Easter Tour 1926 Part Four

Part Four:   Mynydd Hiraethog

The joys of touring !  One razor that could have been sharper for three of us, with cold water, so that it felt, during the process of shaving, like a chicken would feel being plucked alive; an attic so low at the walls that, as you sleepily rose in bed you got a nasty whack on the head that drove all thoughts of sleep away and brought forth a torrent of lurid oaths.  At least that would have happened had I not noticed that the rest, with such suspiciously innocent faces, sat waiting for me to get up.  I disappointed them.  Before breakfast I walked down to where the ever vivacious Llugwy was dashing itself over the rocks below Pont Cyfyng.  The rock about Cyfyng Falls, has been worn remarkably deep and smooth in curves and crevices by the action of countless million gallons of water over a period of thousands and thousands of years.  Stood musing on this and other facts and marvelling over it all, I lost all thoughts of time until Joe, in a voice that is no longer sweet and low, announced that breakfast was ready, and I abandoned my ponderings in favour of more urgent demands.  Our breakfasts were at 8.30 – what the others called early;  I often kicked up a row over it, for 7.30 is late enough, because I think that for touring, there is nothing like an early start.  It is the same at night, for whilst many like to finish soon after tea, I’d rather ride until the very last minute, say 10 to 10.30 pm.  Of course, one has to ‘touch wood’ to get digs at that hour – and that is where the fun comes in !  At long last, after the usual delays, we bade Mrs Jones and all the little Jones’s good-day, and kicked off.

Moel Siabod had lost its wraith during the night and now stood out as clear as a bell, in a perfect sky.  Bettws-y-Coed was quiet – the morning motor trek was not astir yet, and we had the Holyhead Road pretty much to ourselves.  We broke the long grind up Dinas Hill with a journey to Conway Falls, said journey costing us two pence each.  Joe thought that they should pay us for descending all the steps, then ascending them back.  The falls were but a shadow of what we (Tom and I) witnessed at New Year, being so much shrunken that I was able to scramble round the base of the ‘sump’, where the water whirls round in flood time with terrific fury, and look up the chasm from where the falls commence.  In this gorge was a series of steps, each of which formed a little fall, though in flood time the whole would be one racing torrent.  The pretty wood-lands of Dinas Hill petered out as we reached the summit, and in company with the now youthful Conway, reached Pentrefoelas, with our tongues cleaving to our mouths.  This was remedied for the nonce at an obliging tap.  Here we abandoned the Holyhead Road and joined the Denbigh Road, a high byway that I knew would amply repay the ‘collar-work’ we should be called upon to do.  As expected, the start was not exactly alluring, extremely rough and rutty, but as it was mostly walking the roughness counted for little.

Gradually we climbed onto the open moors, the expansive Mynydd Hiraethog, into the full heat of the sun, which brought the skin off my arms, whilst westwards, the Shire-Carnarvon peaks hove into view.  A lake on our left, cupped in the brown moors was surprisingly blue.  I have never before – or since – seen water show such a deep beautiful hue.  Meanwhile our search for a stream to drink, started on Dinas Hill, was fruitless – I don’t know how they go on in the tropics, it was bad enough here.  The mountains had gradually appeared until, now, supremely set behind a rolling expanse of heather and moss, the magnificent barriers of rock stood against the faultless sky.  From the long grey ridges of the Carneddau, over the sheer, triple-headed Trifan, the ragged Glyder group to the magnificent mass culminating in the graceful peak of Eryri, our eyes wandered, down past the clear sweep of Siabod to the guardians of the gorgeous Vale of Dwyryd and the misty peaks of Ardudwy, a long saw edge of splendid mountains.  They hold a magnetic attraction someway, these Cambrian giants, they always seem to beckon me to go among them, and when we have been we are not satisfied – we want to go again !  The following verse from Byron explains, perhaps, why Wales so persistently calls to us, though elsewhere will be found the reason why only Wales seems to satisfy me.

He who first met the highland’s swelling blue

Will love each peak that shows a kindred hue

Hails in every crag a friend’s familiar face,

And clasp the mountains in his mind’s embrace.


From the summit, where stands the little Sportsman’s Arms, at an altitude of 1523 feet, we had a breathless succession of downhill sweeps on a superb surface, the while the western peaks one by one dropped out of sight, and the Clwydian earth-clods lined themselves across the eastern sky, and the rolling, swelling half-greenery unfurled itself before our eyes; the high, brown Hiraethog Mountains from the roof of which we had just descended, rolling away to the ultimate humps and blunt ridges behind us.  We flew through Bylchau, down the woods of Groes, blinded along pastoral foothills until we came in sight of the ruin-clad hill of Denbigh Castle, very soon finding ourselves in the ancient capital of Clwyd.  We got the lunch of our hearts at a café over a grocer’s shop – no fear of a food shortage here !

Easter Tour 1926 Part 3006         Some slight difficulty was experienced in getting out of Denbigh, our wanderings leading us to what we took for a museum of antiquated vehicles or an ancient cab-house, though afterwards we ascertained that it was the fire station !

We had 16 miles to cover to Mold, and by the way we started blinding we bade fair to set up a new record.  Crossing the Vale of Clwyd, I was struck by the very green-ness of everything, perhaps more noticeable after the brown moors of Hiraethog.  This road would be passing pretty if it was a bit hillier and less motorised, for the long, level stretches palled on us, and the Bank Holiday traffic was showing itself.  So, though passing between hills, we blinded hotly right through Mold, where well known roads hurried us on for another six miles to Pen-y-Mynydd, where a grassy bank proved a temptation irresistible.  Whilst sprawling here two pretty girls passed with a dog, and Billy, ever ready to seize on a joke, made humorous assertions relative to it.  Like true flappers, answers were forthcoming, and a dialogue ensued that set everyone rocking with merriment.  All the way to Chester it was the same, one continual round of jokes.  At length Chester was reached and our circuit was completed, Chester to Chester, without covering the same roads twice at any point except, perhaps, the two miles, Dinas Mawddwy-Mallwyd, and the Capel-Ogwen detour.  We had tea at Frodsham, where we implored Mrs Littler to lay us the first square meal of the tour, just to get her to make a bust-up, and a bust-up it was, a worthy last meal for a tour like this was.

