This is pretty late, but it’s written and that is what I’m pleased about! On days 5 and 6 I explored my first coast this trip, and then made the transition from Wales to northern England. I’m finding lately that I’m a lot more relaxed about moving from place to place, and find the anxiety of new routines and new people is diminishing.
I also feel less daunted about being in the limbo state which travelling seems to be. Whereas when I initially set off I was painfully aware of that strange feeling and consciously thinking how to make peace with it. Lately it feels nice, the adventure is progressing and there’s momentum; I don't need to worry about much else.
What am I disliking about the trip so far? Besides drama with debit cards, the main thing for me has been spending. Whilst I am on holiday, I’m aware that it’s a fairly long duration holiday and as someone who usually spends very little. Spending so much on fuel and then on eating out is very unlike me. So I think I’m going to think a little about enjoying the experience without overindulging when possible. Basically weighing up the value of purchases more, and cooking at my host’s house whenever possible. It’s not a biggie, but its a habit I’ve built up over many years so I’m not surprised to experience this uncomfortable feeling. After all saving is one of the things I’ve always prided myself on.
Day 5 - To the Borth!...I mean beach
After climbing Snowdon the day before, I really wanted to do something that was more chilled out, and a different view. I love hiking but I can be quite particular about where and what (I generally think peaks can look pretty partway up than from the very top - views from the top can be dramatic yet boring). I spoke to my lovely host, Bex, about nearby beaches, and she mentioned a village called ‘Borth’. I headed to there as it meant a lovely ride through the south bits of Snowdonia park, and another chance to ride the A494 through Bala.
I started the morning off with scrambled eggs on toast which I absolutely love. The ride out to Borth was a lot of fun, and I was greeted to some really nice scenery and good weather (a theme for this whole trip pretty much).
When I got into Borth I followed directions to a dunes car park. I followed the road along until suddenly it deposited me onto the beach, at first it was interesting as the bike slid a little bit on the loose sand, but as soon as it was more impacted and damp; it was okay.
As it wasn’t free, I headed back up the road and parked there, before beginning the tedious process of taking off my gear and getting my backpack and hiking stuff ready. My plan was to go a little walk and find a nice to spot to chill, not a massive hike but I still need most of the same things. In hindsight, I probably ought to to have rode a little more of the beach and took a photo, as it was the first time the motorbike had been able to actually ride on a sand and it would’ve been pretty fun. But being alone made me cautious.
The hike along the dunes was a lot of fun, as I hadn’t seen a sea like this for a long while. I took my boots off and tied them to my backpack, and walked along in the edge of the water. After a while I rolled my trousers up and ventured in a little deeper into the water, exploring different possible photos and all the while fighting the sun’s glare on my phone screen. I got some nice shots, but plenty that weren’t. The walk into the town was really long, but I don’t think I really noticed as I was having a lot of fun.
When I reached the little town, I came up off the beach and walked along the water front. As common on sea fronts there where a lot of painted stoned houses in different colours, but none of them seemed to make a nice shot sadly.
Towards the end of the road, where the edge of the town climbed a hill, there was a little cafe called ‘Sands Bistro’. Signs outside boasted a large selection of ice creams, and I love ice cream. I had a caramel scoop, with a tropical scoop (looked like mango, and something pink) and it was amazing. I’ve spoken before about being tight, but ice cream is one area I’m happy to spend wildly on whilst travelling.
From then on I hiked up the hill and the coastline was getting more and more dramatic, with rough outcrops of rock and harsh rocky projections from the sea. Higher up the hill, which was now most definitely a cliff (and my first experience of a ‘cliff coast’), the area was bathed in spiky shrubs with small yellow flowers. The sea was a mix of blue and turquoise, I’d never really seen a sea that colour before. It was pretty dramatic. I crossed the peak of the cliff, and found a spot on the very edge where I spent some time taking photos, chilling, and some important reapplication of sun cream. The coast was beautiful, and the sea was awesome. I could’ve spent hours there in truth (but sadly being miles from my bike, and then 60 or so from my Airbnb I knew I couldn’t).
On the long way back to the beach I made a plan to revisit the bistro for more ice cream once I had my bike, and I did just that! The walk back felt longer than I remembered, so I was really grateful when I reached my bike. I rode back and reached the bistro just before close and was able to enjoy a waffle, with vanilla ice cream and syrup.
On the way back one highlight was encountering a convoy of 5 or so classic cars. I was steadily making my way overtaking them (and admiring them) but before I passed the last one they turned off somewhere. I did wonder where they were headed, but I had seen a lot of classic cars in the days prior. Maybe it is a ‘welsh’ thing.
I’m really glad I got to see such a lovely coast on such a great day. In the future I definitely want to go on a ‘proper’ coast walk along cliffs for a few miles. Caramel ice cream is great, but my favourite is still Mango (I love you mango).
