Thursday, 19 June 2014

Welsh 3 Peaks Hike & Bike Challenge – Day 1

Right! Now down to the business end of this trip, the challenge itself. Ryan dropped us off at Pen y Pass and with a spring in our step we set off up the Pyg track at 7:45 on Monday morning. The cloud base was low and it wasn’t long before we were in it. We packed light weight literally just water, food, windproof and of course the camera, compact one though to stay with the lightweight theme. We really did just get the head down and plod on besides we were not missing the views due to the low cloud. I was surprised when we passed the stone marking the junction with the Miners track and then further surprised, pleasantly I might add when we turned right sharply to start up the zigzags. 

The sound of the train chugging away became louder and louder and sure enough on the final stretch up to the summit it came past us heading back down the mountain. We found the summit area deserted, I’m sure a far cry from the previous two days, one of the beauties of doing this challenge during the week.

A quick video and photo and we set off back down the same route we came up on, this time passing more and more people heading in the opposite direction. The cloud base was starting to lift and as we continued blue skies came into view across the Glyderau. We returned back to Pen y Pass car park 2hrs 45 mins after setting off, that was one down two to go.

The car park was now a hive of activity and Ryan met us with our gear, we quickly changed into the cycling gear, many people now looking in our direction obviously wondering what the heck we were doing. We set off with a plan to meet up further down the road close to the Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel away from the hustle and bustle. A nice quick descent down on the bike to where Ryan had relocated was followed by shear bliss…. “I thought you guys could do with these” said Ryan producing a sausage & bacon butty each from Pete’s eats, man they tasted good!!

The cycle journey down to Cadair Idris was 44 miles and the ride down to Beddgelert was wonderful giving fantastic views down to Llyn Gwynant and beyond, I don’t think I pedalled for the first two miles as it was all downhill. We then went through Beddgelert and followed Afon Glaslyn passing the Welsh Highland Railway train on the opposite bank. Turning left over the bridge onto the A4085 we followed this until we came to the left turn on the B4410 what came next was a long relentless climb up to Rhyd and we were glad to have a break and top up on fluids at the Oakeley Arms Hotel car park. Then we headed up the main A487/A470 down towards Coed y Brenin giving nice views across to the Rhinogydd. We turned off the main road and took the cycle route 8/82, this was a lovely stretch on virtually traffic free roads to Dolgellau before picking up the A470 again and turning right at Cross Foxes onto the A487 and finished with an awesome descent down to Minffordd. Ride details below.

When we reached the campsite we enjoyed a short break which for me involved a fruit cider and a wade through the stream to try and refresh the legs. This next bit was the section I was least looking forward in the whole challenge, the walk up Cadair Idris as I knew the legs would be tired. 

We set off up the step steps through the woods until we went through the gate in the wall when we were out in the open the afternoon sun was roasting hot, Cwm Cau looked great as always as we headed left up onto the ridge and it was across this ridge that the days activities really started to take it toll as I laboured on round the ridge and up onto the summit of Penygadair.

The views form the top down the Barmouth and the coast where great and we jsut sat outside the shelter and rested for a while before starting our descent back down, when we reached Craig Cau we decided the cut the route short and headed down the steep scree face to the end of Llyn Cau picking up the path around the Llyn. A very inviting shallow beach looking area was just too tempting and we both sat fully in the freezing waters of Llyn Cau to cool off, I have to say this brilliant and really did refresh the muscles before we returned back to the campsite and another trip to Pen y Bont pub to discuss the days events, 2 down 1 to go!!

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