A better day all round, except for the discovery that my glasses had disappeared. (Left in Corris YH? Bizarre. Another victim of beer amnesia?)
The morning ride, out into the misty hills. Green steep sides, sheep, square and stern slate houses. A long climb up a stony path, frankly unsuitable for touring bikes as well as motors. I had to push and scramble and curse. But I was rewarded with a feeling of remoteness, of high hill views back down the valley, and a reasonable descent – rideable but rough – down to Dolgellau.
I liked Dolgellau a lot: Welsh spoken in all the shops, more dour but confident slate buildings arranged in no particular order to make a pleasantly higgledy-piggledy town centre. I picked up some fruit and veg, though the first woman I asked directions from thought I’d said ‘frozen veg’ – my accent, I expect. Or perhaps I looked Scottish.
After a stiff climb up out, I got lost on the way into Coed-y-Brenin forest. I didn’t go too far wrong, picking up a few sporadic signs as I rolled along some up-and-down exciting little lanes that looked down on the hillfarms.
CyB was a long slog though, lots of uphill pushing, some surfaced lanes, lots not. But I was reasonably satisfied – good views, and hilltop semi-wild remoteness. The time/distance-done versus time/distance-to-go equation was worrying me – I’d done about 15 miles in four hours – but I chose the right place for lunch, by a little bridge over a stream in an unpeopled valley. Some cycists passed and I chatted. But most to myself, me and my bread and pate and cheese and fruit – even sun.
Then it got faster. I whooped down a good fast narrow lane past farm walls to Trawsfynydd, then decided to take the A road to Porthmadog. I got to Portmeirion by two, so had plenty of time to look round. I liked it a lot – Disneyesque but with a feeling of authenticity; the real thing for setting fantasy 1960s TV series. A rich mix, all colours and Mediterranean styles, with some English classical columnar facades and an Italian campanile too. I ate my chocolate overlooking the main square garden thing and thought it was a splendidly batty project, building a mishmash of euromaginary houses as a real village on the north Welsh coast.
It was 3pm, time to go. I rode across the causeway road-rail bridge to Porthmadog, and on up to the Lôn Eifion railtrail. This was 12 miles of satisfaction, zooming along on good cinder and, surprisingly, lots of tarmac. I rolled into Caernarfon, a tiny town dominated by the castle.
I was delighted to find the Tourist Office still open – I’d arrived at 5.27pm – and further that there was a hostel: Totters, run by a Brit and his Dutch girlfriend, in a large townhouse within the perfectly preserved walls that circle the old town. All for a tenner inc breakfast, tea coffee, bedding done for you etc.
I strolled round the town – a great little place in the evening sun, all little old streets and pleasant buildings, the huge stern castle with its acres of wall, and the harbourside with boats bobbing. I had chips and a burger, and no beer – just a cuppa or two back at the hostel chatting to fellow inmates.
Miles today: 50
Miles since Cardiff: 191