South Dartmoor CTC Album


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Tuesday 23 July 1985
Tour: South Wales
Day 2 St Briavels to Capel-y-Ffin
Hot and sunny
10 Participants: Simon Birtles, Steven Bowles, Daniel Coles, Brett Jamieson, Carl Jones, Michael Jones, Philip Mills, Adam Nice, Simon Warner, Tom Woodman
Following some ‘Krispy Kip’ the group woke early on a sunny Tuesday morning ready for the ride to the Black Mountains. Repairs to Daniel’s toe clips delayed departure until shortly after 10am, but this was nothing compared to the afternoon’s problems.

Things were fine at Monmouth where lunch, water bottles, shorts and headbands were purchased. There were even no problems on the way to Llantillio Crossenny, the lunch spot, except that the weather was hot and the hills were rather numerous. At lunch however Lumie’s rear brake cable broke. Shortly afterwards there was a water fight when Tom tried to steal Michael’s map without asking.

Then, about a kilometre down the road, Steven complained that his rear hub was loose. He complained so much that something had to be done, so Michael re-greased one side and locked it. The problem however was the freewheel side which could not be accessed or locked, and at Croes-Hywel he was complaining again. The noise became so persistent that Michael attempted to remove the Suntour freewheel with a Bicycle Research remover. He achieved the usual result of this manoeuvre – a broken remover – and spent the next half hour reassuring Steven that he COULD make it to Abergavenny and that there really would be a bike shop there, and that the bike COULD be repaired, and that he WOULDN’T have to take a train home from Abergavenny. But Steven remained unconvinced, much to everyone’s annoyance.

Steven did make it to Abergavenny. He bought a new wheel for just over £7 and appeared happy at last when it was finally fitted to his bike. Brett bought some toe clips, others bought caps and then there was a short ride to Llanfihangel Crucorney for much-needed refreshments.

The road to Capel-y-Ffin was delightful, if a little tiring. There was plenty of time for rest on this occasion, however, when Brett acquired a puncture near Llanthony and was encouraged to repair it himself. The remainder of the climb was exhausting in the early evening heat, but no-one complained (much).

The evening was spent enjoying the showers and hostel meals, climbing the mountain behind the hostel (Darren Lwyd) and fitting toe clips to certain cycles in a dark hay-barn – not a task to undertake if you’re likely to drop the nut! Before turning in for the night Simon Birtles somehow managed to convince some of the older lads that there was something horribly embarrassing about talking to the girl-guides downstairs. Simon gained considerable amusement from the situation.
Wednesday 24 July 1985
Tour: South Wales
Day 3 Capel-y-Ffin to Bryn Poeth Uchaf
Hot and sunny
10 Participants: Simon Birtles, Steven Bowles, Daniel Coles, Brett Jamieson, Carl Jones, Michael Jones, Philip Mills, Adam Nice, Simon Warner, Tom Woodman
Wednesday got off to a good start. Philip and Brett learned how to sweep a dormitory the hard way – by doing it over and over again until it was right.

Brett had another puncture (probably related to the first) and Super Shopper acquired six broken spokes whilst descending the long hill to Hay-on-Wye. There were no toy shops in Hay, but luckily there was a cycle dealer who reluctantly agreed to effect repairs. He couldn’t resist having a go at Simon however, stating that people usually buy Moultons to be different, as the small wheels are quite unsuitable for distance work!

A shop bearing the notice "In the interest of hygiene, no Hippies” caused considerable amusement amongst the youngsters who wasted no time informing Tom about its location. When Super Shopper had been loaded with the milk and everyone had bought lunch, supper and breakfast, lunch was consumed under the bridge at Hay before the afternoon’s forty-mile journey was traced out on the maps.

Progress to Bluith Wells via Glasbury and Boughrood was impeded only by a puncture in Michael’s rear puncture-proof tyre. It was, in fact, caused by the plastic rim tape, but no-one chose to believe that!

Afternoon tea at Bluith Wells was followed by some main road riding to Garth, along which Spratt rode into Carl and fell off. The lanes were taken to Llanwrtyd Wells via Llangammarch Wells, and a little further along Spratt rode into the stinging nettles to the side of the road and fell off. Then began the climb to Bryn Poeth Uchaf hostel, starting form the viaduct near Cycghordy and climbing steeply to Hafod-y-Pant. Flies, heat and hunger conspired together to make the journey less enjoyable than it should have been, but everyone finally made it to the warden’s farmhouse just after 7pm.

