Author Topic: Four do the Lôn Las Cymru  (Read 1150 times)

Wowbagger

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Four do the Lôn Las Cymru
« on: June 04, 2019, 06:51:16 pm »
It should have been five, but Mick, the twin cast from the same mould as Marvin the Robot, was unable to join us on this occasion as his wife is ill. Given that I am the youngest of the party by some 8 years, we are now climbing the hills slowly, but we hope just fast enough that the Grim Reaper can’t quite catch us.

The other three came down from the Wirral, whereas I had to negotiate Lpoo St to Paddington, my normal route impossible as a result of Trump. As it happened, I was agreeably surprised at how easy Oxford Street was. I think there were diversions in place in preparation for road works and for quite some time I was riding along tracts of otherwise empty road.

I arrived in Newport to time, to find Jeff fighting with Annie’s chain. Her ancient step-through Raleigh with its 1980s style suicide levers seems to have a mind of its own. The chain leaps off randomly and Annie seemed to be having a problem with her freewheel.

We set off in steady rain towards the transporter bridge and immediately had a disagreement about the route. To be continued after a bath..
Oh, Bach without any doubt. Bach every time for me.

Wowbagger

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Re: Four do the Lôn Las Cymru
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2019, 08:29:05 am »
Wow! I had a bath! And, like Archimedes, I made a wonderful discovery! Losing three stones in weight has made a massive difference to the bathing experience! Firstly, my arse is no longer so massive that it no longer makes a perfect seal against the sides of the bath, so sliding it along the bath no longer forces all the water up one end of the bath (with hilarious consequences) and secondly, lifting myself out of the bath is a great deal easier now I don’t weigh so much.

But to return to the journey. We were standing at a road junction in the pissing rain discussing which of the two available options we should take. Given that the Sustrans map that Ian produced to support his argument was rapidly disintegrating before our very eyes made it hard to convince me that we should retrace our steps, especially as I knew my route took us directly to the transporter bridge, which both Jeff and I were keen to use. After a bit more faffage we arrived there to be met by a "BRIDGE CLOSED” sign. The guy in the visitors’ centre launched straight into his rehearsed blurb even though we clearly wanted to get on with it. It seemed that the electric motors are being overhauled for the first time in 112 years. We managed to escape before he started showing us a video and we carried on upstream to the next bridge. This meant cycling along the segregated route, over the bridge and past the Gwent Waste Disposal Centre, with its chemically, sewagey, slaughter-house smells.

Once we were away from the docks the ride became much more pleasant as we traversed a fenland area, like a little bit of Lincolnshire that got lost. There were narrow, weedy waterways with herons and ducklings and it was all very easy cycling. And the rain had stopped.*

The rest of the ride was fairly uneventful, save a trip to Waitrose in Caldecott for a very belated lunch. From there to Chepstow was a bit of a climb, followed by a massive descent. We know we have a climb ahead tomorrow morning.

*I subsequently learned that a bypass was to have been built across this area, but that it was vetoed by the leader of the Welsh Assembly. Good job too!





Oh, Bach without any doubt. Bach every time for me.

Wowbagger

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Re: Four do the Lôn Las Cymru
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2019, 06:33:54 am »
Before breakfast I had a look at Annie’s bike. I turned it upside down and turned the wheels. The freewheel seemed to be doing its job perfectly. Besides, my limited knowledge of bike mechanics makes me think that a faulty freewheel wouldn’t make pedalling difficult. As long as the components are happily engaging and making the wheel turn then no part of it is moving. It is when you stop pedalling that it disengages and starts functioning with moving parts.

I tried pushing the wheel backwards and I thought I detected a notchy feeling as though it might be coming from the bottom bracket bearings. If that were so then it could indeed make pedalling intermittently difficult but of course it is hard to replicate the stresses of riding up steep hills when the bike is upside down.  I reported my thoughts to Annie and she decided that she and Jeff would take the train to Abergavenny and visit the bike shop. Ian and I would ride along the planned route and meet them there.

