Bank Holiday morning was so glorious that Jack got up first at the unearthly hour of 8am, and not content with that, proceeded to awaken me. I protested vigorously, advancing the opinion that, as we had only ninety miles or so to cover, we ought to have a long sleep and a good rest. But Jack was keen on an early getaway and an easy potter, so Jack won. A swim was too risky in the raging river, but we dashed the sleep from us by means of an awfully chilly sit-down in a bubbling cataract, and then proceeded to polish off the usual gargantuan breakfast.
We packed up and slid down to Betws-y-Coed. Hot, glorious sunshine all the way up Dinas hill, with the Lledr valley beaming and the granite crescent of Moel Siabod above it, clear in the clear blue of the sky. At Pentrefoelas we turned north along the mountain road to Denbigh, and along that road, at a farm, was a notice board offering fresh cream for sale. We bought cream and half a quartern loaf. The lady was of the hardy mountain type, a type that a constant struggle with a barren earth has produced. She could speak no English at all, though she was apparently well under 40 years of age, and we could only surmise that she had recently come from the remote rockies of Shire-Carnarvon, or from the semi-waste hinterland of Anglesey. A man acted as interpreter, but she understood coinage so well that we found ourselves paying for bread at the rate of sixpence a pound. An argument ensued in Welsh from one side and English from the other, and the result was hardly enlightening to the detached observer who might be present. We eventually held our own and proceeded on our hilly way in happiness. From the first summit we beheld (as we had hoped) a magnificent prospect of all the principal North Wales peaks, laid out in line and behind each other like a mutilated saw-edge, and every one – even Snowdon, without a wisp of mist. At 1584 ft we reached the summit where, beneath a ridge, the little Sportsman’s Arms Inn snuggles safe from the winds.
There was a great descent for about nine miles to Denbigh, and we held not our impulsive steed, while real moving pictures unfurled before our eyes – the pleasant Vale of Clywd and its line of Moels, a brown chain of blunt peaks dominated by Moel Fammau.
We had lunch at Denbigh, and found the Pentrefoelas bread terrible stuff that we couldn’t possibly masticate. We threw eighty per cent of it to a cow in a field, and waited a bit to see what effect it had, but the cow remained normal so we gave it the other twenty per cent. Denbigh was hardly three miles behind, and we were skipping away down the Vale of Clwyd with a fine wind aft, when there was a great sigh below. In automatic silence, born of practice, we proceeded to mend another puncture. After that we ‘slipped it’.
There was nothing to linger for on these roads, for these roads are as familiar as the back of my hand, and whatever charms may lie along them can comfortably be explored on a Sunday run. So we ‘slipped it’ through the long level valley to Mold, along the Wrexham road, then a lane and in turn the rolling road to Chester. On the outskirts of Chester we punctured again, and it proved the last of the series. We met a camping pair who often camp with us o’ weekends. They were returning from a three day trip on the mountainous roads round Vyrnwy, and had a weary story to tell of Saturday nights deluge, of trying to light a primus with petrol, and of a consequent flare up inside the tent – with the tent closed up. To go by various adventures, these two certainly seem the most happy-go-lucky pair of a happy-go-lucky crowd.
After tea at a place midway between Chester and Warrington, we pottered home for 10pm – a reasonable time to end a holiday.
Two – a tandem – and a tyre ! I ought to put “and three tyres”, for three tyres and five tubes were the back wheels total in ten days. We must have had punctures, bursts or blowouts at least twenty times, and with as many heart-thumps, swan-songs, and ten times as many laughs !
NEXT WEEK ON THIS WEBSITE. A complete change of scene.