170824-Where Now

I’ve always known Monday was a bank holiday. . .

This morning, I left my bicycle at the hostel to go explore Caernarfon. Another castle constructed by Master Mason James of St. George. Caernarfon Castle is impressive, but not as nice as the castles the past couple of days. But by any other standard it’d be fantastic.

After shopping for a few groceries, I headed out of town, up towards Snowdonia and the associated pass. Given that I had a lot of climbing ahead of me, I limited the amount of food/weight I purchased.

Halfway to the pass I came to Dolbadarn Castle. A ruin on a hill, still interesting. I had lunch with a great view. But by the time I resumed course was 1 pm, and I’d cycled a total of 11 km for the day.

Unsure whether I would make it to Harlech Castle before it closed (a now recurring problem) I headed upwards. From there I had a long climb up the mountains. Two sport cyclists passed me with the comment of, “I don’t envy you” as I climbed. And climbed. And climbed. Before eventually reaching the pass, 300 m above where I started. While much of the day from there was gradual downhill, I still had a long way to go, and I could tell I wouldn’t make Harlech Castle in time. I would need a campground nearby.

The chain on my bicycle has needed oil. I’ve been telling myself I’d stop at the next bicycle shop I came across, so when I came across one I stopped and picked up oil. Sometimes they lube my bicycle for free (the bicycle tourist discount) but that doesn’t typically happen in tourist regions, and indeed not this time. I should probably carry more oil starting out; I always end up needing oil mid-tour.

From there I started seeking a campground near Harlech. I passed one by for another a few kilometers closer to Harlech. Arriving at that campground they said their facilities were really basic (no showers or Wi-Fi). The next campground indicated on the GPS was 10 km past Harlech.  So, despite hating going backwards, I retreating to the earlier campground. It’s nice, if expensive. They were a bit brusque at registration, and it sounded like the campground was full. Strange.

Low on food with no market nearby, I ate at the small cafe (more like a food truck) at the campground. There I met Gemma. When she found out I was cycle touring she became very excited. She has a cycling trip planned for next week to cycle along Hadrian’s Wall. She kept saying how jealous she was of me for having a long trip. Upon learning this wasn’t my first trip, she became even more exuberant. About that time she pointed out that perhaps she was just a little bit drunk, having had a fair amount of gin earlier. She finished her dinner and headed off for another drink.

Having been at the campground a few days, Gemma had become friends with Laura, the chef in the food truck. When Gemma left I continued talking with Laura. It wasn’t until chatting with Laura that it hit me. Monday is a bank holiday. It’s the middle of tourist season. I’m in a heavily touristed region. The weather is gorgeous. And it’s a four day weekend. I’d been planning on making sure I had cash and groceries for Monday when everything was closed. But I hadn’t planned on the potential of absolutely everything not having any vacancies. Usually I can talk my way into a campground with my small tent, but this campground is only permitted a fixed number of tents, regardless of size.

I had come up with a plan before dinner of where I might stay tomorrow, and what the alternates would be. But it was a moderately aggressive plan, with the core assumption that if something wasn’t there, the next thing would be. Not that places might have no vacancies.

Laura was helpful, and offered to make some calls for me in the morning. I found a hostel in the right area, and Laura gave me the campground phone to call them, but no response. Likely because it was 9 pm, and that’s late here. Time to go see if I can develop a better plan.


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