It was an uneventful journey. We did a lot of climbing and our average speed stayed at a sluggish 6 mph for the first 12 miles or so. We climbed to about 750’ and for the most part the sun shone. The weather was definitely pleasant and the headwind wasn’t too much of a nuisance. We found a pub and there was an ancient photo of the Pontypool Front Row above the bar. Lunch was had and an annoying senior moment prevented the name of third member of that formidable trio springing to mind. Graham Price, Charlie Faulkner and ...? That irritated me and even after two pints of rather good ale and a plate of ham and cheese sandwiches, it still wouldn’t come.

After lunch our progress became more rapid as we cycled along the Usk Valley. We had steered away from NCN 42, which seemed to mean that life should include gratuitous hills. But of course we had a little more traffic to deal with as a result.

Just before we arrived in Abergavenny I exclaimed “Bobby Windsor!”  “Bobby Windsor?” Ian enquired. “The third member of the Pontypool Front Row,” I explained, feeling slightly smug.

An exchange of messages with Jeff indicated that he and Annie had already left Abergavenny and were at the B & B in Llanfihangel Crucorney. “How’s the bike?” I enquired and Jeff responded ominously “Annie will explain when you get here.”

Ian and I then started our ascent of the monster climb - about as long as The Mighty North Hill, but twice as steep. It is also rather less picturesque for the first mile or so as it ascends through modern housing punctuated by schools. Eventually we climbed above the house line and were rewarded with a fine view of Skirrid to our right, and the Black Mountains ahead.

It wasn’t a lot longer before we arrived at the B & B to see that Jeff’s Marin had already made friends with a bright blue Giant Liv with disc brakes and straight bars. Annie posted on basefook that she had said a tearful farewell to a Grand Old Lady of the 1980s. I responded that I was glad to see the back of it. I never did like bikes with suicide levers.

Anne, our hostess, had supplied a very good cake, which we proceeded to demolish, and after ablutions we dined at The Crown in Pantygelli.











Oh, Bach without any doubt. Bach every time for me.

Wowbagger

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Re: Four do the Lôn Las Cymru
« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2019, 10:13:38 pm »
We had a very fine breakfast at Penclawdd Farm. I heartily recommend the place.

Bugger. I’m too tired to write this tonight. Will try tomorrow.

To resume at the resumption...

We left Penclawdd Farm and headed for the hills. One hill in particular - the Gospel Pass. It's the highest road in Wales and I have ridden it a couple of times in the past, the last time in 2013 with full camping gear. I recall having a bit of an online dispute with some guy who regularly edits Wikipedia and who kept on "correcting" my edit that the Gospel Pass is the highest road in Wales and reinstating the fiction that Bwlch y Groes is. Given that the Gospel Pass is over 1800' above sea level and Bwlch y Groes isn't, I was surprised that there could be any dispute, but these days I'm glad to say that the record is correct.

Anyway, the Gospel Pass is a long old climb. I know that on the two occasions I had ridden it previously I had had to walk for some of it, but I was hoping not to have to do so today. The sun was shining, the weather was quite cool, and we set off northwards in a pretty cheerful frame of mind. Annie's new bike looked to be a real beauty, and I thought she looked a lot more comfortable on a bike with flat bars than she did on that old dropped-bar Raleigh.

We hadn't been going very long when someone (well, me...) suggested stopping for coffee at the Llanthony Priory. This we did, and we admired the ancient ruins. I just love the pub in the vaults, with its gothic arches. I don't think it makes any particular claims about being the oldest pub in the world or anything like that, but one that is set in the basement of a 12th century building it quite old.

We continued on our way, and as is traditional on our rides the septuagenarians leave the striplings of sexuagenarians in their wake. Thus I rode a great deal of the Lon Las Cymru on my own. On this occasion I spent a fair bit of time having a conversation with a cuckoo, and it came to find me, as they do if you cuckoo back at them sufficiently convincingly. I have a recording of it (and me) which I will endeavour to include here if my technological uselessness doesn't get the better of me.

