There’s something magical about Anglesey that gives me tingles whenever I cross the bridge. The beautiful island on the northwest coast of Wales is one of my special places where I instantly feel happy.
We all have our special places; we have countries that hold our hearts, cities filled with special memories, towns we return to again and again. For me, that place in Anglesey.
I don’t have any historical or family attachment to Anglesey. I’ve visited the island less than 10 times and I know very few people who live there…but there’s just something about it.
I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Anglesey twice in two weeks. Last week was for my beekeeping experience and this week I was embarking on a historical cycling adventure with Green Lane Bike Tours.
This was another AirBnB Experience and part of a collaboration I’m working on with Curious Cymru to highlight all the incredible activities and experiences available in North Wales. If you’re ever looking for things to do in the area then I highly recommend checking out Airbnb Experiences as there are so many unusual things on there and they’re mostly run by local people who want to share their passion for the area.
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I love cycling and will always opt for a cycling tour when I’m travelling. It’s a great way to see a lot in a short space of time but without being herded on and off a coach like a herd of cattle. And let’s not forget that the feeling of freewheeling down a steep hill (usually after a tough climb up!) with the wind in your hair and the sun on your face. It’s the best feeling ever. And it’s made even better on Anglesey because the views in front of you will make your heart sing!
^Anglesey – Views just after you cross Britannia Bridge
Crossing Britannia Bridge on a sunny Sunday morning filled me with so much happiness, I honestly felt like I’d arrived on holiday.
I met Eli, my historical cycling guide from Green Lane Bike Tours, in Beaumaris. I was glad I arrived early so I had some time to explore this charming seaside town. Beaumaris is so pretty and there was a Sunday morning farmer’s market behind the castle that was filled with goodies!
^Beaumaris is just the prettiest place!
I found Eli and two other ladies who were joining us for the tour. They were kitted out in cycling gear and professional looking bikes and suddenly my heavy, old fashioned bike with a pretty basket on the front seemed a little inappropriate!
Due to COVID restrictions, Eli is currently unable to hire bikes, which is what she’d usually do for someone without a suitable bike (electric bikes are also available to hire!)
We started with a safety check to make sure everything was in working order before setting off for the country lanes.
There were some steep hills during our ride but we stopped frequently for Eli to point out sights of interest and tell us about the historical significance of certain areas. Eli is so knowledgeable and seems to know everything about Anglesey! A lot of Anglesey’s history in this area revolves around the Bulkeley family and the Hampton family and it was so interesting to see how the family histories dominated the landscape.
As much as I loved cycling and learning more about the history of the island, I also loved speaking to Eli and the other two ladies on the tour. Eli began her bike tours after a particularly gorgeous ride one day where she thought to herself, ‘I wish I could find a way to make a living out of this so I could just go for beautiful bike rides each day!’ And she did.
I find that so inspiring and if that’s not pre-retirement goals I don’t know what is!
Eli didn’t learn to ride a bike until she was 40 and since then has ridden virtually every road and lane on Anglesey. She knows the island well and – perhaps due to being a late starter when it comes to cycling – she’s incredibly safety conscious and does thorough checks and follows all safety measures thoroughly.
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One of my favourite parts of the tour was when we stopped for lunch. We cycled to Penmon Lighthouse, a lighthouse I’d actually tried to find on my own before but I’d failed to find it and ended up getting hopelessly lost! But now I’m almost glad I didn’t find it alone because the joy of peddling to the top of a hill and seeing the lighthouse emerge in the distance was incredible. And then freewheeling down the hill towards the white pebble beach and sparkling sea was all I needed to make my day.
We stopped at The Pilot House, a cafe near the sea, and sipped strong coffees in the sunshine while Eli and the other ladies told me more about their lives in the area. I devoured a pizza while enjoying views out to Puffin Island and couldn’t help but think Eli had a great idea to make this her job!
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Another highlight of the cycling tour actually wasn’t cycling at all, but a section of the tour where we pushed our bikes along a magical forest track to find a hidden castle within the trees. This was definitely one of those things you’d need a local guide to help you find and Eli’s extensive knowledge about the history really brought the area to life.
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We chatted about what life would have been like here centuries ago. Eli told us how the area changed significantly during The Black Death due to so many people dying. The scarcity of labourers gave the few remaining labourers more power and more options and therefore changed the equilibrium of the land. Life changed dramatically during this time and we couldn’t help but ponder the possibility of our current pandemic changing the world as we know it today.
I thought I was signing up to a historical cycling tour but I actually got so much more out of my ride; a renewed love for cycling, an interest in the history of Anglesey, a deeper appreciation for the beauty of this island and an excited plan to bring my family back here as soon as I can to show them everything I saw!
We finished the tour after over four hours cycling the island. I had that content tiredness you get after a full day out and I already can’t wait to get back to Anglesey.
Massive thanks to Eli at Green Lane Bike Tours.
This was part of a collaboration with Curious Cymru and Airbnb Experiences.
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