Having just looked at the two route profiles for the next two days of cycling to Cardiff in the Cicerone guide, I think today will go down as the most challenging stage of the Lon Las Cymru, certainly in a vertical sense. Around 1,000 metres of climbing; one peak in the morning, a larger one in the afternoon, the col below Mynud Y Waun and Foel Fadian respectively.
I did push on occasions and stopped frequently, especially to the second high point as the best views of the day were back from where I had come…
Which was the soggy campsite in Dolgellau. I can’t remember ever having visited a campsite before where I arrived, entered the tent and didn’t emerge again until the following morning. That’s what happened last night such was the grim weather outside. Having a shower earlier this evening on tonight’s campsite was double the joy.
‘Welsh’ breakfast (small size) was courtesy of a café back in the centre of Dolgellau and then off it was for the immediate climb to 300 metres through Hobbit-esque countryside.
I had an elongated chat with a sheep farmer on the way up – he was difficult to understand at times – but managed to explain his admiration for the ‘Yorkshire shepherdess’ and her numerous children.
Alas the rain returned by the time I was descending the other side of the pass…
…I’m still waiting for the call from the clothes manufacturers Rab with the offer of a sponsorship deal. It is a remarkable jacket! Here’s the link. It actually keeps you dry from the waist up. That can’t be said of many ‘waterproof’ jackets. Further down the valley it was interesting to pass through a few slate villages and even a functioning slate mine. Those posh kitchens have got to get their table tops from somewhere…
After crossing this remarkable bridge…
(It actually looks even better in the video I tweeted)
…I paused for lunch in Machynlleth – ‘the ancient capital of Wales’ – next to a new age hangout. I’ve just read that the town is a centre of alternative culture which is evident even after a short cycle through the centre. I munched on one of the two large pork pies I had purchased from the bakery back in Dolgellau as I pondered the full meaning of this sign:
And then embarked on the bigger of the two climbs:
That is looking back in the direction I had come from. Nearer to the highest point, there was a viewpoint dedicated to Wynford Vaughan-Thomas;
He chose a good view as his favourite in Wales.
The final descent was gratifyingly long (albeit with a few short, sharp climbs). This time the industry on show was that of forestry. Kath – who I stayed with via Warmshowers in Caernarfon – works for the Welsh forestry authority and it was interesting seeing in practice what she had explained over the meal in her house. Not always pretty, but what they do to manage the forests does make sense. Here was a pretty bit:
A few kilometres later I was in Llanidloes, another town that I can’t pronounce properly but there you go. The fault is all mine… Tonight’s campsite meal beckons. It is spaghetti and green pesto surprise! You’ll never guess what the surprise is… More tomorrow. (And probably more spaghetti and pesto…)