A5/Bangor - Holyhead
|Meets:||A5, A55, A4087, A487, A545, A55, A4080, A5152, A55, A5114, A4080, A55, A55, A5025, A5153, A55|
|Old route now:||A55, A5154|
|Route outline (key)|
Suddenly, the countryside opens out and we reach the junction with the A55. Travellers in less of a hurry than we are would now turn off to reach Holyhead as quickly as possible. We, however, descend into Bangor, first around a sweeping right-hand bend then down beside the stone wall of the crematorium (which blocks any view we might hope to catch of Penrhyn castle). By the harbour and pier (which stretches halfway to Anglesey!) we turn sharp left. The A5 avoids the city centre and cathedral (Bangor is the oldest diocese in the country) and follows a zig-zag path to the Menai Suspension Bridge. Proceeding in a straight line is not easy because of the different vertical levels of the city.
After crossing the bridge, we veer left to run alongside the strait, past a layby from where good views back to the bridge can be had. We approach the other bridge over the strait, the Britannia Bridge. This was built in 1850 by Robert Stevenson, and carried trains across in two iron tubes, rectangular in cross-section, supported by two limestone towers. However, in 1970 two boys accidentally set fire to the bridge, and almost destroyed it. The bridge was reconstructed so that the railway was supported by arches, and a road deck, carrying a diverted A5, was added over the top in 1980. However, since the recent completion of the A55 North Wales Expressway, the A5 has returned to its original routing through Bangor and over the Menai Bridge.
The A5 proceeds through the village of Llanfairpwllgwyngyll (as it is signed from the road), often abbreviated to Llanfair PG. However, the station and many local shops and garages display the famously lengthened version (Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch), which was dreamt up in the nineteenth century to encourage tourists to visit the island.
After the dramatic scenery of Snowdonia, the much flatter scenery of Anglesey might seem rather dull. But the island is known as Mam Cymru (the Mother of Wales) because of its fertile land. In fact, the rolling hills, lush green fields and the occasional rocky crag are rather redolent of Ireland. We run very close and parallel to the new A55 (which has taken most of the traffic away from the old road), crossing over the flood plain of the Afon Cefni. After passing through the village of Gwalchmai we cross the brow of a hill and get our first good view of Holyhead, with Holyhead Mountain skulking in the background. The A5 passes along the Stanley Embankment (forsaking the older bridge to the west) to Holy Island. The A5 finally ends at the ferry terminal, from where you can take a boat to Ireland proper!