Britain’s smallest church – St Trillo’s – while not unlike a Galician chapel on the road to Santiago, is found on the seafront at Llandrillo-yn-Rhos. Inside is a holy well, said to have refreshed Christians for some 1,500 years. An appropriate place, perhaps, to begin a route that offers plenty of exercise to a curious mind, even though the cycling is easy.
Nearby, at low tide, the relics of Rhos Fynach are just visible. This large P-shaped medieval fish trap (mentioned in Magna Carta) snared a shark in 1865 and 10 tons of mackerel in a single tide in 1907, before falling into disuse. Meanwhile, and very much in use, are the static caravans bearing witness to an industrial-age relationship forged when thousands of Welsh labourers sought work on the Liverpool docks. Merseysiders in turn found solace on the Welsh north coast, and still do.
Busy, too, are the offshore wind turbines at Rhyl Flats and Gwynt y Môr, powering thousands of Welsh homes. With the Liverpool ships long gone, it is the turbines now that catch the light, like mysterious rigging.
At Bae Colwyn (Colwyn Bay) you’ll find Victoria Pier under reconstruction. Built in an era of travelling Pierrots and bathing huts, the pier is now re-emerging Phoenix-like from a feisty history involving fire, corruption and neglect.
At Llysfaen, cranes and conveyor belts move road stone from the quarries. And finally, at Llanddulas, a vegetated bank of shingle (a SSSI on account of its plant communities) will take you all the way to Pensarn.
Cycling from Rhos-on-Sea to Pensarn
But maybe you’ll let your mind wander as you cruise along this wavy edged, clearly marked route, whooshing through puddles and weaving around ornate rusting lamp posts with the westerly wind at your back (take note if returning the same way).
There are ice-cream shacks. There are old-fashioned puddings at Fortes in Llandrillo-yn-Rhos. There are fairgrounds and rockpools and concrete sea defences that resemble Fivestones pieces tumbled by giants. There are turnstones, and fishermen strung hopefully along the seafront, along which a brown wave slaps and rolls, barely breaking, full of sparkles.