Clytha to Bristol, 40 miles

I had bacon, cockles and laverbread for a hearty breakfast which was super, and almost from the menu as part of a Welsh Breakfast at the Clytha Arms.

There were a couple of steep hills after Usk and we chatted to some road cyclists on the way up: they were faster than us but equally pressed. A lot more cyclists on a Saturday across the whole route.

Chepstow was busy and Michael did a good job of following Route 42 right into town to the end of the Route beside Chepstow Castle and the old  bridge over the River Wye.

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We stopped for a lovely lunch (Pieminster) at the Chepstow Castle Inn, and a celebratory beer. Michael had a huge cheese ploughman’s.

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Next step to cycle back up the hill out of town to cross back into England, across the old Severn Bridge.

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There was a surprising number of hills following Route 4 to get back to Bishopston. It was great to cycle all the way back to our house! Got home about 3pm.

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Today’s Track (last one)

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Celebrated with dinner and lovely beers in the Barley Mow.

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Builth Wells to Clytha, 54 miles, via Hay-on-Wye

Spectacular and exhilarating descents today. This was our longest day, 6 1/2 hours and our highest day, reaching almost 2000 feet.

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We left Route 8 onto Route 42.

Stopped for scones with Jam and Cream at Hay-on-Wye, which was charming.

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Out for Hay-on-Wye we were straight into a long climb up to Gospel Pass: exposed and windy. We had amazing views, lucky for us as it had been cloudy in the morning as we approached the Black Hills.

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We coped well with the climb, it was quite spread out. The descent was long an exhilarating.

Stopped for a light lunch at Llanthony Priory, in the 12C bar.

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The countryside changed a bit, and softens. Abergavenny was a bit rough: we had a quick look at the castle ruins but pressed on to Clytha, where we are staying at the Clytha Arms.

Today’s track.

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Llanidloes to Builth Wells, 33 miles

A bit of an easier day. Largely downhill, following the River Wye, but with some climbs along the way. The countryside was gentler today, through sheep farms.

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We stopped for tea at Rhayader: lovely rock cake and scone with jam and cream.

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We followed a rough coaching track  for quite a way and had to walk the first part when it was just too rough to give it a go on road bikes.

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Quick lunch in the New Inn at Newbridge-on-Wye. Felt lucky it was open. Nice chips!

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Then a descent to Builth Wells, home of the Royal Welsh Show, and bull themed throughout.

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It’s a bit less touristic than the other stops we’ve had, but we have a lovely room in the Bronwye Guest House.

We went to the local swimming pool, 100 yards away, and had the pool and sauna to ourselves for a couple of hours. Good to stretch out our back muscles with some swimming.

Dinner was great lemon sole and fish pie at the Greyhound, with a couple of pints of Cwrw (strong in welsh). Good.

Today’s Track:

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All set for tomorrow, the toughest of the trip.

Corris to Llanidloes, 30 miles

Got a hug from Kevin when we left the Corris Youth Hostel, then headed largely downhill to Machynlleth which looked lovely, but we didn’t have time to dally.

A long winding mountain road took us through great scenery to finally reach the highest point on Route 8: 509m / 1700 feet. Getting there was not too difficult but the cycling (glucose) gel certainly helped me make the last push up to the summit.

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Descending the other side we entered the Hafren Forest and it was a really long 3 miles of signposts to reach the picnic tables for our lunch stop. The place was busy for such a remote spot (about 20 people there).

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That then placed us close to the source of the River Severn and we followed the river and valley down to Llanidloes. A really lovely cycle.

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Our track for the day.

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We’re staying at Lloyd’s Hotel in Llanidloes. Tom gave us a warm welcome and it’s an impressive and comfortable place: well worth coming back to. We won’t be eating there tonight, which is a pity. (They have a large group booking)

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After a long wallow in the bath in our huge bathroom, we explored the town and its four main streets, intersecting at the 17th C old market building.

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We also went down to see the Severn and found a statue of Sabrina and the legend of the course of the Severn (the source is also very close to the source of the River Wye). Michael had been telling my the legend on the way down the hill during our ride.

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Most excitingly, there are four CAMRA Good Beer Guide pubs in Llanidloes. That’s the evening sorted then!

We are at The Unicorn (steak night) and drank at The Angel, which had good Everard’s Tiger and a great local atmosphere. Then at the Crown and Anchor, which has a beautiful old interior. Rev James there.

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Dolgellau to Corris, 9.5 miles

Described in our guide as tough, it was unrelenting but not daunting. A big climb! You can see from the track how my average speed dropped as I got pooped near the summit and how many stops I had on the way there.

