"Sure that's only a short ferry trip away from us here in Ireland. Will we give it a lash some weekend?"
That's how the conversation with a few pals went over a couple of pints one evening. And then the planning began. We knew it rained in Wales. We were fairly sure it was going to rain in Wales when we decided to hop over there on a ferry in the middle of October. What we didn't know was that of the 72 hours we were IN Wales, that it would rain for 71 of those hours.
Off the four of us set on a ferry from Dublin port to Holyhead, bikes firmly on board in a van belonging to one of the guys. A four hour journey aboard the Stena ferry was to be followed by a short one hour drive to our wee Air B 'n' B for a 3 day adventure. When we came into view of Wales, there was a rainbow shining down on the peninsula that we could see. It was magical.
It was also raining. But we were sure the bad weather would pass and we would be all set for a massive adventure the next day which had been planned within an inch of its life. Few pints and a bit of dinner that night set us up nicely for the big day. When we pulled the curtains the next morning, it was raining. But full of good spirts we jumped into the van, drove to the start point of the adventure which was to bring us to a location called Stwlan Dam in an area called Ffestiniog. It was pretty much the reason for coming to this part of Wales.
Stwlan Dam is 3.3km long with an average gradient of 9.4%. It promised us lots of lovely switchbacks. But we never got to see them that day. The rain was so heavy that parts of the roads were washing away as we ploughed our way along, crying behind our sunglasses, we eventually found shelter in a lakeside cafe to try and dry off for a bit. The kind owners rang a local taxi company who agreed to collect two of us from a local pub and bring us back to the van so we could return and collect our two pals and the four bikes. £80 taxi fare (and a lot of slagging from the Welsh taxi man who kept saying that we were a mad bunch of Irish potatos!) and quite a few hours later, we were all reunited. And in a huff. And it was still raining. A quiet dinner was had and we contemplated what to do the following day. We would let the weather decide.
Saturday morning. We cautiously drew back the curtains. It was raining. Still. But undeterred, we jumped in the van and this time, we were driving straight to the base of Stwlan Dam and prayed to the rain gods to give us even an hour or two of dry weather. And they listened to us. It was like some sort of cycling miracle! We parked up and the rain just stopped (and when I say stopped, I mean it was now just drizzle mizzle and not full on whopper rain drops). We jumped on our bikes and headed for the damn dam. Up up up we went to the very top and were treated to magnificent views across Snowdonia. For that one special hour, everything was lovely. We were happy.
Mission somewhat accomplished and we treated ourselves to a delicious lunch and headed back to the Air B 'n' B. That night, as we slurped down a few tasty pints of Double Dragon and tucked into some fine Welsh cuisine, we agreed that it had been one of the nicest trips in a long time.....even with the rain. And the mad Welsh taxi man!
I've heard a rumour that sometimes it doesn't rain in Wales so we may go back for a repeat visit......maybe. If you fancy reading a bit more about Stwlan Dam, have a read here about one mans Everesting adventure there (we'll talk about Everesting on this blog sometime soon......)
Dyna i gyd am y tro ffrindiau!