Great Escape pt 1.2

I’ve found that on Days 3 and 4 I’ve settled into the routine of travelling a bit more. I think I’m adjusting a bit more each day to the idea of travelling and being away from home and my normal routines. And writing this is helping me document the experiment.

It’s like as I’m losing my connection to my home base, and growing a greater connection to myself as my base. I would think of it as my ‘gravity’ growing stronger.

(This is also two days late, and went on a bit longer than I intended, but I'll keep trying to get the hang of this travel-writing lark). 

Day 3 - Pontypridd to Maerdy

This was my first ‘transitional’ day; where I was moving from one location to another. The weather was looking undecided, and I set out really early as I knew I had about 4 hours of travelling and wanted to explore Craig Goch dam and its related reservoirs as a halfway point.

I made good time through to Brecon, and got to see the Beacons under mist; the weather was pretty much constantly spotting throughout, not hard enough to soak me through, but rainy enough for my visor to be in ‘lock-down’ mode. About 2 hours into my travelling, mostly following the A470 northwards, I got to a place called Rhayader which is the gateway town to the Elan valleys. The ride up into the hills to get the mountains was pretty breathtaking, even if it was overcast. I stopped to take a photo of Garth, before settling the bike near the first damn.

Nearby there were lots of young birds and they were pretty curious and flew right around the bike numerous times as I was getting changed into my hiking gear. They were cute. But there was no dramatic finger-landing moment, just a half-hearted landing attempt on my hand guards.

 On Craig Goch damn

On Craig Goch damn

The walk through the woods was really nice, and when I got up onto a nearby mountain, the top was soft and grassy (so grassy that it was a bit awkward in parts). Once back down, I took a ride around the rest of the reservoirs. The roads that go over each damn are only wide enough for one vehicle - but fortunately there were no awkward meetings.

After leaving the largest dam, Claerwen, my fuel gauge dropped into a single bar just before I got into Rhayader. I was worried that I might find garages closed on the bank holiday, and that '25 miles' of fuel may not be enough. But fortunately a small garage nearby was open, and an old guy came and filled the bike himself (fancy). I then had about 2.5 hours of riding, and as I went the weather brightened up, and made the riding a lot more relaxed. 

In the first hour after leaving Rhayader I realised I took a wrong turn and rode 10 miles in the wrong direction(although those 10 miles of road where really spectacular). I turned around and carried on the right way, and later turned onto the B4518 - the road is a lot of fun and blew me away with the suddenly appearance of Clywedog reservoir. Literally blew me away. I was yelling into my helmet that it how good the reveal was. It may never be that same moment but I must go back there one day.

Fast forward an hour. My butt was seriously tired. After stopping for a rest with about 40 mins left to travel, I pulled onto the A494, which goes through Bala. Shortly after passing through the town, I caught up with two bikers who were making their way past vehicles steadily. I was able to catch up and followed them along until we parted ways on the A5. It was a sick ride.

Shortly after I made it to my Airbnb, later than advertised but glad for a rest. The house was great with some old school features and the host (Bex) was absolutely lovely. That evening I headed to nearby Corwen for some food in a local pub, where the locals quizzed me about bikes.


Day 4 - Snowdon bound

As it was my first time in Wales, I’ve never been to Snowdon. I feel like it was a hike I must check off my list, and as the weather was shaping up to be so great it was the perfect time to go. My friend Jack had told me he had been up the Watkin path, which was the longest climb, so naturally that was the way I was going to go.

It was a pretty long way up as it happens, I think in many ways it seemed misleading, and it’s certainly a path that reveals more of itself as you reach certain milestones. Shortly after setting off, I marked a damned part of the stream to bathe my feet in on the way back down. The hills were lush and green, but gradually the path grew steeper and windier. I took refuge in the rather petty shade of an outcrop at one point, as I felt the sun wearing me down, and I took some time to chill and re-hydrate. I was also able to refill my bottle from the tiniest of streams, and made great use of my snood to help ‘filter’ the water.

Continuing on the trail wound upwards and was made up of chunky bits of rock. About 3/4 of the way along, the trail flattens out, giving me a much needed break as I face the challenge ahead. From this point I can see the peak of Snowdon, and it’s just one last tough scramble up a scree slope (about 250m in height to gain). On the way up I got chatting to a lady who knew the area well, and met her lovely 10 year old Labrador who had fun digging up the mountainside.

 A good view

A good view

The views at the top were great. But it was really crowded. I was able to get myself a snack from the cafe (and I think it’s pretty cool there is a cafe so high up), as well as some lemon sherbet sweets. When I reach a great view, I always like to spend an hour or so to relax and really take it in, but in this instance I moved a little down the hill as I found the commotion just too much. I like climbing mountains to gain tranquility not to ruin it.

I headed down a bit of a ridge to make the walk circular, which was nice on the way back, and was able to scrub my face and bathe my feet in the stream near the bottom of the trail.

By the time I got back to the bike, I was pretty tired, but managed a sedate ride out to Caernarfon, which is a pretty cool seaside town. I got some supplies and had my classic Wetherspoons dish; Halloumi sweet chilli wrap.

At the end of the day, I took a bucket of water and got my rags and wiped the bike down. It doesn’t take much to make a bike look dirty if you ride in just a bit of rain. That and I was absolutely fed up of seeing so many mushed up bugs on the bike :(

I'm pretty happy with some of these snaps. 
Signing off for now - end of day 6 (Yep, I am behind on the old writing).