The Great Orme is a massive dolomite (a type of limestone) peninsula in north Wales, on the Irish Sea. On Saturday, while visiting my in-laws for a celebration of Thanksgiving, I cycled around the Orme. The Great Orme and the Little Orme bracket Llandudno, which crosses the spit of land between them—the Vikings, who gave these hills their English names thought the Ormes looked like a sea serpent (think of the 1930’s picture of Nessie). At a down point in the serpent’s back is Llandudno. It’s a pretty coastal town of the sort that grew up at the end of the 19th century, before Spain was invented. The north shore has a spectacular run of Victorian hotels in seaside pastels, capped by the Grand Hotel and a handsome pier; the west shore, on the opposite side of the peninsula, is quieter and less striking, but perhaps nicer for that.
I rode my fixie, which was my first adventure in bike building, but, with its limited gears (duh!), it wouldn’t be my choice for a hilly and windy ride, but it was available. With 161 meters climb on the route, the circuit is not too difficult, though the stretch going around the point of the peninsula is steep. Strava call sections as between 6 and 10% climbs.
It was a bright cold afternoon, but there wasn’t the wind from the sea that’s stopped me in the past. The road around the Orme is actually a toll road, costing a few quid for a car, but happily free for cyclists. It’s a one-way single lane road, and there’s little traffic, though it is narrow in parts. A few years ago, a stage of the Tour of Britain included a circuit of the Orme. They circled it against the flow (clockwise) but, of course, it was closed for traffic that day.
For such a small space, there quite a few routes crossing the Orme, and even three cafes. I took the simplest and longest, on the road around the outer edge of the peninsula. It’s a spectacular route, with the sea on your right, and the limestone wall—with the occasional wild Kashmiri goat—on your left.
I was glad to reach the “Rest and Be Thankful” coffee shop. Good carrot cake, though not a brilliant double espresso. From the cafe, it was all downhill, though, unless you’re a confident descender, wandering pedestrians crossing the road, the rock face on the left and a long way down to the sea on the other side keep you on the brakes.
Saturday, 26 November, from home to coffee and then home again, 5,56 miles; cycling, good; the double espresso, ok; carrot cake, good; Rest and Be Thankful Coffee Shop, a place to be thankful.