Path: Home | North wales re-cycled

North wales re-cycled 1980's

This was very kindly sent to me by Ron Richmond after a conversation I had with him at the Dinner last year (Nov 2011). Many Thanks Ron SR.

This five day cycling holiday to re-live some of our old climbing days came about after a heavy drinking session in the Roscoe Head during one of the geriatric Wednesday meetings. This mad urge, which had been festering for some time was finally launched when common sense had become clouded by the nostalgia of our youth. So it came about on Wednesday 12th May, five fearless and somewhat matured cyclists caught the 10:10 Hooton express at Lime street. In age related order there was Ron Richmond, Dave Blakeney, Joe Pilkington, Bernie James and Jimmy Mcknight. As we headed for the hills with a slightly favourable wind and a sprinkling of sunshine, little did we know that this would best of the weather for the next few days. We eased over the Ewloe, became ragged up the Rainbow and certainly not bunched on the bwlch. After a light lunch in Ruthin, still in party mood we tackled the Nant-Y-Garth. We split ranks but re-united eventually and held a sweaty impromptu map reading exercise at the Corwen/Llangollen island which became a wee bit heated. The outcome was to proceed on the more scenic route to Llangollen. We headed towards Corwen then after three miles swung left into some mighty scenic Welsh hills which two hours later spilled us out on the outskirts of Llangollen and we reached our digs at about 6.30pm.

This was to be our base for two nights and our hostess a Mrs Joyce Pugh did us proud during our stay. On this our first evening we visited a few pubs from the past but came unstuck with our choice of restaurant. The food took so long to arrive we thought it had been brought over from the Tudor Room on Prescot Road.

Day two dawned a little overcast. During our massive no holds barred breakfast Joyce asked if we’d mind filling in a Police registration form. Apparently this was required by all hotels to provide the police with information about guests i.e. Name, Age, Address, Occupation and the Reason for our visit. This was probably a precaution due to the imminent Tory Party conference. It was suggested we should use nom-de-plume occupations to see if we could assess the capabilities of the local Bobbies. Our names were to be as follows:

  1. Blaster McKnight, Semtex professor
  2. Dave Blakeney, small arms technician
  3. Paddy Pilkington, Plastic development officer
  4. Barney James, Libyan import manager
Needless to say we didn’t attempt this but it gave us a fair amount of laughs.

After breakfast we kitted up and headed for Oswestry but were soon a man down because Blaster McNight had to head home for family reasons. The farewell took longer than expected as Bernie the Bank dropped most of the kitty in his haste to give Jimmy some money back. It took about twenty minutes to comb the long grass for the missing cash and jimmy didn’t want a refund anyway. After coffee in Oswestry and a brief moment to mentally prepare for the forthcoming attack of the Millter Cerrigs we looked forward to arriving at Llanrhaeadr for our lunch. This was a light affair, a quick pint and a mere sandwich our minds consumed with the impending mighty Millter. So with dark clouds gathering and the weather looking bleak we started to climb. Ron wasn’t happy with his gear response and leaped off to make adjustments. He borrowed my dual purpose spanner and without going into too much detail made the required modifications. To cut a long story short we all reached the top in reasonable time. We relieved ourselves of excess nutrients carefully factoring in the direction of the prevailing wind, put on an extra skin and descended with gay abandon (Happily!) taking the back road which emerges near Corwen. We even had time for afternoon tea at a most delightful B&B at Cynwyd and the Hostess here was Mrs Sarah Stille. Again she was a charming individual, particularly well-travelled and amongst other pursuits had done a fair amount of cycling. The conversation was indeed interesting and enjoyable. We managed to drag ourselves away as the rain started. Like scattered saucers thankfully the rain didn’t live up to the threatening black clouds, rumbling thunder and distant lightning flashes. However we weren’t hanging around and after a fast moving line out we managed to reach our digs unharmed.

That evening we had a fantastic meal in the pub with plenty of ‘Burtons Special’ and the entertaining‘Jazz band Festival‘ topped off what was a brilliant night. It was only slightly marred by the monsoon we encountered whilst walking back to Mrs Pugh’s. Tomorrow we would be leaving for Betws-Y-Coed which presented us with the problem of how to dry our evening attire prior to our departure. We packed our slightly damp cloths from the previous night and said our goodbyes to Joyce who kissed us farewell and wished us bon voyage. We certainly enjoyed her hospitality and with pleasant blue skies our spirits were high. Our first challenge of the day was the Horse Shoe pass and after a vast amount of gear and clothing adjustments we made our ascent. We regrouped at the very same island we encountered two days previously when we had our map reading exercise and due to darkening skies and a congregation of hostile clouds we bashed on towards Corwen and beyond.

We stopped for a most satisfying coffee and toast as the sky let forth with the rain that was promised. We stayed long enough to recover our resolve for further hill battles and continued as the rain went off. We turned off for Bala which according to the sign was a mere nine miles. In all fairness the sign should have indicated that eight of these would be of an uphill nature. Also climate conditions decreed that in addition to the gradient the wind would also further impede progress. We all eventually crawled into Bala and despite the atmosphere of the local market we found a suitable pub/restaurant to replenish our tired legs. We had an excellent meal and with our minds firmly fixed on the final assault up ahead we set a course around lake Celyn.

It was still raining but there was a glimmer of sun, as we pressed on towards the incline we were hoping it would stay fine. Unfortunately once we turned towards Ffestiniog we got the lot, wind, rain, plummeting temperature and of course a massive amount of road going up. After what seemed like hours of torture Bernie and I reached the battered shack that served tea amongst other things. This location also heralds the turn to Betws-Y-Coed. The weather was so cold that when we open the café door half a dozen frozen cats rushed in. The owner had to give one the kiss of life but that was after I gave it the Liverpool boot! When Dave crawled in on his hands and knees we nearly had to do the same for him. After a few coffees to warm us up the café owner told us of a shorter route and with new resolve we departed. The rain had stopped and the wind was now aiding our progress. The views of the valley below were breath taking and eventually we spilled out onto the main road amidst some very heavy traffic. We crawled into Betwsy-Y-Coed and located the Cross Keys Hotel which was to be our base for the next two nights. The first of these was mainly spent thawing out by the fire in the pub.

The next morning over breakfast we revised our plans for the day. The previous night we had all agreed 4 votes to nill to ‘Stuff the bloody mountains’. Instead we cycled up the Conway valley in mainly pleasant weather and after lunch in Conway we returned by way of the road that follows the river.

That evening we had a few beers before congregating in Dave and Bernie’s room to watch the cup final with a few sarnies. We had survived, perhaps our climbing day's aren't behind us after all.