Once the cuckooing had stopped I carried on plodding onwards and quite decidedly upwards. As I did so, it seemed to me that this hill had become steeper. With a great deal of effort, I made it as far as the cattle grid around the 1600' mark, but I didn't trust myself to ride over it without some sort of mishap, so I got of, gingerly wheeled the bike over, had a breather, took a few photos, and then carried on. I found that the last 200' or so were definitely less challenging than the ground I had already covered, and when I got to the top the other three were waiting. We took a few photos, and I sent a knob pic to my friend Penny (Lord Hereford's Knob of course) and then we started the 1600' descent into Hay on Wye. Just as I was gathering speed I noticed to my left, some way off the road, a horizontal motor bike and just beyond it an equally horizontal, and worryingly motionless, motorcyclist. A few motorcycles, with continental number plates, had overtaken me some time earlier. They all seemed to be behaving in a perfectly circumspect fashion so it came firstly as a surprise that he (I assume it was a he) was so far off the road, and a considerable shock to see someone lying there. He was being attended to by a man whose Black Mountain Rangers vehicle was parked nearby, but witnessing such a scene certainly made me a lot more cautious on my descent than I might have been. We found one of many cafés open in Hay, which we made whilst the sun shone, and while we were eating there was a very brief shower.

After lunch we headed SW along a B road before crossing the Wye at Glasbury, where a large number of schoolchildren were messing about in boats. From that point onwards we simply followed the river to Builth Wells. I had recalled that there was an excellent tea room at Erwood, where once there had been a station, and we arrived soon after 4pm. This was fortuitous because the tea room stopped serving at 4.30. Actually, to be fair, they seemed to have stopped serving some years ago as it was entirely self-service and you then told a woman who was actually personning an art galley and general craft shop what you had eaten and drunk, and you paid her.

There were a couple of sharp climbs before Builth, made all the nastier by the fact that the road had recently been top-dressed, was awash with loose chippings, and we were being overtaken by a succession of motorists who all blithely ignored the 10mph speed limit sign. However, we arrived at The Owls B & B unscathed and our host & hostess thoroughly recommended eating at the Cosy Corner, only a short walk away, and we weren't disappointed. It was a splendid eatery.

We had a wander round after food and found four very spectacular giant redwoods in Groe Park. There were photographs.

















Oh, Bach without any doubt. Bach every time for me.

Re: Four do the Lôn Las Cymru
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2019, 12:03:14 pm »
Looking forward to the rest of the report! I'm riding this in August (on the way to Worldcon) so any top tips are very welcome (though accommodation is already booked, 'cause I get paranoid about that).

Wowbagger

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Re: Four do the Lôn Las Cymru
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2019, 08:23:52 am »
The forecast for today was quite awful. Rain, rain and more rain, so it was something of a bonus to find that we were able to wind our way out of Builth Wells under a leaden, but hitherto continent, sky. I had forgotten the steep climbs we had to endure, and had a sudden flashback that I had fixed a puncture not far from here. I had also forgotten the existence of Newbridge-on-Wye, but not that of the stretch of Sustrans-standard COR on the approach to Llanwrdl. As it happened, it wasn’t as dreadful as I thought, and, although the rain was now falling sufficiently steadily for me to reach for longs, rain legs and warm gloves, it didn’t stop me from indulging a second bout of cuckoo-baiting in as many days. I got fed up before the cuckoo did and I had just turned away to carry on cycling when it flew out of its bush up the hill straight into the tree above me. Jeff saw it but I didn’t.

We had discussed the merits of taking the main road rather than the sustrans route, and I recall that on my previous trip that, once I reached Llanwrdl, I decided that the evening traffic wasn’t too bad and took the main road. This time the consensus was that we should stick to the Sustrans route, and what a mistake that turned out to be. I reckon it added a good half-hour in the pouring rain, and by the time we arrived for lunch in Rhayader we were all very wet indeed. I can certainly recommend the Old Swan Café's steak, mushroom and onion baguette washed down with plenty of tea.

We had taken off some of our wet garments as we ate, but it was now time to don them again and trudge forth. The moment we went outside I started to feel cold and we still had another 15 miles to do. Ian and I set off with Jeff and Annie a minute or two behind. We continued to follow NCN route, with the Wye to our right, and the noise of the lorries on the busy A road on the other side of the river reassuringly distant. The others went ahead and I found myself on my own for most of the next 10 miles to Llangurig. I realised that although I was wet, as long as I kept moving I wasn’t cold, so I just pottered along at my own pace. I was thinking about how the bike was standing up to the struggle, and it occurred to me that there was the occasional moment of friction between the mudguard and the debris being picked up by the back wheel. Suddenly the thought came into my head “I wonder if a mudguard bolt has come loose?” so at the next farm gate I was off the bike, I had leaned it against the gate and gave the mudguard a wiggle. Sure enough, there was a little play there so I found the Allen keys and tightened the bolts. It was only about 1 turn, but it was enough. I also noticed something dark brown on my left crank, and it appeared to be coming from the bottom bracket. I don’t have the tools with me to look at that, and everything seems to be turning smoothly, so that will have to wait until I get home. It’s probably grease from where I inserted the eccentric bottom bracket, or the silly external bearings that Shimano insisted on fitting to their Hollowtech 2 cranksets.