Day 6 - A mixed day
This was the day that I was to leave wales. I knew my chain needed tightening/checking however, and I hadn’t the tools to sort it myself. Luckily there was a triumph dealer and service centre 28 miles away in Abergele.
I set off in good spirits, but shortly after I found my low fuel light on and was unsure of the nearest station. According to the manual two bars/fuel light means approx 50 miles left, and so whilst I have to trust that with a little pinch of salt, it still makes me nervous.
Before getting to Abergele I was down to 1 bar, which unless it was a trick of the hills causing the fuel to sit unevenly or the last bar accounting for more fuel than the one prior, 2 bars would not be equalling 50 miles of travel. With some coasting (which may have been totally unnecessary), I made it down to Abergele, and after startling a local, managed to locate a petrol station just ½ a mile away. I got myself a full tank and checked myself into the triumph garage.
The chain was fucked. The rear tire was down to the marks which recommended it be replaced and my rear break pad was almost gone. So its safe to say it was an expensive day. It was fine though; many of these things would’ve been addressed anyway when I book in my post-trip service. It was good as I was able to learn a few more things by talking to the mechanic who serviced the bike. It was fun browsing the new and old triumphs they had for sale (some really nice red ones and blue ones) and I also got to speak to a few bikers who came along throughout the day. Woods triumph garage was also apparently the highest rated motorcycle service centre/dealer in the country. And there was certainly no hard sell with me, which was nice.
One chap who was relatively local, had several bikes and went riding with his wife. He also mentioned something he learned when on a advanced riding course recently (which are also fairly cheap and easily accessible in wales compared to the midlands). He was saying when he had a fully laden bike (panniers, top box and passenger), he was able to hold the bike on the front break, with both feet keeping the bike stable. Whilst holding the break, he could twist the throttle, hit the bite point, release and pull away without shifting his weight. It seems interesting and it’s something I want to try. I can see it being difficult keeping a heavy bike upright with one foot hovering on the rear brake.
Once the bike was in good shape, I headed off to join the M6. With a new tire and a lot of other new parts, I was taking it steady, keeping the revs low and the riding very smooth. It wasn’t too awkward however, as the traffic was going pretty slow as well, and I can easily hit 60 in 6th gear at 4,000. I find the M6 motorway area pretty dull however, but maybe it’s because I rode that way in March.
Gradually, after 50 or so miles, I felt comfortable to pick up a bit more speed and sat at 70mph. My previous experience of the Preston area, is that everybody tends to drive at 85-90 and my conclusion is that it’s such a terrible area they cannot wait to get past to somewhere nice like Lancaster. But that Thursday the roads were pretty chill.
The wind was not chill however. Pretty much the entire way from Wales to Carlisle, the wind was harassing me (security!). It was blowing hard from the north east. Parts of the M6 are pretty exposed (especially past Kendall to Penrith) and at times I was leaning the bike firmly against the wind, and still only going straight. From behind it may have looked rather ordinary, but it certainly felt like an excessive amount of lean just to counter the wind. I did have a few images of the wind sweeping the bike from under me, but I think the wind was far from being that strong.
Eventually I pulled off at Penrith, and went to Carlisle via a quieter A road. It was a bit of tiring day as I had been concentrating for so long, inside the helmet it was loud so I didn’t bother trying to think anything through.
The house in Carlisle was pretty unassuming; outside it looks like a terraced house, and inside it is the cool mix of colours and palettes with the most interesting and unusual decor. I was in love with it pretty much right away, and my mind was racing and excitement building for when I get to work on my own room. I think the important thing to remember is that it will be a work in progress, and it is not a race to get it perfect. But I am excited to make a start.
The host's name was Ryan, and we had an great time chatting about life; figuring it out and finding direction. He was a lovely guy, thoughtful and intelligent. Later that night, another guest arrived, Andy, who had cycled 110 miles from Wakefield. He was an accountant, and had some of the mannerisms you might expect of one; he was a really cool and smart guy though with a neat sense of humour. We had a lot of fun discussing the effects of the wind on our respective two-wheeled machines. We were up past 1am chatting, so I think that says something about the company.
Whilst it’s a bit of a banal thing; I really do hope I have cause to pass through Carlisle again to see what has changed and have another chat.
Perhaps the best thing about the house was that it’s a house full of dogs. Two Labradors. Pat and Geordie and 1 mottled collie named Seth. They were all very sweet, respectable dogs. And I really got close to Seth in the short time I was with him. It was a reminder to appreciate my own dog Jack more, and also that having a dog that is truly my own one day will bring me a lot of joy.
Here's a few more photos from days 5 and 6.
Hope you're having a cool day