Spring has arrived at last and after the thorough soaking of the previous Thursday I was eager to get on the bike in some dry, warm weather giving my knees their first airing of the year. I was one of twelve who gathered at the Gallery cafe. Dave and Liz P, just back from foreign parts, decided to do their own thing, which left ten of us split neatly into two rides. The "brisk" boys were soon away leaving a "moderate" four, plus yours truly, to head west at a more measured pace. Steve T, Dave H, Jim, Mike G and your reporter were heading for the Blue Lion at Cwm. Like many country pubs this one has been open and closed at various times in recent years. However, while walking in the area recently I had called in and was assured it would be open on a Thursday.
Photographs by Michael Gilbert
Passing through Elwoe we trundled steadily along familiar lanes, through Northop Hall, Northop and after the pulse raising 100 yards along the A55 started our first climb of the day on the B5123 to Pentre Halkyn. Taking the second left in the village to avoid the heavy stuff going to the quarry we resumed our climbing up on to Holywell Common. Always good views here they were especially good today, in the fine clear weather, we could see well up the Lancashire coast. Cycling through Holywell Golf Club, common land where golfers, cars, cyclists, dog walkers and the ever present sheep appeared to be living in harmony on this splendid day, we began the long descent into Pantasaph, Gorsedd and then Whitford. Here we picked up National Cycle Route 5 but not for long. After a demanding little climb, on a lane festooned with mud left by farm vehicles, we turned away from NCR 5 and crossing the A5026 we skirted Llyn Helyg, hidden in the trees, and were soon descending into Cwm.
We arrived just as the pub was opening, which is 1pm on a Thursday. We were in no hurry. We lounged on the decking at the rear of the pub and were treated to a lovely view across the Vale of Clwyd, along the coast and with the snow tipped peaks of Snowdonia in the distance. We all chose a simple sandwich for lunch: a wise choice. Mine host and hostess friendly but rather it would appear overwhelmed by a dozen customers turning up together. We waited half an hour for our sandwiches; those who had gone for the hot meal option were still staring dolefully at empty tablemats when we left.
Leaving Cwm we turned right onto Cwm Road heading towards Rhuallt. This we agreed was a ride worth taking as we bowled along the side of the hill with, to our right, splendid views of the Vale resplendent in the spring sunshine. You can't have too much of a good thing and reaching Rhuallt we decided to continue to enjoy the views by going along the B5429, through Tremeirchion to eventually reach Bodfari.
Here the other honorary Welshman, Mike left us to venture further west to his home and we four turned east along the A543. Although an A road experience tells me it is usually quiet in the middle part of the day and so it proved. We covered the 12 miles to Mold at a tidy pace, as this is the only low level crossing of the Clwydian Hills in this area. After a welcome refreshment break at the Theatre Clwyd cafe I left the remaining three, at Northop, to make their way back to our starting point.
An enjoyable day. The pace was steady, the conversation lively and wide ranging taking in such topics as European Patent and Trade Mark law and the demise of rural bus services. The Welsh countryside did not disappoint. 50 miles covered and a few hills climbed.