Welsh spine #4 – Glyndwr and Burger’s revenge

Explosions in the sky – First breath after coma
       The morning annouced itself with rain tapping on our tents. It wasn’t particularly heavy rain and so we packed up whilst keeping a close eye at any signs inclement weather to come. Clouds sped across the sky bringing rain followed by sunshine and then rain again. “Nothing tragic” – we observe, anyway it was getting late from all this rain-spotting and we decide to get on our way to Machynlleth.
The town is not far away from our camping and after a couple kilometers of tarmac we are in the centre consisting of… two streets forming a T-shaped intersection. Doesn’t sound special, yet just after arriving in Mach (as the locals like to call it) one is struck by the sight of  the trademark of Machynlleth – a grand tower clock build during the 1870s to commemorate the coming of age of Charles Stweart Vane-Tempest, the oldest son of George Vane-Tempest the 5th Marquess of Londonderry (anyone still around?)
We pass by the clock and move through the crowded streets in the search of a pharmacy and some breakfast, grabbing fresh fruit from the farmer’s market.
Crappy weather as seen from behind the window curbs our enthusiasm. Unfortunately, emptiness shines through the plates, tea is long getting cold in our stomachs and today’s goal won’t come to us by it’s own. Our minimum for the day is eating all the strawberries and getting to the Nant Syddion bothy.
We leave Mach singing in the rain to face a massive climb  just behind the town border. As we go our cladding layers get fewer and cheeks get redder. Luckily it’s all tarmac, otherwise we would be pushing. At the top we run out of a regular road and rain started pouring on us good.

This is the way they smile, honest!
We stop for some strawberries and a parley where a tree offers us some dubious protection from all the rain. Does it rain? It sure does! Waterproofs on! How far do we have? Far! Any strawberries left? No? Ok, lets go! Glyndwrs Way is waiting.
Leaving our leaved friend behind we head for a nearby farm where our path leads. The track gets softer by the minute, and having entered grassy hills doesn’t improve our situation. When we get to our first gate we’re greeted by a padlock and a plate informing us that the trail is closed. We opt for a detour along a nearby footpath leading past Glanmerin. Surface is just a bit worse but we manage to stay on our bikes most of the way.
The next  gate meant new trouble for us. We were just about to enter a pasture and rejoin the original trail when a cattle family showed interest in us. Cows weren’t a problem so far – maybe because we didn’t meet any. The main reason of our concern was the head of the family – a huge white bull. He was definitely interested in what the heck we were doing on HIS pasture, and most probably in what we had for supper last night as well. For each step ahead the bull answered with two steps heading in our direction. Each step back equaled one bull-step towards us. These mathematics we quite obvious to us. We slowly traced our steps back behind the gate to judge our position from a safe spot.

It wasn’t long before the ungulates were at the gate guarding access to the trail. None of us felt like male-bonding with the bull and so we took another detour through a nearby meadow. After a couple of minutes of wading through knee high, wet grass followed by bushwacking and a stream crossing we were back on the trail. The bull will never find out what we ate the other day.
The trail turned into quite ridable stuff, to top things of it seized to rain and we could finally enjoy all the views around us. After traversing one of the hills we pass a gate, what’s just opened to us could be described in one way: green tunnel. Trees and bush hugged the trail’s sides, forming walls of green collapsing above our heads, wheels spinning on hardly visible doubletrack, tires disappearing into thick grass – a sign the trail hasn’t been used for a while. It’s all downhill yet, I don’t even have to touch the brakes, riding in the middle through tall grass does the stopping for me. Fortunately once the going gets uphill the track widens and surface turns into regular gravel.

After reaching the other side of the hill we get to see the first signs telling us we’re about to enter Mid Wales. Forests give way to barren moorlands and mountains turn into rolling hills.
Radek riding past Lynn Penrhaeadr.
The path is leading us along the Syfydrin mtb trail, from now on the surface is all hardpack with some technical treats from time to time. Although it’s rather wide we have to pick our lines which makes our riding that much enjoyable. Add an odd puddle here and there and you’re in Wales.

Ponterwyd is the last town before reaching the bothy, a good place to stop for a meal. We order some burgers (in your face Mr. Bull!) and smooth ales. The evening was slowly creeping in, clouds hanging low, reluctantly letting in the last of sunshine. Time to head home.

The fact that the bothy was not far away boosted our morale, even more so as the weather didn’t look any good for the coming hours. 
Nant Sydion is located at a forest service road and offers not only a dry place to sleep but also two big “living” rooms, each with a fire place – perfect for drying our stuff.
Wood supply is short and so we have to go outside and face the midges. Some Englishmen also enjoying the solitude given by Nant Syddion help us to some tools. An ax with a warped blade and a toothless saw will have do the trick. Our neighbours join us on the endeavour. Once outside it doesn’t take long for the midges to spot us. These little creatures fly in big hoards and chew on every part of you that’s not covered. The bites are quite annoying and painful for the size, they leave itchy marks for a couple of days as well. Encouraged to work efficient we catch whatever we are able to gather or “chop” and run for cover in the warm premises of the bothy.
The rest of the evening is spent with drying, warming up, looking into the fire, listening to music and generally being happy that the midges are outside and we’re inside.



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