A beautifully sunny but very windy Autumn day was in prospect as six of us left Hawarden bound for Holywell. Tom, Ivan, Ray, Steve T, and Dave P were on a magical mystery tour today as the route I had planned wasn't the most obvious. Now read on.
We start conventionally by clambering up to Buckley and then out via New Brighton (why?) to Sychdyn. We drop down fast onto the A541 Mold to Denbigh road riding its rough surface to Rhydymwyn. Branching left, we stop briefly at the Mendelsohn memorial plaque, before continuing along the very narrow and hilly lane around Nant Alyn and its quarry. Turning North, we hit the A541 again and charge up to Nannerch. The first left finds us wheezing our way up to the car park at Penycloddiau Iron Age Hill fort at 950ft. One mountain north of Moel Arthur, this magnificient monument has spectacular 360 degree views of the Welsh countryside. It is a popular walking site, which I have used several times – highly recommended!
The road down has been re-tarmacced and it is a fast descent down to the Kinmel Arms pub at Waun. Ivan's convinced we are going to the Wetherspoons in Mold, so I obligingly head north to Bodfari where we hit the A541 again and motor back towards Mold. At Afon Wen however, we turn left to Caerwys and Ray ominously says “It's a long hill” and he is right! We rest outside the cafe in the centre of the village – popular with cyclists as it turns out.
Taking a tiny right lane out of the town, we bowl along tiny “un-ridden” lanes via Pant to Pantasaph. I can't resist a mini-diversion around the back of the Friary up over one more hill before lunch. It's now a short downhill run through Carmel and into the “Market Cross” Spoons pub for lunch. After 31 miles and nearly 1000m of climb we are ready for it. As ever, Wetherspoons is busy but delivers fast and effectively as I down my pint of 6% Quagmire ale - one will do today.
I promise the lads that it was all downhill now – well it is for the most part, except for the slow climb out of Holywell running parallel to the A55 before sliding down the lanes into Flint and out towards Oakenholt. Here, Steve T unfortunately has to ride (uphill) alone along Papermill Lane towards Northop Hall and Hawarden. He has ridden 45 very hilly miles but has seen some new lanes today and some memorable countryside. The rest of us run back down the Greenway and home for an early shower.