In the last glow of a perfect evening we pottered down to Warrington in company with the hosts of youthful, would-be, cyclists who, having survived Good Friday’s day out, were essaying the second ride of their lives, and were feeling the effects to judge from looks both fore and aft.  We were all bronzed and merry, drawing more than a bit of attention from passers-by.  Tom left us at the canal bridge, to make his way home via Lymm and Altrincham, and we four, with a Bolton CTC-ite we had picked up passed through the notorious bottle-neck to Winwick and Lowton, where Billy and Fred struck off to Hindley whilst we endured the Leigh ‘setts’, arriving home at 10pm, and thus spending the holiday almost to the last minute.

And now, as always after touring, comes the reckoning; the weighing of disadvantages against advantage, the cost, and the final question: is it worth it ?  To weigh advantage and disadvantage is to weigh a sack of potatoes against a feather, whilst as for the cost, to me it amounted to just about 80 shillings, that is seven and sixpence a day including all expenses.  I defy anyone to cover the ground we did, see what we saw, enjoy life as we did and feel so well as we did other than by cycle at so low a cost.  To ask:  “Is it worth it?” is merely superfluous, we never were in doubt of it before we started, and it only served to strengthen the view that for holidays, cycle touring is the only way.

The seven Passes still linger in my mind as I write, over 7 months later, Nant-y-Ffrith, sylvan and quiet, Bwlch-y-Groes, high and wild, the views and scars of Bwlch Oerdrws, the glittering crags of Tal-y-Llyn Pass, the deep blackness of Aberglaslyn by night, the immensity of all things in the Pass of Llanberis, and the evening romance of Nant Ffrancon.  The weather was glorious, but altered itself strangely to give us the best effects of dull, hot, cold, mists, thunder and lightening, rain and brilliant sunshine, always just where it could be best appreciated.  One disadvantage we did find, and that always must be faced, the thought of coming home again to the same old streets and the same old round, but with the memories of a holiday well spent and the thoughts of future holidays in the spirit of that wonderful Easter of 1926.

A rather insignificant point is the mileage, which was: Good Friday, 106, Saturday 58, Sunday 48, and the final day, 96, a total of 308 miles.                  12 November 1926.


Easter Tour 1926 Part Three

Part Three:   Around Snowden

The verse came upon me as I looked through the bedroom window, at Beddgelert and the mist-wreathed heights above, the heights whereon Ailwyn had wandered in search of his lost love, where he had heard her playing the harp so sweetly under the crags of the Knocker’s Llyn.  I would advise anyone to read Ailwyn if they love a good, classic novel which is woven round, and set upon, the stage of reality.  I was first down, and had the pleasure of meeting one Mary, who for beauty compares with Jennie of Ffestiniog.  When I went up and told Billy and Joe about her, they were up like a shot !  It was here that we heard a true animal story that is worth recounting from the lady of the house (‘Florence Nightingale’).  It started through an enquiry of mine about a poem framed on the bedroom wall, in Welsh, and in which the words ‘Beddgelert’ and ‘Eryri’ aroused my curiosity.

Many years ago, when she was a child, she had a brother who tended sheep on the slopes of Snowdon.  He possessed two dogs named Cymru and Prince, who were always with him.  It was his custom to call at the farm for his meals and come home to Beddgelert at night.  One day, when snow lay thick on the mountains, he did not appear for dinner at the farm, and at teatime he was absent too, but only when he did not come home at night did his people become anxious, and a search party was sent out.  After a night of vain searching the party returned, and were just about to turn out again, when Cymru, the dog, came bounding in and started to paw at them and run towards the door.  They let the dog have the lead, and he took them over the foothill onto the screes on Snowdon, where they found the boy below a crag, with Prince, the other dog standing sentinel over him.  He had slipped over the cliff in the snow, and was killed, and while one dog had gone to find aid, the other had stayed to guard his body.  The boy was buried in the little churchyard at Beddgelert, and often the two dogs could be seen sat solemnly over his grave.

Outside a thick low mist hung over the mountains almost hiding them altogether, and our hopes of climbing Snowdon began to fade.  I was quite willing, if only for the sake of the climb, but Joe and Tom saw nothing in it, as only the views made it worth while in their mind.  So we rearranged our plans, settling on the Carnarvon road as one that none of us had hitherto traversed.

Easter Tour 1926 Part 3004


We ate over two loaves, generous loaves too, at breakfast, no remarkable thing when you consider that there were five of us, and five healthy cyclists can eat quite a lot between them.  Owing to the position of the County border, we had supper in Shire Carnarvon, slept in Merioneth, and breakfasted in Carnarvon again.  Dozens of people were about in the village, cyclists starting out, and two motorloads of merry cragsmen armed with ropes and rucksacks were just leaving as we turned out.  The mists did not trouble them !

We found the first three miles a heavy drag through open country that would be rather dismal had it not been for the almost weird effects of the mists, which came to the road almost and seemed quite plastic, breaking and closing in solid palls, revealing sheer mountainsides and towering peaks, only to shut them in again almost immediately.  Very probably in clear weather this road will give some wonderful mountain views.  At Pitts Head (named after a rock that is said to show a good profile of the former statesman), the road started to descend and we speedily came to Rhyd-Ddu, where is the Snowdon Ranger Inn, an uncomfortable looking place at the foot of Snowdon.  George Borrow mentions, in his ‘Wild Wales’, a chat with the innkeeper, who was a guide for Snowdon, and who called himself and his house ‘Snowdon Ranger’.  In those days a guide was a necessity, for to the stranger Snowdon was a terrible and arduous climb fraught with dangers, for mountaineering had not found its way into the hearts of the people, and nobody seemed to care for the mountains.  Rhyd-Ddu, a simple sounding name, is the usual stumbling block to the tripper.  One calls it ‘Rid-do’, until a Welshman comes along and makes it unrecognisable by saying ‘Rhud-thee’ (Black Ford, it means).  A little farther on is Llyn Cwellyn, which every guide book and map spell wrongly, calling it Llyn Quellyn.  There is no ‘q’ in the Welsh alphabet.  Llyn Cwellyn is a large sheet of water set deep in the mountains and over-shadowed by an awe-inspiring crag, Craig Cwm Bychan, tentacle of Mynydd Mawr.  The road runs along the north shore and the crag stands to the southwest.  The mists, hiding the upper portion, made it seem higher than it really is, and imported the same weird air of grandeur as at Beddgelert.