The hostel itself was another kilometre or so up the valley along a footpath. There was a ford along the way which several attempted, but only Carl managed to fall off halfway across and fill his panniers with water.

It was 7.45 when the group finally arrived at the tiny little hostel. Supper was frantically prepared (perhaps ‘thrown together’ would be a better description) and devoured. Some washed in the stream. There was a group walk over the hill providing lots of rough fun, and then a minor crisis at bedtime when Simon Warner discovered a 2cm gash in his knee, presumably acquired during one of his earlier tumbles. It was patched together, however, by gaslight and the rest of the night was uneventful.

Well not quite. Simon Birtles got so annoyed with Adam’s imaginative snoring that he spent half the night outside with the sheep and the rest on a hard bench in the kitchen.
Thursday 25 July 1985
Tour: South Wales
Day 4 Bryn Poeth Uchaf to Blaencaron
Very hot
10 Participants: Simon Birtles, Steven Bowles, Daniel Coles, Brett Jamieson, Carl Jones, Michael Jones, Philip Mills, Adam Nice, Simon Warner, Tom Woodman
Thursday was another eventful day. First of all Spratt fell off (again) on the way back to the farm. Then Daniel got a puncture. Then the warden kindly agreed to take Simon and Michael to Llandovery District Hospital with the bikes in the Land Rover to attend Simon’s wounds. Two stitches were administered and the doctor suggested that the wound should be re-dressed on Saturday at a hospital.

Meanwhile Tom and Simon Birtles alienated themselves still further from the youngsters by throwing mud at them back at the farm before leading them to Rhandirmwyn, where Simon W and Michael joined them for lunch. It really was sweltering outside the shop, but there was no escape, for Tom had chosen that particular moment to break his derailleur beyond repair. Postcards were written in the shade of a tree.

The gang eventually set off at around 2.30, Super Shopper loaded with milk bottles and sounding like a milk float. There were strains of “And he rode the fastest milk cart in the west” much to Ernie’s annoyance as the hills to Llyn Brianne reservoir were tackled bravely against all odds.

And what a sight the reservoir was. The overflow chute from the top of the dam looked like a gigantic water slide, and at the bottom was what must have been the largest garden sprinkler in the world. Even better views were afforded from the bridge at the top where the sheer enormity of the project became apparent.

There was just time for ice-creams (well there wasn’t, but everyone bought some anyway) before the track to the west of the reservoir was commenced. Daniel got a slow puncture almost immediately but delayed repairing it until Carl got his on the final descent to the road. Both were hurriedly repaired, Carl’s support crew beating Daniel’s with minutes to spare. Everyone regrouped towards the bottom, but where was Simon Birtles? Someone suggested he was probably collecting the empties along the way.

Then, despite a ten-second advance warning from Michael, Spratt came off on a gravelly corner and ended up in the stream. He was in need of some medication but he took it bravely without a whimper (well only a small one anyway).

It was getting late again and there were still some hills to climb. Telephone calls near Nant-y-maen gave an excuse for a short rest, but it was necessary to refuel at the top of the next hill by drinking half the milk – Simon was giving double stamps that week!

The descent to Tregaron was exhilarating but towards the bottom Spratt discovered something nasty in his saddle bag – margarine. He had kindly volunteered to carry the group margarine but unfortunately it had melted and was now .. everywhere! He wasn’t pleased.

Michael’s rim-tape caused another rear puncture at Tregaron. This time some insulating tape was used to permanently solve the problem against a background of jeers from people who still preferred to believe the tyre had been punctured.

The last straw was the climb to the hostel – not at all welcome at that time of night. Nonetheless everyone made it and there were soon cheery faces all round as food was prepared. Adam was offered the luxury of his own dorm that night, by general consensus. And the Welsh-speaking warden gave Spratt a sleeping-bag for the night, as his was drying out after being washed.
Friday 26 July 1985
Tour: South Wales
Day 5 Blaencaron To Tyncornel
10 Participants: Simon Birtles, Steven Bowles, Daniel Coles, Brett Jamieson, Carl Jones, Michael Jones, Philip Mills, Adam Nice, Simon Warner, Tom Woodman
Friday morning was misty. There were inner tubes to repair, saddle bags to clean out and midges to contend with. Provisions were bought at Tregaron before speeding along the valley to Llandewi Brefi. By this time a light drizzle had started, and while the group were buying chocolate from one of the shops a violent storm broke out overhead. Torrential rain, lightening and power cuts ensued for more than half an hour, and the kindly shopkeeper hadn’t the heart to turn them out. They did, of course, purchase a good many items of food whilst they were there, so he didn’t mind too much. In fact his wife even provided several of the youngsters with plastic bags to tie around their feet for the afternoon. What a sight!

