Monday, 10 March 2008

#014 Touring in Wales

Early in 1941 just before Gordon Roose and Bill Barrowclif where called up , we decided to go to Wales for a week long tour. The other pal being Norman “Bloss” Catchpole and of course myself. We set off early one Saturday morning going via Aston, Weston, Willington and so on to the main road to Uttoxeter, Stone, Audlem, Whitchurch where we took a wrong turn - the lack of any signposts did not help - , we missed the turn off to Overton on Dee and so ended up at Wrexham. A kind man put us on the road to Rhuabon and on arriving there we went over the railway bridge towards the Monsanto works and so past the canal to Llangollen where we had lunch after a 90 mile non-stop ride. We left Llangollen travelling via Corwen, Betts-y-Coed where we had tea then on to Capel Curig turning left there to go over the Llanberris pass.

We had a smashing run down Llanberris Pass, on to Caernarfon where we stayed in small cottage near the famous castle. We had our evening meal then a walk round the castle where we had fun on the ramparts. On walking up to the town square Norman who wore “pebble” type glasses said “look at that man standing on top of that bus”. We glanced up and sure enough it did appear so, the reason being that the bus was parked at the side of a statue of Lloyd George. The next day we went on towards Harlech going via a load of slate mines near to Blaeno Ffestinioig ( I was to visit these underground mines years later when I took two French pals of mine who were working with me at Barratts, Plas Talgarth in 1990.) We of course toured the castle at Harlech it was free then. After that visit we went on to Talybont beach where Norman had been camping with the Sandiacre scout group the previous year, we didn’t like it so we went on to Barmouth where we stayed the night. Barmouth then was like an army camp with men drilling on the esplanade. The cinema was open (it was a converted Church) so we went there. We had a large breakfast the next morning, cheked over the bikes and so on to Dolgellau where we booked in at Aber Café (still there 1999). We had a midday meal, then decided to go to Aberystwyth we climbed out towards Cross Foxes then down the beautiful Tal-y-llyn pass leaving the lake on the right. Passing thro Corris we had a look at the narrow gauge railway which took the quarried slate down to Machynlleth station (now closed). Eventually we arrived at Aberystwyth going down the steep hill then turning right on to the sea front, we rode to the end of the promenade towards the cliff railway. This is a deadend, we had a quick discussion deciding we didn’t like the place and promptly returned to Dolgellau.

After a large meal (we almost ate the café’s whole stock of food) we retired to bed. Up early next morning we left Dolgellau then up the winding hilly road to Cross Foxes turning left towards Dinas Mawddwy to Welshpool. We went through Bangor-on-Dee missing the road to Whitchurch completely, got hopelessly lost finishing up miles off course at Wem where we were able to pick up the road to Whitchurch then on to our regular stopping place - the fish & chip shop at Stone. (I was to visit this chip shop with my young son Alan in 1985, it was run by Pakistanis, they where quite interested in the history). Fed, watered and rejuvinated, we continued the journey home and so ended a terrific tour, we all spent less than £4 for the whole week.

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