The others went on, leaving me sat on a wall admiring the scene, and it was full 20 minutes before I left.  I came to Nant Mill, a pretty spot and an old flour mill with a water wheel, and then again it went dull, the mists, though not nearly so thick, hiding the hills, and houses lining the road.  At Bettws Garmon an improvement was noticeable, and at the top of the next hill the mist disappeared and away below me stretched the fertile country around Llanwndda, fields and woods and villages and the sea, gleaming beneath the strengthening sunlight.  From Waen Fawr I swooped down into Carnarvon, coming to rest by the castle.  I found the others by the Straits.  We did not go into the castle, though it was open (I had been inside previously), because the fine ruin looks best from the outside, with its massive gateway, walk, and imposing towers.  After a short potter in the vicinity of the river Seiont, the Menai Straits and the castle, and accompanied by the stares of the townsfolk, we joined the Llanberis Road.  The mists had, by now, entirely dispersed, and the sun bade fair to outshine all its previous glory, whilst, ever aware of the call of hunger, our speed became hectic except when a hill got in the way.

Easter Tour 1926 Part 3005


After some miles of rolling country that to me seemed wonderfully fresh and green, we stood on an elevation that brought us in view of the stunning array of mountains from each side of the Llanberis Pass.  There was the Pass, an awesome looking defile over which hung the chaotic confusion of rocks which we call Snowdonia, as clear to behold as earlier it had been misty.  The shining cliffs and boulder-strewn screes, the lofty peaks, all beneath a perfect sky, sent me madly longing to be amongst them, and to climb, climb, climb, until I finally reached the utmost height.  Above all other scenery.

I love a high hill,

With its granite scars:

From Cwm-y-Glo we rode above the long, deep Llyn Padarn, across which the hillsides were ablaze in colour, and came to Llanberis.  As everyone knows, Llanberis is a centre for Snowdon.  The railway starts here for the summit, and also the most popular track.  To the infirm or aged, the rack railway is a godsend, but why, oh why do so many physically fit people go by the railway?  I hate it, it has lowered the prestige of the finest mountain in Wales, and though it has given many a chance of seeing the beauty of high mountains, it has encouraged others to ascend the peak by an inferior route.  Then how many misguided folks climb to the summit on foot from Llanberis and regard it as a mountaineering feat when it is only a long and somewhat dreary walk?  Their energy could be better employed on a more worthy route.  I say to all who intend to ascend Eryri, to take the Capel Curig track, or Sir Watkins from Nant Gwynant, or the Snowdon Ranger route, and to those who are not afraid of a bit of real climbing, try the pathless screes to Cwm Glas and the easier pitches of Crib Goch  It is only off the beaten track that one sees the real grandeur of the mountains, and where ‘Natures heart beats strong amid the hills’.

We stayed not in Llanberis, but at the end of the town, and just as we left the road to go up to the waterfall, we met the Bolton quartet, and the whole nine of us went along together.  The river comes down in a leap of 30 ft or more into a rocky basin, being more of a very steep slide with a curious twist in the middle.  A fair volume of water was coming down owing to last nights rains.  It is named Ceunant Bach (Little Fall), which we did not see.  Our return to the bikes was made in perfect formation, two deep, to the rendering, by a musically inclined member of Mark’s Troupe, of “Toy Drum Major”.  As their direction was directly opposite to ours, we left them on the road, and once more headed for the Pass.  In a little while we saw a ‘Teas’ notice in a garden and a lawn with easy chairs, so yielding to the temptation we ordered lunch and scattered ourselves all over the lawn in the hot sunshine.  A party of Liverpudlians stopped, attracted by the notice, but we told them it was not much of a place, so they hied off.  We could forsee a shortage of food if they joined us.  As at Beddgelert they gave us the loaf to hack as we pleased, so we ordained Tom bread cutter, but after the first loaf he gave it up, as we were eating as fast as he was cutting, leaving him without.  The second loaf was cut by Joe, but he too relinquished the task, and I took it over, cutting a loaf into five slices, giving each a slice.  They charged me with cutting the thickest for myself, so as I had cut it wedge-shaped, I showed them the thin end, and they were satisfied.  After four loaves we were still unappeased, and my turn came to go for more (we took the fearful job in turns).  I got a shock when I was told there was nothing left, and when I informed the others they roared in laughter; Joe was doubled up in real pain, tears streamed down our cheeks, and we became helpless, but when a large cake came in we managed to shift it between our chuckles.  Fancy five of us eating up the stock of a catering house !

Our next move was to the ancient round tower that is all that is left of Dolbadarn Castle, the last home of Welsh Independence.  Situate on a little rocky knoll between Llyn Padarn and Peris, and commanding a view west down the lake to the country beyond and east up the Pass, it gives a true glimpse of Wales both wild and sublime.  Glyder Fawr on the north side of the lakes has been quarried into vast steps, the whole mountain being entirely despoiled.

Once more we were riding, the precipice on each side drawing closer, until just beyond Nant Peris, we were in the Pass proper.  Utter chaos reigns on each side of the road; from the high cliffs above, thousands of boulders have fallen, some breaking into tiny pieces, others perched on all kinds of seeming precarious positions, and others, great masses of rock have caused the road to be built round them.  The heat was merciless, making it easier for us to walk rather than ride even when the gradient was easy.  Near Pont-y-Cromlech a break appears in the line of cliffs on the right, behind which is the ridge of Crib Goch with the Snowdon summit peeping from behind.  I had heard that up there is Cwm Glas, the wildest hollow in Wales, so I suggested a scramble up the screes to the hollow.  So we abandoned the bikes and – well, elsewhere in this book will be found the story of that afternoon in Cwm Glas, and of the wonders unfurled to us. [The Narrow Way that leads to Paradise – Ed]

It was after 5pm when we were all united again, Billy and I climbed Llanberis Pass without stockings on, and the sight of our bare legs provoked every passer-by to merriment.  We did not care: it would have mattered nothing if all the Principality had come to laugh at us.  A treat awaited us at the summit.  All the Capel Curig side was in a choking mist, whilst the Llanberis side was perfectly clear and sunny, then as we descended to Pen-y-Gwryd, the peaks appeared one by one above the mist, sharp and clear at first, then faint and distant looking, an effect that lent them the appearance of being immensely high.  Again the mist covered everything, and then the sun, a faint ring, broke through above the ridge of Lliwedd.  When we reached Pen-y-Gwrd, the valley was flooded with brilliant sunshine, whilst a few yards higher, the mist cloaked everything.  Weird and wonderful is the only way to describe the continuous moving pictures caused by the mists on that switchback down to Capel Curig.  There were the Snowdonian pinnacles jutting from a white sea, here on the left a precipice reared into a snowy blanket, on the right a line of billows cut Moel Siabod in two, yet in front everything was as bright and clear as it ever could be.

