Lon Las Cymru is a route that has been calling to me for a few years - right through the heartland of Wales. It happens that there's a registry office en route in Dolgellau, so it seemed a fitting way to get married. We stuck a chunk of NCN5 on to the start from Chester and added an extra stretch into Somerset onto the end to beef it out a bit finishing at Blue Anchor near Minehead.
As the holiday season hadn't got underway, most places were closed so finding a place to eat was no simple task. A lovely village before Llandudno came to our rescue with a fancypants pub meal. Semi-defeated we decided to get the train to Bangor to make up the time - that stretch is mostly along the A-road, so we werent missing much & we'd already visited lovely Conwy so had been on that stretch before. We were also stopping at an Airbnb find & I was worried about arriving late, not knowing if our host had an early start for work the next day.
The night-time ride to the train then on to Penisa'r waun was delightful; bats flying alongside us, quiet narrow roads and the shadows of the mountains against the dark sky were breathtaking. Roller coaster roads came one after another.
We arrived at 10.30, our host, Luke who is a fellow cycle tourer was very understanding & lovely company - he had cycled Lon Las Cymru a number of times.
The great thing about arriving somewhere in the dark, is that when morning arrives, you're awarded with a beautiful view. The area here was stunning and I'm sure I could while away many cycling and walking hours just here. I aim to return there for a proper explore.
After leaving the beautiful lanes, we were on the converted railway track which offered mountain views to the west and more distant views of the coast to the east as it worked it's way in land to cut across the peninsular.
The flat track was long forgotten as the route snaked it's way up steep hills and around farms, beautiful, but our legs were already tired from the previous long day in the saddle and getting reaccustomed to hauling two weeks worth of gear in the panniers. Eventually we were rewarded with a fast descent into the pretty seaside town at Criccieth where we enjoyed a picnic overlooking the bay, beneath the castle in a warm sheltered spot.
We plumped for a little bit of rough-stuff along the bridleway coastal path here, although it turned out there was a style we had to lug the heavy bikes over.
As we approached Black Rock Sands, we were greeted by a gentleman on an oldschool ten speed mountain bike & his good lady on a 3 speed, 20 inch wheeled bike with a basket containing crisps and pop. She was taking the rough climb in her stride & apparently kept leaving him far behind as she managed every climb unphased; both joked (with grand Huddersfield accents) about his heart-attacks and the vein surgery he was about to receive. Half an hour later & we were pedalling towards Porthmadog again.
We made a quick stop for provisions before quickly carrying on to the stiff climb we knew was approaching.
We knew that the storms that had battered Wales the other month had left plenty of infrastructure problems in this area, but the miles of A-road diversion was less fun than we anticipated as we powered on with fast traffic on a very narrow road with drivers who must be sorely irritated by not only this huge detour, but the road works & traffic lights along this stretch that they've had to endure since before Christmas. The railway & pedestrian bridge is also out, adding to the volume of traffic on the stretch that cyclists are also being diverted on.
Finally we were through the diversion and we stopped at a roadside b&b which also has a cafe for a brew, a cake & a chill out! Right above us was a very high, steep hill. This is where route 8 goes. But we decided that we would make up for lost time by going on the b-road which runs part way up the hill - offering lovely views, but with less effort. It was a good decision, although I'm sure the off road track is worth checking out another time.
It was a straight run into Barmouth from here and we did make excellent time, better than we'd anticipated, so it was a shame to miss the off road hill, but equally nice to enjoy our luxury room at the b&b, beside the window enjoying a glass of wine & the view of the Mawwdach Estury.