I was making steady progress towards Llangurig when my phone rang. It was Jeff telling me that they had stopped at the Blue Bell pub and they weren't sure of the route of the next bit. I wasn't far behind them, so I dropped into the pub to tell them that the road they wanted was immediately alongside the pub and it went up steeply. I also astonished the assembled company by declining food and drink. We were only about 5 miles from our B & B for the night, in Llanidloes, and I didn't want to risk getting cold by stopping. Furthermore, those 5 miles were very important ones as we crossed the watershed between the Wye and the Severn. I also felt that once we were in Llanidloes, we had reached the half-way mark for the trip. We were certainly on the northern Sustrans map covering the Lon Las Cymru.

I walked up the hill again and descended very circumspectly. My brakes were, at times, causing almost no deceleration and on one occasion I felt a surge of adrenaline as I couldn't see round the next bend and I was still gathering speed, or so it seemed. Luckily the road levelled off and I didn't have to crash into something solid, but it is a real issue with rim brakes on wet days whilst riding steep hills.

We had booked rooms at The Unicorn hotel, and the landlady made all the right sympathetic noises when a quartet of drowned rats appeared at her door. More important than her sympathy, I'm glad to say that the central heating was on. I set to work spreading out my wet stuff, and the foresight of borrowing Jan's Ortliebs really paid off. I had double-bagged my clothes as well, using Karrimor waterproof stuffsacks, so pretty well everything was dry. I even had a spare pair of shoes to wear.

The shower was beautifully hot and I soon felt human again. Annie decided that she wasn't going to come with us when we went to the Indian restaurant a couple of doors down from the Unicorn and this turned out to be a wise decision. We waited ages to be served and the food wasn't great when it arrived. Indeed, Ian was getting very grumpy about it and was on the point of walking out, but he didn't, so at least we didn't go to bed hungry.

When I returned to my room, I turned and cycled my damp washing, and felt pretty confident that the lovely hot radiators would do their job, and when I awoke the next morning everything was dry.

Oh, Bach without any doubt. Bach every time for me.

Re: Four do the Lôn Las Cymru
« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2019, 07:43:09 am »
Brilliant reading - more more more  :thumbsup: ;D

I had originally planned to ride the Lon Las Cymru this June, but family problems and a funeral to attend changed things somewhat  :'(

Wowbagger

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Re: Four do the Lôn Las Cymru
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2019, 07:33:27 pm »
8th June - Llanidloes to Machynlleth

We had a pretty short day today. Jeff wisely made sure that we were not bashing out the miles, and given that the ride was about 270 miles all told, and that we had allocated 9 days' riding to its completion, 30 miles a day for a group of 4 people averaging 72 years of age was doable.

This may have been a short day, but it was a challenging one. Firstly, the forecast wasn't great, but the rain was due to stop some time in the late morning. We checked out at about 10am, parked the bikes under the large shelter in the centre of Llanidloes, had a natter to a few other hardy cyclists, and then made straight for a coffee shop so that we could minimise the amount of time we spent in the rain. Inevitably, at some point we had to set off and our first task was the Hafren Forest.

"Hafren" is the Welsh word for the Severn, and we were quite close to its source in the Pumlumon range. Jan and I had a number of walking holidays in this area a few years ago and we knew from experience that firstly Pumlumon (Plynlimmon to you English types) was 2468' high, and secondly that the Severn, the Wye and the Rheidol all rise within about a mile of each other on its slopes (http://www.streetmap.co.uk/map.srf?X=279420&Y=287950&A=Y&Z=120 refers). It was therefore not at all surprising that we had a Monster Climb again today. Initially we rode through the drizzle with a very youthful Severn on our left, tinkling through its valley with waterfalls and pools and far too many conifers. Gradually the weather improved, and I think today we met more cyclists than on any other day. I nattered to a few of them.