We had a great tea at a place we knew at Pont Cyfyng, one mile south of Capel, and arranged to stay the night, so Tom, Billy and I decided to have a sprint as far as Nant Ffrancon, Joe and Fred being too lethargic.

Easter Tour 1926 Part 4009


We turned our wheels back to Capel Curig, continuing along the Holyhead Road.  Over Snowdonia the mists still clung almost, one might say, affectionately, and Siabod still retained its snowy girdle.  Our way now lay into that great glacial hollow between the rough old Glyders and the expansive Carneddau.  Twilight, a beautiful quiet twilight, broken only by the even hum of tyres on the glossy highway, or the steady hiss of the chains over the cogs, had settled on the mountains which lay before us in a frowning range of crags – not frowning, for the crags cannot frown at an hour like this.  This smooth road is excellently graded, so the five mile climb was child’s play, though we blinded it all because we wanted to get amongst the crags ere dark.  Two cyclists who were en route from Manchester to Bangor made interesting company, and, though riding roadsters, in long trousers etc, they had all the makings of “real” cyclists.  When at last we gained the proximity of Llyn Ogwen, it was almost dark.  We rode by the lake, which, at first, brightly streaked with rippling reflections, had now changed to deep gloom.  Left of us, the ragged crags of Trifan rose for over 2000 ft to the three points which loomed unreally overhead.  Ogwen Cottage, the climbers hostel came into view, we stopped, bade the Mancunians goodbye, and dumping the bikes, we joined the rickety track that leads to Cwm Idwal.  Boggy, stony and darksome was the way, so the half mile or so took much longer than in daylight, but at length we found ourselves beside the Lake of Darkness, Llyn Idwal.

Ringed by boulder-strewn screes and over-shadowed by great cliffs, there is an awesome grandeur about this spot that is very fascinating; its fascination and that of the towering crags around has lured many to climb – and many to death.  We sat down on the rocks by the waterside and watched the darkly rippling wavelets, the black, pinnacled mountains, and the sky, a deep velvet  pricked with a million points of light.  Oh, inspiration, impulse!; that urge to go forth and do something great, the thoughts that arise from the mind, when the urge of the mountains are upon one !  None of us spoke, yet we all spoke, in thought, but which we all understood and heard.  It was the tone by which the note of genius is struck, and finding us barren of the quality, it implanted itself upon our minds as an engraver in metal stamps his subject.  The Romance of it all, too !  The Romance of Idwal, and the tragedy that for ever darkened the waters of the Llyn, the romance of that terrible chasm in the cliffs ahead, where many men have climbed their last, and the romance of the Cymric battle for independence.  The very cliffs and boulders breathe it !

It was a long time before we tore ourselves away, and, still in deep reverie, stumbled up a low mound from where we looked down the Nant Ffrancon Pass, where the last bright streak of day was merging into night over Anglesey.  The great gap with its still silvery thread of a river, a vivid contrast to the blackness of the hollow, and the two pinpoints of light from a motorcar slowly ascending towards Ogwen, still live vividly in my mind.  Our way back to Ogwen Cottage was something of an adventure over bog and boulders in Stygian gloom, and when we regained the road we walked to Ogwen Bridge to listen to the water as it escaped from the lake and leaped down the crags ere it wandered down the ‘Vale of Beavers’ to the sea.  Then we remounted our bikes and slowly pottered back between hoary Trifan and the overshadowed depths of Llyn Ogwen, until the lake and the Pass and those wonderful old mountains were behind and the open moors in front, the darkness being broken here and there by the light of some farmhouse set below the mountains.  Ugh! It grew suddenly cold, icily cold, then we entered a clammy mist.  We had to feel our way slowly down to Capel Curig, the while a chilly breeze blew right through us.  At Capel the mist miraculously disappeared, and a backward glance revealed the white curtain hanging over a strip of country – we had passed through it.  Snowdonia was still as we had left it, and Siabod’s girdle had not moved at all; how tenacious it was !

Easter Tour 1926 Part 4010


Our first thought when we reached Bryn Afon (our place for the night) was to be against the fire; then supper.  Once again we were to sleep abroad, fully three minutes walk away, in a house of which opinions were soon formed, but a minute search of the bed and effects hardly failed to confirm our beliefs, and the night passed comfortably enough.


Easter Tour 1926 Part Two

Part Two:  The Two Voices

“Two voices are there, one is of the Sea

And one of the Mountains, each a mighty voice”.

As I awoke this morning, I lay in bed looking through the window at this green valley of Dyfi and its lines of guardian hills, such a contrast, I thought, to the bricks and mortar of the next street which falls to my lot through eleven twelfths of the year.  I arose early, before any of the others, and mounting my bike, took a leisurely spin down to Dinas Mawddwy.  In truth was I amidst my beloved Welsh mountains, though here they arise not in masses of rock, but in great earth-clods intersected with deep ravines that sometimes hide ravishing glens and cascades, and are sometimes black, treeless and as wild as could be imagined.  Romance and history too, breathes the air here: many a tale is told of the old-time terrors encountered during the crossing of the three inlet passes to Dinas, Bwlch-y-Fedwen from the east, Bwlch-y-Groes from the north, and Bwlch Oerddrus from the west, when the Red Robbers of Mawddwy haunted the mountains and laid waste to the hamlets and isolated farmsteads.  Now the terrors of these passes lie in the elements and gradients.  The air was fresh and sweet, and I pottered about in the ecstasy of one who has long days of untrammelled freedom before him.

When I returned I got news of a fresh terror abounding in the district.  When Tom and Fred had got up they had discovered a perfectly accoutred regiment of tiny beings at Swedish drill beneath the pillows.  Of course, being so thick-skinned, neither of them had been aware of the ravages of these latest “Red Banditti”.  So despite the view from the bedroom and the colossal breakfast we ate, I don’t think we shall ever feel inclined to give the Mallwyd tribe another chance.

