Friday 14th September 2007

wetWoke at 6am and had a quick look out of the window at the prefect morning coming in over the hills. By 7:00 and my second look it was clear that the forecast rain had set in and it looked rather grim as well as being much cooler. This called for breakfast in style and slow time.

By ten the rain had stopped (also as forecast) and we were able to gingerly set forth to Rhayader and our planned trip around the lead mine, the lake Llyn Clywedog and up to Macgynlleth (also as recommended on bestbikingroads.com). This is another great trip and cannot be highly enough recommended!

Lunch was really rather nice sitting outside he cafe with an organic pasty and excellent ginger beer with a proper french onion seller doing a roaring trade to the passers by. Then on via a lovely high(ish) speed twisty road to the famous village of Portmerion in NW Wales where the cult 60's TV show The Prisoner was filmed plus there is a renowned pottery here. My colleague in this trip, Biker Gran, and the ticket seller seemed to hit it off but we finally got in despite this bantenage.

Portmerion is a most curious place, both charming and tourist tat at the same time,  I really was not sure what to make of it but I can quite see it as a film set, probably its best role. These days it's a upmarket hotel (read very expensive, £150+ per night) and once the tourists have gone it would be fantastic having the place all to yourself. It's less clear how good it would be during the day.

So what do they do in a lead mine then?Luckily we had the foresight to book into the Royal Ship Hotel at Dolgellau on the way to Portmerion, so were able to have a quiet trip back around the coast without concern as to where we might stay for the night. The road starts with a must not miss single lane toll bridge (30p) which combines with the rail bridge to get across the estuary. The road was pretty slow and quite busy but again very scenic
 but the trailer parks and tourist dumps were a little hard to accept although the beach looked fantastic.

The hotel was a little on the expensive side but really rather nice, in fact the entire town of Dolgellau is rather fetching and could use a but more exploration. Dinner at the Y Sospan tearooms opposite the hotel was excellent with a bottle of local Anglesea shiraz (it turned out to be Australian, what would you expect?). We had time to head back to the hotel to see the Springboks decimate England in the world cup rugby and then return to the Y Sospan for desert, us that is not the Springboks.

Sadly it'll be back to the overcrowded South East tomorrow and proper cellphone coverage. We estimate around 5 hours plus the treat of the motorway around Birmingham. Clearly Wales at this time of year would repay quite a bit more time and exploration. Perhaps next year.

Portmerion