Three men in a boat - 2nd to 5th July 2019
(Click the photo to see a larger picture in a slide show.)

Thanks to Rob for the notes and photos.

Having just sorted out his Honda 400/4 Howard was keen to give it a test. He and Rob decided that a few days around North Wales would be a good trip. The White Lion Royal Hotel at Bala was chosen, as Bala offered the possibility of good rides in the area. Mike Shackell heard about it and he was keen to come too.

So on Tuesday 2nd July Howard and Mike left Caerphilly and picked up Rob on the way north. The route was A470 to Rhayader, for lunch, then the B4518 from Llanidloes. This quiet and hilly road is one we have used on a Dragon Tour and is well suited to motorcycling. We saw very little traffic.  Re-joining the A470 we continued on to the outskirts of Dolgellau, where the A494 took us on to Bala. As our only stop was for lunch we were glad to park up and book in. The ride although some 130 miles was enjoyable as the sweeping bends made for good riding and the views were certainly lovely. After booking in we had a stroll around Bala main street and down to  Llyn Tegid before returning to the hotel for a few beers, food and a discussion of where to go on Wednesday.

On the Wednesday we decided on a ride to Llanberis to get the train up Snowdon. Leaving Bala we took a back road through a narrow valley, with lovely views, which then joined the main A5. Even this road wasn't too busy and at Capel Curig we turned off on to the road leading to Nant Perris and Snowdon. We passed the farm and lakes which were the Dragon Rally site where I camped with Brian Gray and Bruce and Diane back in 1994. (It was a lot warmer today than it was back in that February.) Dropping down past Pannar Pass we soon pulled up outside the Snowdon Mountain Railway station. We then hit problems. The first was no where to park unless we forked out 4 each. Spotting a side street we nipped up it but had no luck - double yellow lines and resident only parking. Just as we were discussing our options a lady and her husband kindly offered to let us park on their drive. It turned out they had an Austin 7 and a pre-war bike. We had a look at these before heading to the station and problem number 2. No room on the train.... fully booked! Howard and Mike decided to take a stroll up the foothills of Snowdon but I, since there were no Sherpas around and it was boiling hot in biking clothes, decided to go and find a cafe and have a cuppa instead. About 40 minutes later Hillary and Tensing (Howard and Mike) joined me. They said they had made the summit but I wasn't too sure.

We fired up the Hondas, said thanks to the husband and wife and rode off on a circular tour towards Caernarfon and on to Porthmadog. Here we had our lunch in a shady square overlooking the harbour to the echo of seagulls and the odd steam train whistle. Walking to the station at the end of the Cob we were able to see a Welsh Highland Railway train leave for Caernarfon headed by a Garratt and later a Ffestiniog train leaving in the opposite direction being pulled by a Double Fairlie. Howard got chatting to its driver who turned out to be living in Caerphilly.

Leaving Porthmadog we crossed the Cob and then turned inland towards Trawsfynydd passing the man made lake on our right and the big square buildings of the old nuclear power station. From here the A4212 took us on a winding route towards Capel Celyn and the still waters of Tryweryn, the valley and community which was drowned to provide water for Liverpool. Another sunny day ended with some good miles covered on very suitable motorcycle friendly roads and food back at the hotel.

We decided that on Thursday we would head to Llangollen then on to Llandudno and the Great Orme. It was only a short hop to Llangollen and we decided to visit the Motor Museum. It is owned and run by the son of the original owner and was very interesting and well worth the 5 entry fee especially when they looked after our bikes, helmets and jackets while we walked along the canal to town. The weather was still sunny and very hot. The International Music Festival was on and the place was full. We could hear some of the choirs singing as we walked along. We decided, after lunch, to take a trip on the canal, which is where the boat comes into our story. Our jaunt was by bus out of town with the return trip being by canal barge across the Pontcysyllte aqueduct and back along the canal. A much more leisurely journey at 4 mph than on the bikes. The view from the aqueduct is spectacular especially as there is no railing on the one side as you look straight down onto the River Dee below. This put paid to our planned ride to Llandudno so we headed home stopping at Corwen to photograph the statue of Owain Glyndwr.

Friday was our day to return south and so we decided to take the coast road with some detours. Loaded up, after breakfast, we set off and not far from Bala hit roads which had recently been tarmacked with chippings. Not a good start with speeds down below 20mph. Our route took us to Dolgellau and the A493 around the coast (a B road to Tonfannau) toTowyn for a tea stop. The sun was still shining and the sea was bright blue. We could see Barmouth and the Llyn Peninsular and Bardsey Island to the north. Aberdovey was passed on the way to Machynllech (another memory of Dragon Tours) and on to Ynys Las and North before lunch on the prom at Aberystwyth. Heading south with the shining sea to our right we called into the pretty harbour at Aberaeron for a comfort break and ice cream. From here it was inland to Lampeter, a final petrol stop and cuppa at Llandovery before the Brecon Beacons and home. The trip was about 500 miles in 4 days with the longest journey being some 180 miles on the Friday. We filled up some 6 times after covering about 100 miles each time. The weather was glorious, as was the scenery. The hotel was comfortable. The roads were lovely to ride. All three Hondas ran well and the riders were tired but had thoroughly enjoyed themselves.