At long last we were ready again, and sped down to Dinas Mawddwy, from where we entered a valley where the air was stifling, and where the gradient soon brought us down to shanks.  How we sweated on that long climb out of Cwm Cerist !; once again all superfluous clothing came off, and again Joe led the way, until (from a distance) he would pass for a clumsy chorus girl, Eton cropped.  Once we stopped to watch a sheep dog manoeuvring the sheep down to the farm, and safely driving every one down, without touching one.  At length we reached the head of Cwm Cerist, 1,178 ft, and stood at the entrance to Bwlch Oerddrus, the “Pass of the Cold Door”.  The view behind was of great lumps of earth rising one behind the other, and remarkably deep, narrow valleys separating each.  In wet seasons each ravine has its stream and each stream is a succession of waterfalls and cascades many of which are very fine.  Cold Door Pass was that morning more like Oven Door Pass, and a lengthy rest was made coupled with numerous excursions to the nearest stream.

On the Dogellau side a fresh view was laid before us.  Ahead was an area of tumbled mountain-land dominated by the broken and serried precipices of Cader Idris, the topmost point of which falls short by 73 feet of the coveted 3,000 mark; its most prominent abutments at this angle being Mynydd Moel, and a little northward, Mynydd-y-Gader, which shows a fine precipice in the ‘Giants Nose’.  North of the Giants Nose was the depression of the Mawddach between Dolgellau and Barmouth, beyond which extended the uncountable humps of Llawr Llech and the Ardudwy land, the principal heights being Diphwys, Y Llethr and the Merioneth Y-Gam.  The dull prevailing atmosphere did not spoil the distant visibility.

The descent to Cross Foxes was taken at hair raising speed over patches of stones that made one wince and punished the tyres severely.  Here we held a conference, for now our plans ended, and after much deliberation, turned our wheels uphill, and for two miles called for cold water bandages and perpetual shower baths, until we reached the tiny, weedy Llyn Bach.  ‘Twas said that one day Idris, the Giant, was juggling with chunks of rock, when three of them fell into this lake’, and to flavour the story three stones are pointed out in the water.  This gives rise to the old name, Llyn Tragraienyn which, I think, means “Lake of the Three Pebbles”.

The view that greeted us as we rounded the bend at the summit was magnificent.  On each were reared a line of cliffs, grey cliffs, serrated with a thousand gullies and chimneys down the left hand of which the road wormed its way like a long white snake.

“Splintered, contorted and riven

As though from the topmost crown

Some giant plougher his share had driven

In a hundred furrows clean down”.

The screes and precipices of Cader Idris on the right, Craig-y-Llam on the left, and away at the bottom of the Pass gleamed the waters of Tal-y-Llyn beneath the shadows of the Red Crag.  We stopped many times on the descent of Tal-y-Llyn Pass, for many new beauties were constantly coming into sight, and the condition of the road called for extra care.  The surface steadily grew worse until, when Minffordd was reached at the foot of the Pass, Tom punctured, an occurrence that the rest of us hailed with delight.  Across, a broiling stream cascaded down the mountainside to form a fine fall in an exquisite setting of van-coloured trees.  We sat watching a curlew wheeling and settling, we saw a cuckoo (the first?) but did not hear it, and later identified several herons.  Then we crashed over a stony surface to Tal-y-Llyn.  One continually hears this called Tal-y-Llyn Lake, a gross mistake, for, as it literally means ‘Point of the Lake’, what is the use of the extra word ‘lake’?  Obviously the name is a misfit, and I wonder what the real name is – surely it had a Cymric appellation with a definite meaning !  Now we got the view in the opposite direction (from the lake) with the road a slender thread running into the jaws of the Pass.  We had barely left the lake, and were careering downhill when my rear tyre, with a loud protest, expired, and an examination of the cover revealed a companion gash to the one sustained near Bala.  They are too near each other to be healthy for the tyre, but I made the best job I could of it whilst the rest went off to order lunch at Llanfihangel-y-Pennant.

Easter Tour 1926 Part 2002


I rode warily at first, almost fearfully, until I came to the smoother, grass-grown track which runs along the northern hillside, then as my fear wore off my speed increased until soon I was crashing along as carelessly as ever.  From where one looks down on the grey village of Abergynolwyn, the road bends to the right and runs, accompanied by the vivacious river Dyssini, through a lovely little pass which was ablaze with golden gorse and bracken.  This road, the ‘Discovery’ of Ben and I last July, is far superior to the main road for scenery, and is smoother, though green and gated.

I had a wash in the river, a cooling luxury not in any way spoiled by the towel, which had remained rolled up in my bag since Cynwyd and could hardly be expected to be dry, whilst my own soap, having been used up, had been supplemented by some unlatherable stuff we had ‘won’ at Mallwyd.  So to the cross-roads and along the forgotten lane that ends at Llanfihangel-y-Pennant.  The Temperance Hotel was still there, and what was more, lunch was waiting, so without delay we tucked in.  Succeeding relays were shifted with growing gusto until the poor housekeeper positively despaired of us.  A rumour went round that a lorry had been sent for fresh supplies !  Llanfihangel-y-Pennant has a population below the number of letters in the name, consists of a tiny church, a Temperance Hotel and about three cottages.  It is situated in a hollow at the western end of Cader Idris, and so far as vehicles are concerned, is only accessible from the narrow, steep, gated lane from Afon Dysinni.  That Easter Saturday it was a captivating little spot, intensely green, whilst the gardens were a riot of apple blossom and flowers, and its whole keynote was a wonderful peace and quietness.

Returning to the cross-roads (Pont Ystumaner), we rode by winding sunken lanes to the foot of the famous ‘Craig-yr-Aderyn’, Bird Rock, which, a huge mass of sheer rock, overhangs the road.  The name is true to a letter, for it is the haunt of hundreds of birds who nest in the almost inaccessible cracks and ledges.  This bold crag forms a landmark for miles around.  Then our way lay across the river and along the north side of the valley where we struck a good road and made a hot pace to Llanegryn.  From the fork roads, looking back, we got a magnificent view down the Dyssini valley to Bird Rock and Cader beyond.  Here again we conferred over our next move until Tom suggested climbing Snowdon on the morrow; we fell for that, and decided to make for a point within striking distance.  Came a hard struggle for two miles against a sea breeze until we suddenly came on the coast.  The Sea !  And what a sea it is here, too !

