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Chester to Holyhead Cycle Route (NCR 5)

We are often asked for advice about cycling between Chester to Holyhead, towns which are linked by National Cycle Route 5.

The trouble with NCR 5 is that there is no off-road coastal path between Connah's Quay and Talacre or Prestatyn, though it is hoped that one day there will be.

So at the moment, for the stretch between Connah's Quay and Prestatyn, the official NCR 5 goes via lanes that are hilly and some cyclists may find this official route rather tiring on a long ride. One solution is to consider cycling by the A548, which is a busy main road but does have adjacent cycle paths along parts of it.

The Chester to Holyhead route is otherwise pretty straightforward.


From Chester to Connah's Quay there is a choice of two attractive cycle paths described on our webpage: http://www.cyclingnorthwales.co.uk/pages/chest_conna.htm

From Connah’s Quay to Prestatyn most cyclists seem to find it easier (that is with much less ascent) to stay on the A548 main road  passing through Flint, Bagillt and Mostyn . Though this is a busy main road, sections of it have an adjoining cycle path.

A more scenic but energetic alternative would be to go via Holywell, Whitford, Llanasa and Gronant.

From Prestatyn to Penmaenmawr and Llanfairfechan follow the NCN 5 coastal cycle path  described here (NB this route is mostly off-road, but there is also an official, signed, on-road short-cut between Rhos-on-Sea and Conwy avoiding the resort of Llandudno):


For a safe, attractive route from Penmaenmawr to Llanfairfechan round the Pen-y-Clip headland utilising new cycle bridges over the A55 expressway  see:


From Llanfairfechan to Bangor follow NCR 5 signs  via lanes through Abergwyngregin and Crymlyn.

From the Menai Suspension bridge at Bangor to Holyhead you have a choice of NCR 5 and NCR 8 through Anglesey. Both go mostly along unclassified roads and are very well sign-posted, though NCR 8 is quite a bit shorter in distance and is the one we recommend here.

(If you decide on NCR 8 one small recommendation we make for a short section after Llanfair PG is to avoid the slight diversion to Star which is approached by a very overgrown path. Instead, when you leave Llanfair PG stay on the A5 for nearly a mile and take the second turn Left to rejoin NCR 8.)

Approaching Holyhead both NCR 8 and NCR 5 cross to Holy Island via the Stanley Embankment, which has a cycle path along it.

Both routes then take a short cut on the inland side Penrhos Coastal Park. It is much more scenic and only slightly further to stay on the seaward path through the park, rejoining NCR 8 & 5 at its exit.


Chester to Connah's Quay: 8 miles

Connah's Quay to Prestatyn sea front via the A548: 19 miles

Prestatyn to Penmaenmawr: 34 miles

Penmaenmawr to Bangor: 15 miles

Bangor to Holyhead via NCR 8: 32 miles

Total c. 108 miles

Cyclist on last section of cyclepath before Connah's Quay

Near Connah's Quay


Ffrith beach, Prestatyn


Overlooking Colwyn Bay from cycleway above Old Colwyn

Near Colwyn Bay


The route goes along Conwy Quay


Approaching Penmaenmawr


Penrhos coastal park

Penrhos Coastal Park, near Holyhead

Photos  © Roy Spilsbury and Maurice Clarke - may be copied with hyperlink acknowledgement