Day 8 – 8 July

Made it!

In swirling mist and a chilly NW wind, 
   
we waved a fond final farewell to what we could see of Snowdon

and then struggled through a tangle of roads, to reach and cross  
  
the Menai Bridge on to Anglesey, there to touch the water of the 
Irish Sea as we had that of the Atlantic on day 0 (qv).
BIRDS seen on this trip:
Mallard
Pheasant H
Grey Heron
Buzzard
Red Kite
Sparrowhawk
Kestral
Moorhen
Coot
Black Headed Gull
Herring Gull
Lesser Black backed Gull
Rock Dove
Woodpigeon
Swift
Skylark
Swallow
House Martin
Pied Wagtail
Meadow Pipit
Wren
Dunnock
Robin
Redstart
Stonechat
Wheatear
Blackbird
Great tit
Blue tit
Magpie
Jackdaw
Raven
Rook
Crow
Goldfinch
Chaffinch
Greenfinch
Linnet
Mute Swan
Coal tit
Redshank H
Oyster Catcher H
Greater Black Backed Gull
Cormorant

Some important messages.   

We are indebted to Christo for an extraordinary degree of planning, that provided us all with a lot more exercise than we’d expected and a wonderful introduction to inner Wales.  We’re glad to report that Ben’s leg wound is healing nicely, which is just as well, as he plans to sail across the Atlantic in November (as you do).  Our trip has been beautifully supervised, supported and encouraged by Glynis, whom we likened to a genie for her uncanny capacity to materialize exactly where and when we needed her, and we didn’t even need to rub a bottle.  Liz has proved the value of e-biking as a means of silent, inexpensive, non-polluting, traffic-passing, uphill bike-beating, open-air exercise.  Malcolm disgraced himself again by falling from vertical to horizontal among astonished shoppers near Holyhead: in attempting to dismount, his shorts snagged the saddle, and rider and steed toppled over as one.  No paving stones or bones broken.  Peg must have the last word.  She out-rode all non-e bikers and out-climbed all non-e walkers; and she will soon be back in Mozambique, grateful for the generosity of all who have contributed – or may yet do so – to the community health programme in which LAHOW has been privileged to play a small part.

A fond farewell to all our readers!  And a big Thanks for your patience.

For more about the Mozambique work and needs, or to donate, go to:

                                    https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lahow

 

 

Advertisements

Day 7 – 7 July

The ‘HOW’ of LAHOW – SNOWDON!

The mighty King Arthur: he slew Rhita, a great and terrible giant.  When his warriors cast stone and stone upon him, they created this mountain.

You ask: Did the clouds clear and the sun smile down on your ascent?  No on both counts.  Rain?  Well, only misty drizzle.  Wind?  Only up to 35 mph, but on the lower slopes we were sheltered by the mountain.  Were you the only ones up there?  Not exactly – see below.   In a word?  Fabulous. Both wonderful and painful to make use of new muscle groups.  Every member of the party made it to the top, none using either e-power or fossil fuels.

 

   

Wainwright strides again –                                           He contemplates the hills,

and heads off up the Pyg track
      

Helpful local forecast. Right on all counts except one: there were indeed intervals, but they were not sunny.

   

Sinister characters on the desolate summit, some unable to stand without support.

The famous Summit cafe.  We puzzled why so many took the train up only to see nothing, to have coffee in a spot that could’ve been anywhere, and to go home again. Triumph of hope over likelihood?

    

Most joyful moment of the day: Glynis and Liz arrive at the Summit cafe, fearing that the Lahow party may have moved on down some other way, while the said party is fearing that Glynis and Liz may be missing, possibly for ever… when suddenly faces light up as all see each other through the throng, and it dawns on the newly arrived that they can after all have a bowl of soup.  (Naturally they had no money).

THE DESCENT

   

Having come up the Pyg track, we descended via the Miners’ Track, in places a well-built stone structure along which miners used to carry their tools and products (copper, iron).

      

Old pole crammed with coins; and a public-space artwork made of copper and iron and watercolours, designed to turn in the wind and change its surface with the batterings of time

Tomorrow’s road 

For more about the Mozambique work and needs, or to donate, go to:

                                    https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lahow

Day 6 – 6 July

A young river Wye with a long long way to go

   

A gloomy start leaving Bala.          But the day soon brightened up

   Sheep have shown no interest in us, but cattle rush up to admire the bike

Delegates on the way to a conference on ‘Brexit: what’s in it for us?’ The road is steeper than it looks.  Happily all brakes were functioning.

AND THERE IS SNOWDON!
     – Well, it is there, but shrouded in cloud behind the nearer peak on the right.  Will it be clear for tomorrow’s (now today’s) climb?  We are about to find out, after a night in a roadside pub call Pen Y Gwryd, ‘a classic mountaineers lodge where Hillary and Tenzing trained for the conquest of Mount Everest.’  (No, not that Hillary).  We’ll be in their footsteps (not in hers).