The gang set off during a drier spell but the rain quickly came in again to ensure that everyone was soaked by the time they arrived at the start of the track to Tyncornel youth hostel – the most remote hostel in England and Wales according to the handbook. The track followed the hill a good way to Blaemloethie where everyone stopped – except Daniel who shot past like a bullet and didn’t come to rest until he had worn through the overshoes that Simon Birtles had lent him. He wasn’t looking too happy when the rest finally caught up with him at the bottom of the hill.

The rain stopped on arrival at the hostel at 3.30 and the sun came out. Thus began one of the most enjoyable evenings of the tour, as no-one else was booked in at the hostel.

A fire was quickly laid in and tea was brewed. There was a lovely atmosphere in the hostel; it really was just like home. The children played with the fire, and Brett got burned by standing on a hot poker.

Supper was a long drawn-out affair followed by criticism of Michael’s Welsh Rarebit by the ‘milkman’, who was having severe difficulties trying to find good enough material to combat the barrage of abuse that had been hurled at his precious bicycle. A few brave souls actually managed to wash some clothes before dark – with excellent results I might add – and the rest of the evening was spent around the fire, playing games of cheat and chess to the sound of heavy rain outside. The warden dropped in for five minutes at 9.30 but otherwise the group was left in peace.

Tilley lamps in the dorm provided some scope for ghost stories that night, ruined only by Tom who did his best to laugh at them.
Saturday 27 July 1985
Tour: South Wales
Day 6 Tyncornel to Llandeusant
Sunny start, damp later
10 Participants: Simon Birtles, Steven Bowles, Daniel Coles, Brett Jamieson, Carl Jones, Michael Jones, Philip Mills, Adam Nice, Simon Warner, Tom Woodman
Saturday morning was bright and sunny. There were a number of jobs to do before leaving, such as tightening Tom’s bottom bracket with a nail and stone, adjusting Brett and Adam’s brakes, etc. When the hostel was as spotless as we had found it (at about 11.30) we set off down the track.

Immediately there were problems, however. First an elastic strap got itself caught in Super Shopper’s gears. A little further on Daniel’s brake cable snapped. Further still and Adam’s right pedal fell apart. Eventually it was lunchtime and the group had just about managed to get back to Llandewi Brefi (again) where lunch was concocted out of a few odds and ends from the grocery shop and eaten on the wall outside, amidst the excitement of a cowboys and Indians show presented by some little boys from the village.

It was time to get a move on. The B4343 proved a pleasant enough route to Lampeter, from where the hilly A482 took the group to Llangadog and Llandovery by 4.29. The children immediately labelled the proprietor of the health shop a hippy and noticed how comfortable Tom felt in the shop!

When provisions had been purchased the drizzle began, so a café provided a comfortable setting for afternoon tea. Thomas was once again trying to be difficult by pouring out a third cup of tea just as everyone was ready to leave – so everyone did leave, and a couple of drunks came over and settled down next to Tom. Somehow Tom managed to finish his tea, bid his farewells and join the others outside in five seconds flat.

Adam, who had managed to drop a variety of different-sized objects through the holes in the rear pockets of his cycling shirt during the tour, had now been entrusted with a bottle of milk (there were no cartons available that day). Some would say this was a stupid thing to do – and I would agree, but there was a distinct lack of carrying space and ten pints had to be transported somehow. Sadly Adam’s pint didn’t last to the hostel; it didn’t even last to Llangadog! Neverthless some entertainment was derived from the incident, which was quite spectacular.

The final climb to Llandeusant (pronounced Khlan-day-sant) hostel was tortuous, and the drizzle wasn’t helping much. It was only after arrival, however, that the heavy rain started, so that was something to be thankful for.