The ceaseless roar of the breakers on the shore, the gently-swelling, sun reflecting waters stretching as far as the eye could see to the dim horizon.  To the north, the Lleyn Peninsula was hidden in a low mist, from which the mountain peaks of western Carnarvon rose like peaked islands from the water, a dozen or more stretched out in a long line.  It was idyllic to sit upon the wall and watch the curling waves break in a perfect line of foam on the golden sands below, to watch the ‘white horses’ ride on the water and to feel the salt breeze beat on one’s face.  Then to potter along the cliffs through quaint fishing villages like Llangelynin and Llwyngwril.  It was just beyond here that we spotted a stream containing a good pool, so off came our footwear and our shirts, and once more we sought the cool water and latherless soap and wet towels.  From the road at this point the principal Shire-Carnarvon peaks were visible including Snowdon – who could mistake Snowdon ?  At Fairbourne, at the bar of the Mawddach, Billy continued our sequence of tyre trouble by puncturing, so while he repaired it, we raided a nearby fruitshop.  After that we dilly-dallied behind a herd of cows which crowded the road, escaping (us, not the cows!) to the railway station, from which we crossed the long bridge over the estuary.  If the railway company have planted an ugly viaduct across the Mawddach, they have provided one with a glorious viewpoint down this incomparable river.  At the tollgate we were asked if we had ridden on the path, and on admitting it, the keeper waxed furious, so we suggested going back and walking across, which did not seem to strike him as being particularly bright, so we left him at that.

Barmouth held us just long enough to get some postcards, then we pushed on, for it was 5pm and we had developed a first-class hunger.  I knew of a place at Dyffryn, five miles away, where they catered for hungers like we had.  ‘Pushed’ is hardly the word for it; they simply blinded, led by Billy and Tom (Billy avows he is a potterer), and I took things easily, anticipating that tea would be ready when I got there, but my plans fell through and I had to wait after all.  Dyffryn is sandwiched between Llanddwywe and Llanenddwyn, the three making one long straggling street on each side of the road.  An inherent feature in Welsh folks, young and old alike, is the way they stare at every passer-by, especially cyclists.  Probably, however, we were something worth staring at, though I can never tell whether it is in admiration or derision; shorts and alpacas, sleeves rolled up, a nice sunburn, and perpetual smiles are perhaps indicative of stares.

Easter Tour 1926 Part 2003 We had a long, long wait, during what time our hunger deepened to a great yearning, but when tea was ‘up’ it was worth waiting for.  Once again the good lady trooped to and fro with fresh supplies until we got ashamed of asking for more, and she said “I wish I had an appetite like yours !”.  It was making for 7pm when we remounted and pottered along the straggling street, poking pithy pars at all the lassies (and getting still more pithy replies).  Tom and Joe had returned to ‘fixed’ and demonstrated to us on the many hills the superiority of the cog, but on the many downs we left them far behind.  After the climb to Llanbedr, we got a surprise view of the sweeping bay of Harlech, and with the castle in dusky outline at the end, and the beautiful, darkening sea with its everlasting voice.  We lit our lamps at Harlech, then swept on, at what time Joe cast his saucer eyes and melted the heart of every flapper in the town (he said so, anyway !).  Came a long descent by a tree-shaded bank and on a terrible surface which we just had to crash over in the dark.

Five oil lamps of the ‘bobby dodger’ type give far more smoke than light.  The surface grew steadily worse to Eisingrug, our pace being reduced to 6 mph, but after that a magnificent surface lured us to higher speed, then dropped us again into a rubble-heap.  We nearly went wrong at the fork-roads beyond Talsarnau, taking the Ffestiniog turn, but scenting something wrong we soon regained the right road.  Joe said that I turned towards Ffestiniog instinctively – I think he is pointing to certain weekend jaunts and Jennie (of whom more elsewhere), but if that is so, he is mistaken.  After being rattled to bits crossing the embankment and bridge over the Dwyryd, (we had to pay for it in the shape of a toll), we rolled into Penrhyndeudraeth.  Here again at the cross-roads my bicycle swerved towards Ffestiniog, and I believe that it would have bounded over the intervening seven miles if I had let it !

While Billy and I sat waiting in Penrhyn etc, a youth passed us, staggering with a heavy parcel which I proffered to carry for a halfpenny.  He mustn’t have been a humorist for he burst into a torrent of oaths, both in English and Welsh.  He probably wanted to make sure that we understood him.  If ever I get wild I don’t think I shall resort to Welsh swear words – they aren’t half so expressive as English !  When Tom and Joe went blinding past it was the last we saw of them until Beddgelert (eight miles).  Billy and I pottered up the big hill across the Ffestiniog toy railway line, and along the flats of Traeth Mawr to Garreg, where we found that Fred was missing and had a long wait for him.  He had been troubled by a brake that went on alright but wouldn’t go off.  The night was pitch dark – made darker by the overshadowing mountains, and what with the surface, our factory-chimney lamps, and a drizzle that had set in, we had a right merry time.  The experience of this road at New Year stood me in good stead, so I knew what to expect in the way of looming cliffs and hairpin bends, whilst we never dreamed of meeting a motor vehicle.  Strange though it may seem, but it is a fact that except for just in Chester and Bala, we did not meet the average of one motor vehicle per mile, whilst from Llanwchllyn to Mallwyd on the previous day, a distance of 16 miles, we saw one solitary motor car.  This is a decisive answer to the parrot cry of over-crowded roads which oozes from our newspapers from time to time.

Well, the surface went better and the rain harder, and we came to Pont Aberglaslyn, that beauty spot which is too oft-quoted for me to mention here.  Besides it was left to our imagination, for we saw little enough in the intense darkness.  In the Pass the rain came down in torrents and soaked us, so our capes went on, then in a few moments we reached Beddgelert.  Tom and Joe were waiting – they had secured lodgings at Llewellyn’s cottage, so we were soon stabling the bikes.  We found Beddgelert crowded with cyclists and climbers, and during a walk round, met, for the third time, our Bolton friends.

Either they have learned sense at Llewellyn’s cottage or they had got wind of our coming, for at supper we got a massive loaf to cut as we pleased.  We had a good supper !  Then we saw the sight of our lives – the storm.

As we sat chatting, we heard the distant rolling of thunder coming nearer and saw intermittent flashes of lightening.  We had to sleep elsewhere, Tom and Fred in one house, and Joe, Billy and I in another, so the people came to lead us to our respective quarters.  One had a flashlamp, so we promptly dubbed her ‘Florence Nightingale’ (the Lady with the Lamp).  On our way a brilliant sheet of lightening came which lit the mountains south of us, defining the contours and showing a cloud-spread sky, followed by a deafening roar of thunder.  By a stroke of luck I won the toss for the single room which overlooked the two rivers and Beddgelert village.  The storm was veering round so as to face my window, and for a long time we stood watching it until it seemed to be dying away, and they left me.

