My other trips all tend to be flat out, but I really wanted to slow down for this one and take my time seeing things, having the time to stop if I wanted to and not feel the need to keep going. That was the plan!
So with "Lucille" ready to go, a fresh set of oil in her I went to fire her up for a last trip down to top up with fuel and she would not start. No amount of kicking over, swearing or trying to jump start her would get her to fire up.
With all the usual things checked off, I thought I would just try a fresh spark plug. Taking the old one out it was a bit sooty. New one in and off she went like a dream.
Next day I said my farewells and off I set, following the exactly the same route as in my previous post all the way to Monmouth.
Loaded and packed - ready to go!
The weather was a lot kinder as well, no where near as cold as it was on my last trip. This does make a massive difference to your well being.
My target for the day was a small camp site just past Brecon in South Wales. I had checked it out on the web and it looked fine for what I wanted.
I managed to find it ok, and set up my small Vango Banshee 2 man tent. This time I had the luxury of a hookup cable which I had made up myself and carried with me. Brilliant for charging up my mobile and giving me light.
The camp site was called Aberbran Fawr Farm, which is just outside of Brecon on the A40. Well signposted to Aberbran, but be aware there are a number of camp sites all close to each other.
I paid £11.00 for the night and that included my electric hookup, which I was happy about. The camp site was large with plenty of room, there are a few seasonal pitches but the night I spent there I saw no sign of life in any of them. There were just two other caravans on site.
The shower/toilet block was brand new and fantastic. Heated as well! So certainly no complaints about that. It even had a washing up place.
The site backed onto a river so may not be suitable for really young kids unless you keep them chained up all the time.
That night once I was all set up, I did have the notion to travel back into Brecon for a bite to eat, but to be honest I just wanted to relax, read my book and chill out. So with a bit of forward planning I broke out the Super Noodles, but just not any old Super Noodles, no, Beef and Ale Pie Super Noodles. A culinary feast which in the end gave me chronic indigestion and a rough nights sleep!
I was awake fairly early, due to the fact I could hear rain on the tent, not a good start to the day. Upon checking the weather forecast by 0800hrs it was supposed to clear up for an hour or so, then as I travel North it was supposed to brighten up.
So with a bit of time to kill, back to my book and another brew!
All packed up and ready to go, but "Lucille" does not like the damp and would not kick over, so with no kit on I pushed her up the hill, and with a bit of free wheeling, clunked into 1st and away she went!
I left her running while I loaded up and then I was off.
My route today, took me up through Wales with my final destination being a trip down the Llanberis Pass to a campsite a mile from Caernarfon.
From Aberbran I set out North across the lanes and a military training area, which was bleak to say the least. I had to stop and put on my water proofs as it started to rain and blow a gale.
I got to Garth and from here the weather improved. Via B roads to Newbridge on Wye then for a short stint on the A470 to Rhayader where I turned left and headed for the Elan Valley.
I stopped for a brew at Elan Village in the visitor centre. About 20 minutes earlier I was overtaken by a pair of BMW GS's they were parked up in the car park and their owners inside. They completely ignored me even though I sat just two tables away.
I really do not wish to stereotype GS owners but what a pair of snobbish bastards!
The Elan Valley is spectacular, and I was very glad that I had managed to find it and then ride it in sunshine!
From here I tried to keep to B roads as much as possible but even the A470 is a quiet road and it gave me no problems. Through Dolgellau and heading for Porthmadog, but turning North before I got there and heading for Beddgelert.
Here the roads and views were lovely, with water cascading over rocks as it wound it's way along the valley floors.
From Beddgelert I took the A498 and then turned off towards Caernarfon and the Llanberis Pass.
The Llanberis Pass was easy to ride up and posed no problems for "Lucille" just a steady pace and she got to the top, straight over the top and it's all down hill. I stopped 2/3rds of the way down for a quick photo.
I was staying at a camp site called Riverside Camping, a site I last stayed when I was still at school and on a family holiday. To be honest, as I rode in there was nothing I could remember. It was not till I saw the river that borders the camp site that a few hazy memories came back.
A great camp site, it cast me £15.00 a night which considering it's location I thought was ok. The shower block all though not new, was clean and functional with loads of hot water.
I was more than happy with my spot, right next to the river, with no one else near by. Pure bliss.
