Winter’s arrived, no question. We’re waking to frozen windows, frigid air and fields coated with a frosted glaze. Convention wisdom would have us wearing baggy jerseys, legs covered in a woollen shawl and snuggled up in front of a roaring fire with a hot cocoa. But boy, would we miss out.
Today I rose and climbed into my winter cycling kit; thick tights, three base layers, thick gloves, jacket and cycling cap. I collected my bike and headed onto the Taff Trail. At Hailey Park (Llandaff, 4 miles from the hotel) I stopped and gazed at the sun. I placed my bike on the ground and photographed the frozen grass. I watched a fellow cyclist saunter past. She was wrapped up warm and moving fluidly, tracking the path of the river toward the Bay. The everyday pressures of the world seemed a galaxy away. A bicycle truly provides access to a mode of transport, an outdoor gym and a wonderful inner calm all at the same time.
The key to enjoying the winter weather is – if you excuse the pun – to warm to it. Dress appropriately (layers, layers, layers!), pick traffic free routes and throw in the occasional café stop as a treat. So on a wintery cycle trip to the Capital city of Cardiff, what can you expect?
Our first suggestion would be to head into the centre. The Hayes – Cardiff’s Victorian legacy – enjoys an excellent Bavarian Christmas market and you can expect unusual gifts, arts and crafts, decorations, mulled wine and more. As always, take a good lock and if shopping, a serious set of pannier bags. Once you’re shopped out, consider cycling back toward the hotel and over to the Bay. There is no doubt that you’re going to need your woollies here; the winter breeze coming off the Bristol Channel can cut to the quick. It’s worth it though. The Victorian pier of Penarth is only 4 miles away and easy access to Penarth is offered by the excellent Bay Trail, a 10km circuit around Tiger Bay. If you don’t fancy the extra uphill yards to Penarth – the last mile is pretty hilly! – complete the Bay circuit and finish with that warming Cocoa in the picture postcard setting of the Norwegian Church café and art centre. It’s perfect. There’s something about this Nordic landmark which feels so welcoming and warming on a chilly day in the Welsh Capital. But then I would say that. I was lucky enough to be married there one cold December day 11 years ago.
Images and words by Simon Nurse (https://cyclestuff.wordpress.com/)