I had just put the candle out and was adjusting the window when a blinding flash of lightening came, immediately followed by a loud rending sound as if some gigantic hand was enclosing in its grasp and crushing to matchwood, a great wooden building, so near as to seem in the next field.  In the momentary glare of the lightening I saw a line – a cluster of rugged peaks, every house in Beddgelert, the winding rivers, the fields, the trees, the roads, even the mountain tracks.  In that brief moment the most complete and vivid picture of Beddgelert had engraved itself indelibly on my mind.  I am not afraid of the elements – indeed I enjoy a thunderstorm, but that terrific flash which showed me the awful power of it, sent me reeling from the window.  Following it came a terrific explosion that deafened me and shook the house like a jelly.  People were afraid, I had heard them shouting and running about outside, and as for me, well I got in bed and waited for the next which I fully expected to bring the house down.  The worst was over, however, and gradually the thunder grew more distant until the oblivion of sleep hid the last of it from me.


A Renascense of Wonder – Easter Touring

Part one:    Over the Hills and Far Away

There were the inseparable five out, beside two out-and-homers and at Chester we met together at 9am.  Good Friday.  The holiday spirit was with us.  Bill’s infectious laugh rang out constantly, and Fred’s jokes came out every minute’ we pedalled down the Wrexham road with a speed that betokened of impatience to fling ourselves clear of modern highways and conventions.  What a perfect morning it was, too!; the sun was strong and all superfluous clothing was thrown off, whilst water was in constant demand, surely a herald of summer?  At Rossett we bade adieu to the highways, climbing out of the Vale of Gresford, and passing one or two outpost collieries at Cefn-y-Bedd, again ascending to Ffrith, where we decided to go through Nant-y-Ffrith instead of the Glaslyn road to Bwlch Gwyn.  This route from Rossett to Llandegla and Corwen is a pet route of ours, a little-known ‘back door’ into Wales, and for scenery, the superior way.  Need I say that our choice of Nant-y-Ffrith was justified?  Spring abounded in the dell; the hard, hot graft of hoisting the bikes over stiles and on the stony path was forgotten in the ecstasy of everything around.  Here a yellow carpet of primrose, the golden glory of gorse, the tender greenery of new leaves and bursting buds, the moss-grown rocks, and near the head of the valley one looked across a little field of clustered daffodils into the Ffrith, and stood on the tiny bridge that has made ‘incomparable’ Pont Aberglaslyn comparable.  Then the drive lined with the loveliest of fir and pine, the high village of Bwlch Gwyn, with its extensive views of the Cheshire plain, and the four miles of moorlands to the upland Vale of Llandegla, and not least to lunch at Ypento.  Before we left we ran into four Bolton CTC-ites, starting thus a strange sequence of meetings.

As we had no definite plans for our tour, we had now to decide on our next move, so to avoid the motors which invade the main roads in hordes at Easter, we joined the Corwen road.  At the Llangollen-Ruthin road the two out-and-homers left us, and on freewheels, we swooped along the switchback 10 miles at evens.  A few yards of the Holyhead road led us to quieter, if rougher ways.  As the heat was intense and we all felt the need for a wash, we joined the footpath leading from Cynwyd to the waterfall.  The fall, which only exists at rainy times, had run dry, but beneath it we found a deep pool of crystal water.  With our shirts, shoes and stockings stripped off, we paddled away to our heart’s content, and to see the linen decked on the rock, one would think that a washing day was in progress.  Ain’t that lovely? (as Billy was wont to exclaim).  Then back to Cynwyd, and a potter, punctuated by several stops for water, down the Vale of Edeyrnion, the beauty of which is very controversial, though for my part I regard it as a gem of the Dee.  From Llandrillo (where they supply ‘crystal water’ on tap) to Llandderfel by a steep bank of rock-slopes amongst which has grown a luxurious foliage, then along the south side of the Vale of Penllyn, another beautiful reach of the Dee, just where it flows out of Bala lake.  I sustained a rather bad gash in my rear tyre, which was a new one, but after all, the bigger punctures are, the easier they are found, and soon we were blithely proceeding again.  On Bala bridge Joe punctured.  What nicer place could one wish for a puncture (if it is someone else’s), than this point where the Dee leaves the lake, and you get a full-length view of the shimmering waters and its encircling hills, with just a touch of grandeur added by the rocky peak of Aron Mawddwy, standing like a saw-edge away to the west.  Billy and Tom and I went to order tea in Bala, discovering there a veritable mare’s nest of cyclists and motorists.  Our favourite place, the ‘Bull Bach’ was overcrowded, so we had to dig ourselves into another place.  Here began the oft-told tale of the trail of famine and desolation, began here the incessant cry for “more”, a cry that, I believe, echoes yet in the ears of many caterers.

Bala town held no charms for us; the sun was sinking, and we should have to put up a bit of hard-riding if we wanted to cross Bwlch-y-Groes before dark.  The Pass of the Cross is no place with a cycle on a moonless night.  The road that undulates along the north shore of Llyn Tegid is very pretty, affording fine views of the Western Berwyns across the lake, but it is where one turns away from the main road and runs through Llanwchllyn (‘Church at end of Lake’) that the best panorama is laid before one.  To the north a wild upland hollow leads into the zig-zag of mountain peaks dominated by bulky Arenig Fawr, and westward the bold contour of Rhinog and Rhobell are only exceeded by striking Aran Mawddwy which lifted its 2,970 ft saw-edge into a sky that was just changing from blue to grey.  Before us was an extraordinary jumble of rough highlands, neither mountain or moorland, and somewhere in there lay the road to Bwlch-y-Groes.  Our speed petered out ignominiously when grey-built Llanwchllyn was passed, and the first of the long (8 miles) series of walks and grinds uphill started.