That night I went up to a curry house which would of only been a 10 minute walk, but being lazy rode up and had a very good Dansak, and a great pint of really cold cobra.
I wasn't late to bed that night, and slept soundly with the noise of the water tumbling over the rocks as my background music.
Day 3 and I had no plans other than to ride up the Llanberis Pass and just ride where ever the wind blew me.
After the Pass I turned left and headed for Capel Curig where I had a slap up breakfast, and looked over my map to see where I could go. Headed for Betws-y-Coed and then back towards Blaenau Ffestiniog, which as I entered looked bleak and unforgiven.
Spoil heaps of old slate looked as if it would engulf the town at any second. On I went without stopping. Over some B roads and made my way towards Beddgelert where I stopped for a brew and relaxed in a cafe for a while.
Heading off once more I took the A4085 which runs the other side of Snowdon and into Caernarfon. I parked up right next to the castle and had an ice cream as the sun was out and it was a tad warm in all my bike gear.
From here I rode out towards the airport hugging the coast, not a long trip, but found some great places to stop if we were in the camper.
I then headed back to the camp site, it was still only mid afternoon, but with the sun shining an afternoon of sitting in the sun, with my book and a brew was most appealing.
That night I rode back into Caernarfon for fish and chips, to be honest it was rubbish, but sitting looking up towards the castle made up for it.
Back at the camp site I checked the weather for the next day. Heavy rain all day! Now my original plan was to head back to Brecon, stay the night and then head back the next day. Making the journey back easy and relaxing. But with the weather looking grim to say the least I really did not fancy being soaked, then putting up a tent and staying in it wet.
I decided that what ever the weather the next day I would see how long it took me to get to Brecon, and from there make the decision - camp or blast my way home!
I woke at 0500hrs, the sun was rising and it all looked good, but things can change quickly, and I did not want to be lulled into a false sense of security. So I packed up in the dry, squared everything away, and pushing my bike out of the camp site as it was still only 0600hrs and I didn't want to wake anyone I was off.
By 0900hrs I was still dry, but it was getting more overcast, by 0930hrs I felt my first spots, and by 1000hrs it was pouring down in buckets.
I stopped for breakfast, a little damp but still dry once I had taken off my waterproofs and then pushed on. No let up in the rain, it kept tipping it down.
Even with waterproofs on, it was only a matter of time before I felt myself getting a bit damp around the legs.
I arrived in Brecon just after lunch time and I there and then made the decision that I would push on home.
Refuelled, warmed up, and away once more. The rain did easy every now and again, but by this time my lower half was definitely wet. Top half was ok, which was something to be thankful for.
As I left Monmouth I took a different route, and as I pulled out of a fuel station near Ross on Wye I lost my map book which is normally clamped onto my wind shield. I did not notice that it had gone for a while, but was a bit annoyed as there were notes and camp sites scribbled into it.
Into Gloucester and yet again, I managed to go a way that I had never been before. Are there really that many ways to go through Gloucester?
I was doing ok for time, but as I crossed over the M4 I knew that I had to stop. Bath being the obvious place. I pushed on, very wet by now and cold. Into Bath I noticed a diversion sign, but didn't manage to read all of it and paid no more attention to it. I stopped at Morrisons, and squelched into the shop for a coffee and a pee. My feet were soaking and my boots full of water.
Refuelled, and with a bit of warmth from the coffee inside me made my way through the rush hour traffic of Bath, up the hill towards Warminster to find the road closed! Yes, the diversion was for me and I had missed it! I cursed a thousand curses!
Back through all the traffic once more and back on the A4 towards Chippenham, before cutting across to Melksham and finally Warminster.
At least the rain had eased off a bit. I stopped for my final time at Shaftesbury, for yet more coffee and fuel and then the final push for home.
I got back wet, well, in fact soaked, you could pour water out of my boots! My trousers had leaked but my top half had stayed remarkably dry some how!.
I checked the mileage for the day and I had completed 312 miles in pouring rain, only stopping for grub, coffee and fuel. It had taken me 13 hrs from start to finish.
Looking back I wanted this trip to be all about relaxed riding, taking time out to stop for photo's and enjoying the experience. and that is what I did for 3 days, however, my last day was the best, the day I got soaked and spent 13 hrs riding 312 miles non stop.
Not too sure what to make of that, other than I am not right in the head.
The journey continues...........