To donate to Mozambique health work: http://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lahow

Day 5 – 5 July

Around the dams

Huge Victorian dams and reservoirs are spread around this central part of Wales, and there is a profusion of tiny roads linking and encircling them.  The water provides, we are told, the water for the city of Birmingham: it flows all the way there by gradual descent under gravity, taking 8 days (95% confidence interval 3-13) to get there in a six-foot metal pipe.

   

Outflow from one of the 6 dams  –               and a close-up of the foaming surface

Riding here has involved many of those spectacular narrow roads.  Our route-finder, who is also a part-time sadist, has chosen the highest and smallest tracks. His view of ‘Height’ in LAHOW is to get up there as often as possible.  We had one road with 11 steep-uphill arrows on the OS map, within 2km.  The descent was 12 miles of hectic switchback.

    

Note LAHOB members racing ahead, max speed recorded 43.6 mph.    The sheep:’You guys are deranged.’
A word or two is now needed about the e-bikeOn the e-bike, you get no power-support unless you pedal – and then only if you ask for it (for the p-s that is). LIZ has done the whole journey, except for those 2km, either free-wheeling downhill, or pedalling without power, or pedalling with power-help (which comes in 4 strengths).  Her maximum recorded speed on the downhill glides is 39.9 MPH (64 kph).  This is even faster than she used to walk up the long corridors of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Blantyre, Malawi, but doubtless the effort devoted to the latter made her ready for this.  At every lunch or coffee spot we visit (very few of course), we charge the battery, and it has never run out of power.  Malcolm took the e-bike up the 11-arrow hill, sacrificing generously his opportunity to prove he could ride up on the ordinary bike. ‘It’s no doddle, is it?’ said Liz.  In fact it was very hard work, and at the steepest point he had to get off and push.

Day 4 – 4 July

Congratulations to USA, from the LAHOW team.

We’ve got to hand it to Christo.  He’s just a simple route-finder, given to moroseness and long periods of silence, but he knows his job.  Yesterday’s route was by common consent among the finest any of us can remember.

And we were bathed in golden sunshine and caressed by a gentle breeze

 

By general agreement GORDON was hero of the day.  He had not ridden a bike much at all for years, but came out and gave it his best.  We were all worried that he was finding it just too easy, but luckily some of the steeper hills defeated him, but hey, there’s a future in cycling for this guy, and we’re also delighted that he has surpassed his fundraising target.
      

(1) Gordon on bridge ….                       and (2) collapsed after a hill (not for long)

 

Day 3 – 3 July

The hazards you encounter…

 

…but Peg meets similar obstacles in Mozambique (a), and we had non-watery blockages on our ride too (b, above).

AND THEN….

We were proceeding at 25 mph along a slightly downhill part of the A40 (unusual size of road for us, but lunch beckoned) when our Ben decided to glance back.  This act induced a wobble, the front tyre caressed the curb, and Ben described a spectacular somersault to the left, sustaining wounds on his head and on each leg, but no bone broken. M and E following close behind had front-row seats at no cost.  Ben’s Guardian Angel had arranged this to happen where the grass verge was luxuriant (see i below) and not somewhere else (eg a few yards further on, ii).  We wondered whether the GA might have taken preventive action a few moments earlier, but who are we….

   

(i) where Ben fell                                  (ii) where he might have fallen

Other scenes of the day (1) surprise; (2) shining armour without knight , Llandovery; (3) haunt of swallows, where Christo mentioned that swifts don’t touch ground for 4 years.

      

          (1)                                             (2)                            (3)
GORDON and CHRISTINE Molyneux joined the peleton and motorcade respectively.  A pleasure thus to enhance the party!

 

Day 2 – 2 July

Magnificent St David’s Cathedral (1311-1910 – over this period the original was frequently rebuilt or restored)

Immediately to the west of the cathedral is the Bishop’s Palace (14th century), lacking tons of lead roofing removed by Oliver Cromwell’s forces (17th C) as they pursued the concept of a Commonwealth of England. [Now we know better].
For today’s Welsh lessons

    

(i) work it out                                                             (ii) means The stone of the Cross
WELL PLAYED WALES!!  Today we shall share loud cheers with all we come 
across, in recognition of the magnificent win against Belgium last 
night.  Please do not think that our enthusiasm will have ulterior 
motives such as hope for a free drink or 50% off the price of carrot 
cake.

Yesterday on the way to St David's we battled heavy rain and a strong
westerly wind, buoyed by the knowledge that the wind would blow us all 
the way back in the afternoon, as indeed it did - with the bonus of 
almost continuous sunshine, unpredicted by the BBC.  Hope they're 
wrong today too.