Again, I was mostly progressing on my own and when we left the Hafren forest I decided to take a short detour into Staylittle to see if the shop was open, as I could do with some lunch, and secondly to see if I could use the bog. I definitely wanted to unload prior to my climb up to the top. I bought a chicken pie, a slab of "Happy Shopper" flapjack and a cup of coffee and had a good natter to the shopkeeper, but he apologetically told me I couldn't use his bog as it was out of action. I refrained from telling him that he was a busted flush, even though he told me that that was why he had the plumber calling. He did, however, recommend the pub in Dylife, a couple of miles along the road, and whose existence I had forgotten. I ate the pie, saved the flapjack for later and then headed towards the pub. When I got there I couldn't be bothered to lock the bike up as it's such a remote area, and I walked into the bar. My 3 companions were there tucking into their lunch, so I had to order some food as well! I ate a wrap with some ham in it, consumed a bottle of ale, sat and Dylife'd and, much more comfortable, set off for the summit described by Wynford Vaughan Thomas as having "the finest view in the whole of Wales".

There's no doubt that it is a very good view, but I don't think it's any better than that from the top of Cader Idris on a clear day, or Snowdon, or Fan y Big, or any other of those much taller peaks. What I do like about this particular view, though, is the way you can see the road down to Machynlleth snaking away on what appears to be a series of ridges, In fact, the best view isn't quite from the top, as the road at its highest point is between a couple of shoulders of land, and there's a viewing point a little further down.

The Number of Cyclist Count was massively increased at this stage as there was some sort of road race going on, which involved the competitors climbing from Machynlleth and then hurtling down the other side. I made sure that I was wearing my full winter gear again as although the rain had stopped and there were some blue patches appearing, it was far from warm. I set off on the descent, but didn't need my brakes all that much as there was a headwind. Down, down, down I went and eventually came to rest on a picnic table outside a fish & chip shop whilst awaiting my companions. They turned up in short order and we then had another mile or so to ride to our hotel, Plas Dolguog, and old, fairly rambling place. My room was very comfortable and had a splendid view across the Dyfi valley towards Cader Idris, which I couldn't see because someone had placed a 666 metre high peak in my direct line of view. The armchair from which I admired this splendid vista had seen rather better days as one of its arms fell off whilst I was sitting in it, and one of the handles inside the bath was also broken. We ate our meal in the hotel, in a dining room that was designed to seat far more people than were actually there, and we wondered how such a place could keep going.

Jeff, Ian and I partook of a nightcap consisting of Penderyn, and the conversation became somewhat heated. Ian, a retired accountant, has a certain set of views which are perhaps not atypical of that profession and he and I did not see eye to eye on a number of key political points. However, no blows were exchanged and we were still on speaking terms when we got up for breakfast the following day.

Oh, Bach without any doubt. Bach every time for me.

Socks

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Re: Four do the Lôn Las Cymru
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2019, 08:36:22 pm »


Jeff, Ian and I partook of a nightcap consisting of Penderyn, and the conversation became somewhat heated. Ian, a retired accountant, has a certain set of views which are perhaps not atypical of that profession and he and I did not see eye to eye on a number of key political points. However, no blows were exchanged and we were still on speaking terms when we got up for breakfast the following day.

Thanks for sharing these Wowbagger.  And yes, shame to spoil a good cycling trip with the current political bollocks.

Wowbagger

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Re: Four do the Lôn Las Cymru
« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2019, 08:37:08 pm »
9th June - Machynlleth to Barmouth

The weather today seemed considerably better than it had been. We headed through the town, over the Dyfi and then on the road up past the Centre for Alternative Technology. Annie wanted to spend some time there, but we other three didn't particularly. I found it to be of great interest when the children were small some 30 years ago, with working panels heating water to a scalding temperature, and what appeared to be far too many exhibits from Southampton University of projects which appeared to have bitten the dust because someone arbitrarily withdrew funding. But with "alternative" technology now pretty mainstream, albeit perhaps not as widespread as it should be, I didn't want to spend time there.

We carried on into Corris and stopped for coffee. There was an excellent little café run by a young woman from Lytham St. Annes. What was left of my diet flew right out of the window when I ordered a scone with jam and cream. Although I certainly didn't complain about the quality, I find it a trifle disappointing that the jam comes from Essex and the cream from Cornwall. OK, maybe soft fruit farming in Wales isn't well developed, but they have a burgeoning dairy industry. Maybe I'm just churlish.

