaded paniers, was less bright than the light already mounted there, and cost extra by being chargable through a micro-usb socket (already broken) which takes 5000 times longer than it takes to change the batteries. Due to all the grumping over this we forgot to get the her squeaky chain oiled.

We’ve both been pitching dome tents for some 30 years and only now learnt that you cannot tie them down on a concrete platform in the wind even though they appears to be able to stand on their own! Doesn’t work on sand either.

It was well after sunset when we got to Porth Oer/Whistling Sands, having blasted past all the wild camping spots I’d checked out using online maps. We’d been riding against the wind all the way, so it stood to reason that when we reached the end of the land it would be blowing straight on to shore with no hope of shelter. The tent inflated like a paraglider as soon as the door was unzipped.


After a heated argument about tent engineering (in the bitter cold), I gripped the top pole through the flysheet and carried it like a broken umbrella back to the top of the road and parked it across a public footpath sheltered between two hedgerows. We pitched camp and discovered that the large tin of herring had punctured and leaked in the bottom of my bike panier.


We strolled the several miles into Aberdaeron, washed our stuff at an outside tap, had a drink in a noisy pub where the fantastic view was completely ruined by it being too dark to see anything, and stomped home. I managed to pee on the edge of my shirt overnight which made it immensely smelly and I had to wear my thermal top bare for the rest of the trip.

Xmas lunch on a sand spit in Pwllheli beyond all the static caravans.

We zoomed along the south coast of Lleyn on the 25th to take advantage of the weather. Everything was closed in Pwllheli except the Weatherspoons which was serving a reasonable Xmas lunch to people who had sense not to slave away in the kitchen all day. We warmed ourselves with two coffees and moved on.

On the pier in Criccieth where we once had a lovely shore dive to the patches of seagrass infested with pipefish.

Tremadog was a non-event. The wild camping opportunities that we’d seen on the map (woods) turned out to be rocky cliffs, so we crossed the estuary to Garreg, headed up a single-track road and picked a field.


Concerned about its visibility, Becka put some tree branches against the tent seemingly unaware that a yellow tent like this one lights up like a lampshade with a 100W bulb in the night. We walked 2 miles to Penrhyndeudraeth, was put off by the pub, then 3 miles back to Garreg where the pub was shut. And that was our Xmas night.

Don’t worry, things will be better in Blaenau Ffestiniog.

We arrived at 9am on the 26th in a rain shower and travelled up and down the main street looking for accommodation. I meant it when I said we hadn’t planned; my back-up plan was to pitch our tent out of the weather in some mine workings and sleep for the day.

At around 11am the station hotel opened and Becka booked a room while I got pestered by a lady outside who wanted me to to buy her a bottle of whiskey, which she couldn’t do herself because she’d fallen out with the manager.

Blizzard conditions on the slate walk up from Blaenau Ffestiniog

We spent most of the day indoors watching TV, except for a walk up the hill. Xmas TV is amazingly bad these days, with repeats from Xmas specials from 1973. I remember when Xmas TV was a really big deal years ago. The Co-op supermarket across the street was open and selling off its excess produce. We had trangia-fried scallops with our tea. Eventually we found a movie to watch in the evening from our bed. Luxury.

The highlight of the trip was Bounce Below where I’d booked us in for the 10am slot on the 27th. Lucky I did as it was full! (What the heck?) Francis had told me about it just the other week. Anything as bonkers as stringing trampolines into a Welsh slate mine has got to be seen.

It’s dark in there. There are rope slides between the levels

From Blaenai to Bill’s house near Llanberis google maps recommends taking a shortcut from Dolwyddelan to just east of Capel Curig.

This shortcut was crap.


We hit blizzards on Pen-y-Pass and got down to Bill’s house by 4pm for lots of tea and food.

There was a bit of car touristing on the 28th, with an aborted visit to Pen-y-Pass where the carpark was full on account of the sun. We had lunch in the shed, and drove round past the really big zipwire which was doing a roaring trade on that day. All sorts of grannies and unlikely people were dressed up for their ride wearing what looks exactly like hang-glider stirrup harnesses.

You can hear the skree of the pulleys long before the bodies fly past

And then we caught the 4 o’clock train home from Bangor in time to pack and leave for Bull Pot Farm in the morning for Becka to go caving six days after her previous satisfying underground trip.

I’m back at work on the slicer code.

Have I saved up any brownie points for when it’s hang-gliding season?

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