36 miles, 4,530 feet of climbing
Accommodation: White Lion Hotel, Machynlleth, Powys
This morning we load up on extra toast from breakfast, spreading it with a healthy dollop of jam and squirrelling it away under the table ready for lunch later. There is no shop nearby – not being too enamoured with the prospect of just cold toast for lunch, once underway we even stop at a farm to see if they can sell us some food, but to no avail. We decide to take a detour in to Dolgellau to find a shop. When we arrive I’m transfixed by the fantastic range of food available in what is a fairly sizeable supermarket called Eurospar. Paul, ever the thrift-king, spends a while seeking out pasties and suchlike that are reduced to rockbottom prices due to reaching, or passing, their sell by date. Now fully stocked for lunch we set off into a dry but overcast day, only to find that Paul’s suspension bushings are creaking. On inspection there is play in the suspension which shouldn’t be there and could, if not addressed, lead to the bike becoming unrideable. Before we left for the trip he’d serviced the entire bike but had thought he had plenty of life left in the bushings. We ring the bike shops in the vicinity but none can help … so we decide to push on and keep an eye on the misbehaving bushings.
After making our way along the Affon Mawddach estuary we climb sharply on tarmac to the lower slopes of one of Wales’ highest peaks, Cadair Idris. Heading west, we’re treated to great views as we traverse above the estuary with the hulking grey buttressed ridge of the Cadair Idris massif to our left. Climbing steadily we hit gravel, then some nice flowing doubletrack descents and the occasional bit of singletrack too. After a small navigation error we retrack slightly, passing a ruined house festooned with ivy. Up ahead a lamb follows us through a gate, appearing from nowhere and it takes us quite a time to chase it back through the gate to be reunited with a bleating mum. Suffice to say the theme tune to Benny Hill would have been appropriate, for the lamb was literally running rings around us most of the time! In the village of Bryncrug I buy a pint of milk from the shop and it comes in a glass bottle, the likes of which I haven’t seen for years following the demise of milk deliveries in much of the UK. We’re waaay out in rural west Wales and things feel different here, more local, more traditional.