Shortly after leaving the café I heard a voice from behind saying "It's a bit hilly round here!" "Yes," I replied, without looking round, "I don't know why I came." My partner in repartee pulled alongside on a very find Dawes Galaxy constructed of Reynolds 631 tubing. I admired his steed. "Do you like it? I just got it off Ebay. Only paid 200 quid". He had put a nice set of butterfly bars on it and it suited him well. A youngish chap with a lady friend who wasn't with him on this trip, he told me about his tent, a Wild Country Zephyros 2 that was too small for two of them to camp in comfortably. "I used to have one," I said. "Too small for me. These days my solo camping is generally in a Hilleberg Nallo 3GT. Overkill for a tent for 1 person, but weighs hardly any more than the Nallo 2." We caught up with my 3 companions and after a few more minutes our new friend was off up the hill at a pace far more suited to a young chap probably rather less than half my age.

Having plied myself with superfluous calories, I felt it my duty to climb the enormous hill ahead of us. It's nothing like as high as the previous monsters, but it's much steeper. We were pushing our bikes for a long time but when we reached the top there was a lovely descent. We were actually pretty much on the shoulder of Cader Idris now and the descent to the A road, near the Cross Foxes pub, was steep and rapid. Curiously, we met hardly any other cyclists today. I would have expected them to be out and about on a Sunday morning, especially as the weather was greatly improved, but no-one at all approached us from the direction of Dolgellau.

We stopped for lunch in a very pleasant café and then had a comparatively easy afternoon: we cycled the Mawddach trail to Barmouth, stopping at the George Pub for ale. We crossed the bridge and found that the human toll collector had been replaced with a troll who asked for cash on the "honesty box" principle. We found our B & B quite easily and then went to a rather good little place that brewed its own beer and served some good burgers. After that , since we were at the seaside I bought an ice cream which, to be honest, I found rather disappointing.





















Oh, Bach without any doubt. Bach every time for me.

Wowbagger

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Re: Four do the Lôn Las Cymru
« Reply #10 on: June 13, 2019, 08:48:42 pm »
10th June - Barmouth to Criccieth

Another relatively fine day seemed in the offing, and we did indeed set off in good spirits. I could hear a swishing something happening with my rear wheel, so I stopped and had a look. Quite a lot of the Mawddach Trail was stuck in my rear mudguard so I kicked it a few times and a lovely wedge of partially hardened mud fell out onto the road. After that the swishing stopped.

There is no alternative, at least for some of the time, to riding on the main road towards Talybont and Dyffryn Ardudwy. We found a pub that was serving coffee but no cake, but there was a small shop across the road selling Welsh cakes and fruitcake slices. I bought some and we had them with our coffee. Then we took a minor road just for the scenery and some of the views were breathtaking. We were quite definitely in North Wales now and we could see across the water to the Lleyn peninsula. A little while later we found ourselves in Harlech, and we had lunch. It was a veggie place just across the road from the castle and I had nachos. The chillis were rather strong and it took me a while to finish, so I then went next door to the excellent ice cream shop and calmed my taste buds down again. (It turned out that we had missed my brother and his wife by an hour or so. They quite often visit Dyffryn Ardudwy for the beach, and had spent a couple of days there in their camper van before going on to Harlech. They had had an ice cream in the same shop as we did.)

After leaving Harlech it was our intention to ride up onto the scenic route again, but we lost Ian for a while. The other three of us waited and when he reappeared he told us that the delay was because his rear rack had snapped at the bolt-hole and he was worried that it would end up in his spokes. I effected a temporary repair with a bungee, and it seemed secure, but we continued our ride across a couple of estuaries, one of them being The Cob, and found a bike shop in Porthmadoc. It was closed. However, we also found The Australia pub, where Pws Mws beer is brewed. We had some of that and it was superb. We also noticed that the temperature had crept up to about 18°C.