As we mounted higher, the mountain views opened out until below us like a huge sheet of glass, lay Llyn Tegid, and around, the splendid profiles of a dozen rocky peaks.  For mile after mile we climbed, each mile harder than the last, gradually reducing us to the consistency of butter, and looking for water with the fervidness of a desert wanderer.  Clothing came off gradually to the very last point of decency – but still, we were the only people up there, so what mattered ?  Once when I was in front, a cyclist caught up to me, and we rode and walked together for some time.  He was one of the Manchester District Association CTC and told me that one of his friends had broken his [handle]bars a few miles back, so he was off for some new ones.  I thought it a rather futile mission.  The surface became consistent with the nature of the road, gates appeared, then above the last lone farm of Ty-Isaf, past the last belt of wind-swept trees, the road launched onto a precipice.  On the left rose a wall of crags, sheer from the road for a hundred feet or more, on the right the road crumbled over the edge of the cliff, and one might stand and look down on Ty-Isaf, and think what a skid on one of the loose stones would mean.  Night was coming on apace, the hush of twilight had fallen, across the valley, at the head of a wild cwm rose the dusky cliffs of Aran; in front the darkening moors rose in waves with the brown-white road just discernible here and there.  Awed by the silence brooding over all, and by the immense impression of height, we pushed on, tramping over one moorland ridge to be confronted by yet another, until the road tilted gently down.  The photograph below, taken by me on the Bwlch-y-Groes in 1956 shows three intrepid RSF members on the said track – now regrettably a tarmac road – namely Vic Ginger at the front, H H Willis behind and bringing up the rear my very good friend John Barrow, attending the RSF Easter Meet with me.  I should say that Vic Ginger, who lived in Wrexham, was a real character, and without his help the RSF would have struggled to erect a memorial stone to ‘Wayfarer’ on the well known Berwyn crossing ‘Over the Top’.  Please search the Vic Ginger correspondence on this website and you will see what I mean by a real character.


The summit of Bwlch-y-Groes: seventeen hundred and ninety feet above sea level; and what of it?  It is the highest road pass in Wales, and feels the highest, too; one feels on the roof of the world, moorlands dark and dim, rolling wave upon wave into the dusk; here and there a crag, here and there a low precipice, and above all a great solitude – ‘And all the air a solemn stillness holds’ – Wild?  Yes, wild and magnificent, a reward beyond all measure for the eight mile of uphill toil.

Around the next bend I stopped again and let the others go on.  Here was a grass-grown road branching away into the dusky waves of moorland, a lone finger post pointing towards Lake Vrnwy, and, harsh note, a gaudy tin disc announced ‘Impracticable for Motors’.  So, my curiosity aroused, I made a mental vow that ere long I’ll go over that road.  In front the road descended at an alarming gradient down the mountainside, whilst across the valley a line of crags rose for hundreds of feet.  Shall I tell of the nerve-racking descent on freewheel with only a front calliper?  The ‘road’ drops about a thousand feet in a mile, but it has, on the whole, a surprisingly good surface, so by walking on the steepest pitches (1 in 4.5), I found it rideable.  The others, who were better braked, rode it all, though at the best of times it is a risky job.  A slip on the outside edge would send one to eternity.  Of course I am the ‘chicken’ when it comes to taking risks of any sort, and, therefore, I was last.  When I reached the bottom, where the road makes a fearful hairpin bend, there was all the party, with the exception of Fred, helping Joe to find a puncture.  So I went on to catch Fred and proceed with him to Dinas Mawddwy, where we could find diggings for the night, but lo!, round the next bend there was Fred seeking diligently for a puncture.  Although he avowed that he had heard it go down, we could find no perforation, so we put it back and pumped it up, and it troubled us no more.  The reason is not hard to find.  So hot had the rim become through hard braking, that the solution at the tube joints had softened and let the air out.  On cooling it had automatically sealed again.  The same thing occurred with Joe too, and is, in fact, by no means uncommon.

Easter Tour 1926 Part 1001



Fred and I carried on.  The night was dark, more so because we were in a deep valley, the stars were clouded over, we could not see the clouds but we felt them, we felt the hot, heavy atmosphere as of a brooding storm.  The road was fast and very narrow and winding, and though our flickering oil lamps were but poor light we sped along.  Who says one cannot see anything in the dark?  A bit of woodland, heavily scented, a farmstead or cottage looming up through the night, the dark, bulky mountains just visible on the skyline, a bridge, and the gurgling of a stream, perhaps the glimpse of a cataract in a lonely burn, and ever below, just in front, the yellow glimmer of the oil lamps.  The road surface would entice us to increase our speed, then a lighter patch, showing faintly would rush on us, we would flounder over a patch of stones – then smoothness, silence again.  Once the ring of a cycle bell was followed by a hurrying figure “Hallo, got the handlebars?” we queried.  “Yes, Good night”, and he was gone, heading for Bwlch-y-Groes.  From Llanymawddwy to Aber Cowarch the romantic run continued, then we walked a hill and hailed the lighted streets of Dinas Mawddwy just as heavy rain drops began to fall.

What a time we had then, searching for lodgings !  Nearly all Dinas Mawddwy had gone to a local Eisteddfodd, but patiently we worked the CTC places up, enlisting the aid of the local grocer and general store-keeper.  He was an enterprising chap, was the Dinas Mawddwy grocer, for he stipulated that in payment for his aid, we should just mention, “casual like”, that he had sent us.  The rest of the party came up then, and we set to, in a combined effort.  Where they had not gone to the Eisteddfodd, they were full up, though I fancy they had got the wire that we were coming, and had consequently decided to boycott us.  One old lady was positively terrified !  When we had been to every house in Dinas, it dawned on us that the time was getting late, so off we blinded to Mallwyd, the next village (2 miles) and incidentally the last for 12 miles (Machynlleth).  The listed cottage there, our ‘white hope’, struck us as being just the place, so, summoning to mind all the dodges and bluffs of our tribe, we put our fortunes to the touch.  It came off, and soon we were seated inside waiting for supper, five ravenous wolves, hidden by five saintly, innocent exteriors.

We only intended having a bite at supper time, but – well, one thing leads to another !  Two bedrooms accommodated us, viz: Tom and Fred, one room; Bill, Joe and I in the next, Bill occupying the ‘single’.  Why all the explanation ?  Well, when all had gone quiet, except for a resonant snore from Joe, Bill rose in mighty wrath and pointed to several blisters.  In sympathy I rose too, and soon the two of us were in full cry amid the bedclothes, singing “A Hunting We will Go!”  It was a long exciting chase, over the sheets, under the pillow and round the bedposts, and such was the fury of the hunt that dire threats came from the next room and Joe ceased his snoring to dreamily enquire the trouble.  After that we found peace, and with it came the oblivion of slumber.