Funny old day today. I’m starting to adopt what I suspect are the hours of the typical touring camper – bed not long after dark, up at the crack of dawn (no sniggers or innuendo please). This morning I woke at 5am along with the seagulls. As I’d washed a fee clothes the night before that were in no way dry, I decide to avail myself of the camp dryer and so set it running for 45 minutes whilst I caught up on world news via the iPhone. I do actually like early mornings, but just don’t often get to see them. I think I eat too late and thus get to sleep too late when at home.
So this morning after chores, and giving the tent a chance to dry out as the sun tried to come through, I got about packing away the tent. But then of course it decide to rain and so everything got put away wet. I steeled myself for the day, expecting according to forecast that it was going to be a wet one. But the rain didn’t persist, and after taking care of a fry up in the town cafe the day was starting to look like it might cheer up.
As I left Borth I caught up with fellow two-wheeled traveller Roger, a whippet thin chap with a shock of greying hair who was making slow progress. He was already two weeks into a meander around Wales, with at least another week to go. He seemed unhappy about cycling on the roads and seemed a little concerned by my cycling two-a-breast even though I was wearing my fluorescent jacket at this time (still thinking the rain would return and knowing I had 14 miles of B and A-roads to cover before reaching Machynlleth). But we had a nice chat for a few miles and I bid him farewell.
After a bit of a romp along the roads I came to an old Silver Furnace and stopped to take a look and read about it’s history (not all that interesting it turns out). Off along the road again and there was Roger, stopped outside the Osprey Sanctuary looking a big sheepish. I stopped to say hello again, it was looking like we night be playing a game of tortoise and the hare. He seemed knowledgable about the Ospreys (apparently there are chicks to be seen), and then I dawned on me that I’d probably interrupted him as he took a call of nature. So I said goodbye again and headed off.
It wouldn’t be the last time, as I met him again in Machynlleth in the Spar whilst I was restocking the store cupboard, and he was picking up the daily paper. He’d said that he might get the train from Machynlleth to Dolgellau so he wouldn’t have to go o the A-roads. It was only seeing him off hid bike that I realised that he had a severe disability with his legs which made it difficult for him to walk but didn’t really seem to slow down his cycling.
I headed out of Machynlleth as I want to stop at the Centre fro Alternative Technology, which by now was looking like a good lunch stop as well. The road out of town was a little hilly as it had said on their website so took another half an hour. I stayed for lunch and had a quick wander around – lots of wind turbines, solar, water power etc. Too much to take in so will have to save that for another time. I was still setting sight on Portmadog by the end of the day.
On leaving the road quickly started to get quite hilly but was on a small road on the other side of the river from the A-road. I did consider switch allegiances but the A-road looked windy and fast, and the maps suggest I would turn off before too long, so I stayed on the side road.
And then the road turned uphill. It wound through a small village and the past a old Slate Quarry where there was a man running a business called Sheep Poo Paper, which is really made from sheep poo (amongst other things). He was quite candid and said it was just a marketing gimmick and the poo imparted no advantageous characteristic to the paper, other than to help it sell (or should that be smell?).
Still the road went up, and at one point I nearly had a head on collision with two chaps coming down fast, who merely laughed and shouted ‘enjoy’ as they went past. I now remembered a brief conversation at lunch with an old chap who was cycling south who made some remark about the size of the hill outside Machynlleth – and so this was it.
It got steeper, and steeper, and progressively covered in sheep poo (no shortage of raw materials for the paper chap), and there were sheep and quite a few stock gates to negotiate. After swearing at it for a while I just got to see the funny side. The poo kept adding in the odd back wheel spin just of keep up the merriment. But I got there, and was rewarded with a very fine view just before the clouds descended. I checked the map and it looked like 400 metres of climb in 2 miles for an average of 1 in 8, but I’m sure much of it was steeper than that. I had to stand for most of it to keep the front wheel on he ground. I shall consult the maps closer when I get home.
The descent was equally steep but less than half a mile and I too it dead slow for fear of comic a cropper on the sheep poo. When I got to the main road crossing, two more cyclists turned up so I played the game and laughed at their plight, and did the same shortly after when I stopped to chat with 3 Germans.
The rest of the day was largely flat and pleasant, particularly the stretch along the estuary to Barmouth on an old track bed that meant I could fly along without much effort.
I’ve finally found a campsite about 5 miles from Harlech after trying several that only catered for families and couples. This one is up on the hillside with reasonable views of the bay. I decided on a night in tonight, I had plenty of provisions and couldn’t be arsed to walk the mile or so back to the nearest pub. In fact it’s been nice sitting outside the tent munching through supplies and watching the sun go down. Now the rain has started again, but I’m tucked up now so couldn’t care less!
Welsh phrase of the day: Ar Werth is For Sale. Makes me think it should be said in a Somerset accent as in ‘what’s ar werth then’. So easy to learn a new language really!
No pictures today as there is no wifi on a hillside apparently, and the mobile connection is pretty unreliable too.
Expecting a leisurely day tomorrow, may well take a look at Portmerion as I pass before heading into the hills and the Llanberis Pass, one of my planned detours. I’ve also confirmed a Warmshowers host for Wednesday night so I get s night off from the tent before the train home.