Monday, 27 May 2013

Taking advantage of the sunshine.

The Bank Holiday weekend was forecast to be changeable with some sun over the weekend before the chilly days returned. Indeed, as I write this, the wind and rain has returned. How glad we are that we abandoned plans to 'do jobs' on Saturday and escaped to the sunny mountains of North Wales.

With the A-Z map of Wales on my lap I plotted our course.
'Where do you want to go?' asked my hubby as he sat at my side, peaked cap protecting him from the glare of the fierce sunshine, the top of the car down and the engine revving ready for take-off.
'What about Llyn Brenig - going over the top of the Denbigh Moors?' Or, I soon changed tack, 'What about going over the mountains to Llandegla, across the A5, then through Cynwyd, Llandrillo and on to Bala Lake? We could then go through the mountains towards Welshpool. You know, the road we went on when the group of Gold Wing bikers from Germany came a few years ago?
'Okay. You are not going to sleep? You will be awake to tell me where to turn? 

You bet! Sat Nav was tucked away and I could happily stick pins into the map.
Heading out of Wrexham on the A541 towards Mold, we turned at Pontblyddyn on the Corwen Road. The sun cast its fingers of light and warmth over the valley as we rode higher and higher towards Llandegla and the Cyrn-y-Brain mountain. At Llandegla we headed straight-on (a left turn would take us to the Horseshoe Pass above Llangollen which would no doubt be busy with bikers at the Ponderosa Cafe).

Through the beautiful, isolated village of Bryneglwys, the Llansysilio Mountain rose on our left. Meeting the A494 Ruthin Road we soon came to the A5. A quick left and sharp right put us onto the B4401 - a yellow road -  where we headed towards Llandrillo and Llandderfel. I reminisced that the first time I came up here, it was winter. I was on my way to meet a new learner for a work-based learning qualification. I actually went too far before turning round and finding my destination on the edge of the mountain - an old converted farm! I really had no idea of where I was going as I drove through the forest.

We also remembered the last time we had been this way. We were on our way to a meeting in Betws-y-Coed. The heavy rains had caused floods; the Corwen A5 road was closed. We detoured onto this road but eventually, due to more detours, found ourselves on the edge of Bala with the lake washing over the bridge. It was scary seeing sheep trapped on lower ground and whole fields submerged.

Today though, the sun was shining with little cloud in the blue sky. At Pale we ignored the sign for Llandderfel and went straight on, taking the sharp right turn to the to the B4391
which brought us over the bridge of the Bala Lake overflow and start of the River Dee; that mighty river which wends its way through spectacular countryside, through Llangollen, negotiating many twists and turns before it releases into the sea beyond 
The water was calm today as we reached Lake Bala or Llyn Tegid in Welsh. In the car park, a school bus and trailer was waiting for adventurous pupils to return from their canoeing on the lake. We were also on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park at its southern part.
Strolling through the town - which was not really busy for the time of the year - had everyone embarked on a sun-seeking exercise? - we settled for a snack lunch at the White Lion Royal Hotel on the High Street.
Well, we thought it was a snack lunch but what a snack lunch! A melt in the mouth warm baguette held the most tender bacon you could imagine, enhanced with warm brie cheese. The usual side salad was accompanied by a HUGE portion of chips! I am sure that everything was locally produced and was fresh.

Replete, we made our way back to where the car was parked and plotted the next move.
Retracing our steps we headed back on the B4391 but kept straight on at Pen-y-bont-fawr for Oswestry and Welshpool rather than detour to Lake Vyrnwy. We soon found that we were riding on the side of a mountain (Berwyn Mountains) with a deep valley stretching as far as the eye could see.
It was a timeless scene. never changing apart from the seasons - but that of course means that it changes month-by-month, week-by-week, and even day-by day.
Through forests, villages and valleys, we came to Pen-y-bont-fawr where  I commented that, 'over the mountain on our left is Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant and the waterfall'.
'Well. we are not going there today,' was the reply.
It is a very narrow road once leaving the village you see. At Llanrhaeadr, we took the sign for Oswestry which brought us onto an unfamiliar road (we know Oswestry very well) and eventually to the main A5 and home.

The contrasts from a few weeks ago was amazing. Most of the trees had their new Spring clothes on; the hedgerows were full of wild flowers; the lush, green fields were home to grazing sheep and little lambs, the valleys were bathed in sunshine and shadows. Above all, the birds were tweeting and twittering as, in the late Spring sunshine, they sang their hearts out in joy .

A timeless scene and one not to be missed at anytime.
But one really best experienced on a motorbike - a Gold Wing for preference and comfort!