Thomas, who had been complaining bitterly earlier in the afternoon about carrying the soap powder on the grounds that the scent might penetrate a plastic bag and box and contaminate his precious porridge oats, made more than a little fuss at supper time when his porridge began to froth. He spent much of the evening wandering around the kitchen with the bowl saying that it tasted of soap and asking everyone to verify the fact. A few, however, knew more about the porridge than they cared to tell and politely declined the invitation.

The rest of the evening was occupied with Philip’s headache, a blanket fight and Adam’s snoring – well, only Tom and Simon Birtles got upset about the latter, so much so in fact that they moved into the next dorm.
Sunday 28 July 1985
Tour: South Wales
Day 7 Llandeusant to Ystradfellte
Showers leading to rain
10 Participants: Simon Birtles, Steven Bowles, Daniel Coles, Brett Jamieson, Carl Jones, Michael Jones, Philip Mills, Adam Nice, Simon Warner, Tom Woodman
Sunday started with occasional showers. Another very late start, coupled with a wrong turning and a puncture (Steven’s this time) meant that the group got only as far as Nynydd Wysg by lunchtime. And the only food they had was chocolate bars and cakes bought at the Cross Inn.

Needless to say, lunch was a short affair, and hasty progress was made to the shops at Trecastle and Sennybridge – which were all closed! There was nothing to be done but head for the last hostel, Ystradfellte, where there was a shop that would be open on a Sunday. Brychgoed, however, was the site of yet another puncture; this time it was Philip, who had been crowing throughout the tour about how he hadn’t got a puncture.

The showers became heavier and more prolonged as the final hairpin climb to Bryn Melyn was tackled. But the weather gods saved the worst rain of all until the highest point had been reached. The group descended as quickly as visibility would allow, searching vainly for even the scraggiest-looking tree to shelter under. But it was all too late: trainers were overflowing.

The warden, Mrs Roberts, is an old-fashioned Welsh lady with a kind heart but a finicky nature which has led many youngsters to describe her as a ‘witch’. She immediately took charge of Philip’s headache whilst the rest visited the shop, tucking him into bed and getting him a hot drink. On return from the shop however she was dealing out rules and regulations like playing cards, all designed to make life as difficult as possible for carefree young boys.

The evening seemed to pass fairly uneventfully, mainly because the boys were out enjoying some of the magnificent waterfalls of the Melte Valley.
Friday 23 August 1985
Tour: Snowdonia National Park
Day2 Rowen to Idwal Cottage

23 miles
9 Participants: Andrew Billington, Chris Hall, Jonathan Israel, Michael Jones, David Parry, Stephen Parry, Jeremy Paul, Rebecca Small, Paul Williams
Our route today took us southwards along the Conwy vallwey to Betws-y-Coed, then east past the Swallow falls to Capel Curig. We then rode up to Llyn Ogwen and then down the valley to the hostel at Idwal Cottage.
Saturday 24 August 1985
Tour: Snowdonia National Park
Day 3 Idwal Cottage to Pen-y-Pas

12 miles
9 Participants: Andrew Billington, Chris Hall, Jonathan Israel, Michael Jones, David Parry, Stephen Parry, Jeremy Paul, Rebecca Small, Paul Williams
Today we rode to Pen-y-Pas hostel, probably via Capel Curig so that we stayed deep inside the national park. The hostel is located at the base of Snowdon and an easy path to the summit provided plenty of entertainment for those taking part in the afternoon / evening walk.
Monday 26 August 1985
Tour: Snowdonia National Park
Day 5 Ffestiniog to Kings
Probably cloudy with damp spells
30 miles
9 Participants: Andrew Billington, Chris Hall, Jonathan Israel, Michael Jones, David Parry, Stephen Parry, Jeremy Paul, Rebecca Small, Paul Williams
Today we rode down the Dwyryd valley to Harlech where we spent some time exploring Harlech Castle. We then continued south to Barmouth and then inland to Kings yout hostel.
Tuesday 27 August 1985
Tour: Snowdonia National Park
Day 6 Kings to Borth
Probably wet
33 miles
9 Participants: Andrew Billington, Chris Hall, Jonathan Israel, Michael Jones, David Parry, Stephen Parry, Jeremy Paul, Rebecca Small, Paul Williams
Today's ride took us through Dolgellau and then up a long clim before descending past the Alternative Energy Centre (which we probably stopped to look at) to Machynlleth. The final miles to the hostel at Borth were generally flat or downhill.
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