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A misty cool start to the day. I bought a new cycle helmet after loosing the shell of my old helmet in the dunes yesterday. The new one is rather bright and reminds me of the “Oi mate, you got a bunch of bananas on your head?” of my first cycle helmet.

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The grind up the hill through some lovely valleys was on a good but rough surface covered with sheep poo. The bikes had a wash and chain clean tonight: really needed after yesterday’s beach and dusty tracks.

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On the way down into Corris, we had a great valley view open up before us. The descent was fearsome and my brakes got impressively hot but didn’t smoke.

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Slate fence at Corris

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We passed through a slate workings close to Corris at the end of the long run down. Our track is here.

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We’re staying at Corris Hostel, an old primary school and now a private hostel. Huge place and Kevin has been really lovely: went shopping for food for us before we arrived so we wouldn’t have to lug it from Dolgellau. The pub isn’t doing food at the moment.

We had tea and bara brith from the tea shop at Corris Railway museum. Lovely little museum with an outstanding model railway. Very chummy in there having tea with the locals.

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Railway model of Corris

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Corris in real life

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We have all the makings of a chilli bolognese for dinner, with wine. Then off to the Slaters Arms”

Porthmadoc to Dolgellau, 36 miles and a break on the beach

The Lôn Las Cymru route guide was good preparation for the first section of our ride to Barmouth:

The 20% incline signs understate some of the bends.

A knee-crunching 220m ascent

Heart-thumping rollercoaster up and down the foothills of the Rhinogydd.

And so it proved to be.

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The first (of three) 20% climbs soon had us walking, which was a bit disappointing and the 10kg of luggage made a big difference. We soon learned to take breaks on the way up the hills, and managed to cycle almost all the rest of the climbs, including the stonking climb from sea level to just under 300m. The views were stunning throughout and the sun blazing.

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From the top, the views were superb. We were passed by a rather for road cyclist on a lightweight bike who was pretty impressed we were doing this with panniers.

From there a quick descent to the coast, another climb inland, and the a detour for Morffa Dyffryn naturist beach. The weather was stunning and we had to buy a bottle of sun block to survive our couple if hours on the beach, which was busy. No towel, so we had to lie in the sand. Its a really impressive beach.

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Barmouth was fun and had a nice seaside atmosphere.

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The ride across the estuary on the wooden railway bridge was good fun and followed by a lovely fast cycle on old lines up the estuary to Dolgellau.

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Link to track is here.

We’re staying at the friendly and impressive Ty Seren, in a lovely old slate woollen mill. We have the ‘loft’ room and the bikes have secure storage in the cella

Dolgellau is lovely. We had a nice Purple Moose beers after a good dinner in a bistro in the Main Square: Sospan.

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Caernarfon to Porthmadoc, 32 miles, and Ffestiniog Railway

Manx kippers and smoked haddock for breakfast and for most of the morning too. Really rural and beautiful off-road route along railway lines with views of Mt Snowdon.

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The route drops to Cardigan Bay at Criccieth, which was shimmering in the sun. Also baking hot.

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From there, a tiring 2km ascent to Portmadoc, at one stage along a single-track footpath at the top of a field (still on Route 8). The full track of the day is here.

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Once in Porthmadoc we bought tickets for the Ffestiniog Railway before checking in at our hotel, The Golden Fleece Inn at Tremadog. Nice lunch sharing a table with two attractive young guys on an 85mile day tour.

Great train journey on the Ffestiniog railway, in a baking hot carriage.

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Nice beer and wine on the train, and a very quiet carriage made it all the more enjoyable. Going round the Dduallt circle to gain height was great fun and watching the single track tokens being changed was interesting.

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Dinner back in the Golden Fleece Inn. The Barolo Burger was lush!

Holyhead to Caernarfon, 47 miles

Lovely breakfast at Hungry Bees in Holyhead to set us up for the day’s ride. We made a detour to see South Stack lighthouse on the tip of Anglesey: great spot.

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A few hills but largely flat, with only a few cars made the ride from Holyhead to Menai Bridge really enjoyable: we stopped for lunch at the Bridge Inn before a spectacular cycle over the suspension bridge. The Straits at Menai are very fast.

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Only about 7 miles from there to Caernarfon, where we’re staying at the lovely Black Boy Inn, where we have a room at the end of a small maze on the first floor. The Inn is inside the old walled town and a short stroll from the artisan icecream shop and the Castle: we explored both in the afternoon.

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The castle is high: it’s possible to get to the top of the towers. I really like the reconstructed rooms and windows.

Dinner in the Black Boy Inn was rather large and quite meaty. That on top of two pints of beer has left us rather sleepy.

Here’s the track on Google Maps.

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