Day 3: Barmouth to Llanidloes
Waking to the sound of bleating sheep today, I woke early and put some water to boil in the tent for a morning coffee. Apart from the sheep it was quiet with a great morning view of the estuary below. We packed our bags and the tent and rolled down to the cycle route below the field where we had pitched for the night.
Apart from the occasional runner and cyclist the route was quiet at 9:30 in the morning; we continued along to Dolgellau with a stop at anther toll bridge along the way and within an hour we had arrived at the town where we stopped at the first cafe for a second breakfast.
We didn’t see much of Dolgellau but the town is a nice looking place; the route from here climbs the mountain behind the town and from the map I could see it would be a steep ascent. The climb went on for a long time but as we approached the top there were some superb views of the mountains surrounding us. The road was almost deserted apart from two road cyclists who sped passed us during the climb. The road eventually ended and we followed a tarmac path across the mountainside until it reached another road which took us down to the start of another climb.
We went through the gate and around a bend in the road which revealed a steep steady climb to the top, we were in mid Wales and there seemed to be no way to go but over a mountain in every direction. We climbed with views of Cadair Idris to the west; a mountain with a height of 893 metres.
As we cycled we could hear cheers and shouting, at first I thought I was hallucinating but on the neighbouring mountain we could just make out a group of people cheering at us; they must have been thinking we were crazy climbing the road.
At the top of this climb we had views down a valley and looking over yet more mountains; as we left the top a fighter jet roared past, it was so close we could see the details of under its wings. The road down was steeper than our road up, it wound its way down the mountain and was covered with small chippings, it made for a slow decent and I had to hold the brakes most of the way down. From here we road to the town of Machynlleth, it was market day and the town was packed, we picked up some lunch and sat in the park preparing for the biggest mountain climb of the ride.
The road from Machynlleth climbs the highest road on NCN Route 8. Its a great road with awesome views but there was more traffic than on any other climb on the route and most cars were speeding past; at a narrow point ahead of us two of them clipped wing mirrors, as the car coming towards us passed the glass of his wing mirror was hanging off and as we passed the spot the BT van which had hit him had left his mirror glass on the road, neither of the drivers stopped. Later on a Subaru came hurtling towards us out of a corner; he must have mistaken the mountain road for a rally stage as he sped past. For most of the time we were alone on the mountain but when the traffic did come by it was certainly noticeable.
The road had many turns and each time we thought we were at the top a turn would reveal another hill, surely we thought there was nowhere else to climb too. At its highest point the route reaches 510 metre’s, this was our third large climb of the day and we had started at sea level at the Mawddach estuary.
The top was welcome but time was getting on and we still had 15 miles to cover so we just kept going, the decent was a welcome break for the climbing and we followed the route to Llanidloes along the River Severn. The route alongside the river is one of my favourite sections of NCN Route 8 with a great picnic spot along the way, the route is undulating but closer towards Llanidloes there is more descending towards the town. We reached a junction on the route with the option of going into the town or another five miles to a campsite in Llangurig. Our legs were tired from all the climbing so we opted for the campsite at Llanidloes.
We had climbed 6092 feet in 46 miles; Dol-Llys Farm and Campsite was a welcome site, it was a much more established campsite than the previous two nights and for a change we pitched close to the facilities to save our legs. After dinner and beer I was out for the count.