We were not far from our B & B in Criccieth, but NCN 8 wanted us to go back up into the hills. There was a much more direct route which we decided to take, and we were glad of the shared use footpath alongside the road. It was a bit narrow in places, but that road was quite busy. As we cycled through Criccieth I was on the lookout for somewhere to eat after we had checked into our B & B and I noted a Chinese/oriental place called Mei's Fusion. We checked into the Tirionfa and again Annie chose not to join us, but she definitely missed a treat this time. Very good indeed.

















Oh, Bach without any doubt. Bach every time for me.

Wowbagger

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Re: Four do the Lôn Las Cymru
« Reply #11 on: June 13, 2019, 09:15:25 pm »
11th June - Criccieth to Caernarfon

Our shortest day by far. We only had 20 or so miles to do and nothing much by way of climbing. However, the weather forecast was lousy and we decided to hack straight on and try to beat the rain. There was a biting NNE wind and at times it slowed us down. We did pay our respects to David Lloyd George, whose grave is at Llanystwmdwy, a short distance from Criccieth, and I wound Ian up by saying that DLG was a Great Man because he was one of the first to Stick It To The Tories. Jeff thought this was amusing. Poignantly, in front of the grave there was one solitary yellow Welsh poppy in flower.

About half our ride today was on a disused railway. This involved a gentle climb up to almost 500' above sea level but after that it was a fine swoop into Caernarfon. I sent a tweet to Nikki OTP as when she and I were there some 6 years ago the rain was biblical. Today, the promised rain failed to materialise, although it was cold and leaden. We found some rather good fish & chips for lunch, just by Lloyd George's statue, and then found a bike shop of sorts, but they had no rear racks for sale. At around 2pm we found our B & B and I had a snooze, awoken by Jeff suggesting going to a pub. This we did, the Black Boy, and I had a couple of pints of "Cwtch", a South Wales brew. I had first encountered this beer in Kent, of all places, and I'd liked it there, so I asked the barmaid for a Cwtch. ("Cwtch" is Welsh for "cuddle", so I said to her "I hope you don't take this personally, but I'd really like a cwtch", as in "A man walked into a bar and asked the barmaid for a double entendre, so she gave him one.") We also had some rather good food in the form of a lamb kofte starter and I had rump of lamb for my main course. There are too many sheep in Wales...

It was still quite early when we finished, so we walked around Morrisons. We had an early start planned for our final day and wanted to take some calories with us. I found flapjack and chocolate. Jeff also bought a bottle of red for us to consume back at our B & B.









Oh, Bach without any doubt. Bach every time for me.

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Re: Four do the Lôn Las Cymru
« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2019, 09:52:02 pm »
12th June - Caernarfon to Holyhead

We ordered breakfast for 7.45am so that we could get an early start. We each had train-specific tickets and mine was the earliest at 2.36pm. I was heading for Shrewsbury to spend the night at my brother's house, the others all finished their journeys at Chester. We had another wet day in store, and it was raining from the off. Our first 7 miles or so were along the straits to the Menai Bridge and the wind was in our faces. This took us over an hour, and if we followed the full route we had 38 miles to do, our longest day. Once we crossed the bridge I took the executive decision that I was going to hack along the A5 as it shortened the route by about 4 miles. Thus it was that we parted company at Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwryndrobll-llantisiliogogogoch and the others took the minor road.

I confess to having a quick look at the station to see what time the next train was. Cycling holidays are meant to be fun, and being lacerated by a stinging drizzle whilst the wind tries playfully to throw you under a truck is not my idea of fun. However, since there was 1h 40m until the next train, I thought I would press on. I reckoned I had about 26 miles more to do and more than 4 hours left.

To begin with, the A5 wasn't too bad. It's the old single carriageway next to the A55, a dual carriageway, so I didn't expect it to be terribly busy. For a while there was a white line with about a metre of road space to the left of it, so I treated this as a cycle path. There was some debris to negotiate, but it was OK, but then gradually I started to climb and the road began to get narrower. All too frequently large lorries went hurtling by giving me very little space. I reached a village called Rhostrehwfa and decided to have a reappraisal. I could see from the map that there was a minor road to the south of the A5 but running parallel to it for quite some time, so I took this and it became much more pleasant. The weather was still dreadful, but I was making good time. Then, on the Garmin, a road dotted in blue appeared. It was NCN route 8 again, now going much more directly westward. What was more, on the paper map it gave a countdown in miles to the end of the Lon Las Cymru. I was, according to that, only 11 miles from Holyhead and it was a little under 3 hours to my train's departure. I began to have visions of lunch before the train set off.

