Day 13

Sun 4 Oct:  Aberdovey to Criccieth, via Barmouth

Sometimes when I wake, for a few moments I haven’t a clue where I am. Today was one of those days. It took a while to remember I was with Claire & Jane in a caravan in one of the most stunning settings on the planet.

Sun rising to the left, lighting up copper coloured bracken on the small mountain close by to the right, with the sparkling Dovey estuary taking centre stage way below as it flows into the vastness of Cardigan Bay. Over to Margaret’s warm farmhouse kitchen for breakfast. Just right.

Back on the coast road, heading north with a lightened load, having the luxury of a support crew today to carry some of my baggage. Apparently I was looking down at my rear wheel at the moment C&J overtook. They didn’t realise that I was looking in dismay at a slowly deflating tyre. Oh well, at least I hadn’t off-loaded the puncture repair kit and pump. Problem was, my old faithful, high mileage mini track pump chose today to shred it’s innards and seize up. I’ll leave out the next messy hour of frustration in a phone signal-free zone and cut straight to the most amazing coincidence of the week. I came to a final rumbling flat halt right outside the Llwyngwryl holiday home we’d rented four years earlier, just as the team car crested the brow ahead, on their way back to find me. Claire’s charm worked a treat in her neighbourhood hunt for a pump to borrow. The lovely “Kath with a K” from across the road produced not one, but two compact pumps and insisted that she donated one to the cause. Repair done, tyre (and ego) re-inflated with ease. On to Barmouth (aka Birmingham on Sea) via the incredibly long, thin, flimsy looking cycle/foot/rail bridge over the Mawddach Estuary. Obviously not structurally suited to heavy cars or motorcycles, but fine for regular scheduled ArrivaWales trains!

Thank you Pete Davies (Barmouth ALB Cox’n) and Norma for turning up on a Sunday and waiting! Fingers crossed for a puncture-free last 25 miles to Criccieth.

Ten miles later the need for a quick “comfort break” drew my attention to The Branwen, a pub nestling in the shadow of Harlech Castle. Apologies for the hasty thrusting of my trusty steed into the care of an honest looking couple enjoying a quiet bottle of wine at their picnic table. On exiting the pub’s facilities in a more comfortable, relaxed state I did thank them for their bike-minding but must also publicly thank them (Carol&Peter DeLacey) again now for the generous donation to the RNLI. At first, I thought they were just paying me to leave them alone.

Good views of Snowdonia from the Porthmadog Cob.  Found the travel-weary but happy support crew on the Criccieth sea front enjoying hot tea & doughnuts. No caravan tonight. Even better. Front facing rooms in the rather swish Caerwylan Hotel and dinner at the amazing new Dylan’s restaurant in the carefully restored Art Deco building at the end of the promenade. A more than handsome reward for a mildly exhausting but memorable day. Many thanks to Claire & Jane.

Day 14