I found my way into Caergeiliog and again left Route 8 for my own homespun version, reducing the required distance still further. Not long afterwards, near Valley, the signs seemed to be sending me off in a northerly direction, but from here I could see the bridge I needed to take for the last two or three miles to Holyhead. The wind had one final attempt to push me off my bike, but at last I was out of its grips and cycling through a wood on a rather rough track which was quite steep in places. I emerged onto a residential road with bungalows, past a Lidl and finally arrived at Holyhead station at 1.10pm. I looked around for a café, discovered that the retail outlet associated with the Dublin ferry sold something which didn't look much like food, so I followed a rather modern structure which involved climbing a spiral bridge to the centre of Holyhead. There, across the road, was Holly Molly's Café, and I could see through the steamed up windows that there were quite a few people in there having lunch. I went in and ordered a cheese, ham, bacon & mushroom omelette with chips and salad, and a large mug of tea, and it didn't take long before I was tucking into exactly what a cold, wet, tired but nonetheless triumphant cyclist deserves. I sent a text to Jeff to let him know that I had finished the ride, and when I finished the food I returned to the station to the news that some trains were being disrupted because of flooding. So far, mine looked to be OK.

I kept an eye open for my companions, but they didn't appear, and when the train turned up at about 2.20, I boarded it and spread my stuff out to try and dry it. We were just about to set off when I spotted Jeff on the platform. He hadn't seen me so I walked into the next carriage to be met by Ian, whose bike was occupying the disabled bay. I helped him to carry it through to the bike area and he told me of their last few miles. It seemed that they had been confused by the same sign that almost caught me out, and had gone a couple of miles off piste before they realised their mistake. They arrived just in time for Ian to board the train, and he had decided that he would buy another ticket rather than wait for his scheduled train 2 hours later. Jeff & Annie's train was scheduled for 3.47. "Jeff's quite cross," Ian confided.

When the train manager came along Ian offered to pay for another ticket but she wouldn't hear of it. "No," she said, "There's a lot of disruption due to flooding so we just want to get people home. Were they your friends on the platform? If I'd known they could have travelled on this train as well for no extra cost."

Oh, Bach without any doubt. Bach every time for me.

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Re: Four do the Lôn Las Cymru
« Reply #13 on: June 13, 2019, 09:56:50 pm »
Epilogue

It turned out that the River Dee had burst its banks somewhere along the route and our train was terminating at Chester. This was fine for Ian as his wife was meeting him in the car. However, I now had to negotiate a trip to Shrewsbury by non-rail methods. A customer services droid was in the station concourse talking to disrupted passengers.

When it was my turn he went and had a word with the driver of a coach that was about to leave for Shrewsbury. The driver agreed to take me and my bike so I got to Shrewsbury at about 6.30, 75 minutes later than scheduled. I couldn't use the path alongside the Severn as it was under water, but even so it didn't take me more than about 40 minutes to find my way to Chris & Andrea's house in Condover where an excellent beef stew and a bottle of good red awaited me. The shower could wait until I had been fed.
Oh, Bach without any doubt. Bach every time for me.

Re: Four do the Lôn Las Cymru
« Reply #14 on: June 13, 2019, 11:08:11 pm »
Great trip report and thanks for posting, a route I would like to do sometime soon but I would do it north to south as my sister lives in Lydney just north of Chepstow which would be a good finish for myself.

Re: Four do the Lôn Las Cymru
« Reply #15 on: June 14, 2019, 07:29:03 am »
Sounds like a great trip.
Miles cycled 2014 = 3551.5 (Target 7300 :()
Miles cycled 2013 = 6141.4
Miles cycled 2012 = 4038.1

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Re: Four do the Lôn Las Cymru
« Reply #16 on: June 15, 2019, 07:28:21 pm »
Oh, Bach without any doubt. Bach every time for me.

Re: Four do the Lôn Las Cymru
« Reply #17 on: June 15, 2019, 09:04:20 pm »
Thanks for sharing this, that was a good read.

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Re: Four do the Lôn Las Cymru
« Reply #18 on: June 16, 2019, 06:18:51 pm »
Photos added.
Oh, Bach without any doubt. Bach every time for me.