I woke quite early and lay in my tent for a while. There was a tapping noise and my initial reaction was to wonder what Charlotte was up to in her tent. However, as my mind became more focussed I realised that the sound was coming from higher up.
I unzipped my inner tent and then the door zip in the fly sheet. I watched the oak trees near our tents and then ascertained the source of the sound: it was a greater spotted woodpecker, behaving like a tree creeper. It was patrolling the tree’s boughs looking for insects, tapping every so often to remove a flake of bark so that it could reach the creature underneath. It occurred to me that it was the first time in my life that I had seen a greater spotted woodpecker before it had seen me. They are quite easily alarmed and are most frequently seen at the top of tall trees emitting their alarm call.
During our packing up process I caught Charlotte out.
I remarked on how skilled she was with her she-wee. However, she was merely emptying her water carrier.
We made for Aberystwyth along the A487, which was fast, fairly busy and not pleasant. There was rain in the air and we had no great desire to rush on into bad weather, so we took a look around the town and then locked our bicycles by the Constitution Hill funicular railway and took it to the top of the hill where we visited the Camera Obscura and the café. Charlotte took advantage of a power point and charged her various devices.
We left Aberystwyth on the old railway path, which takes you out of the town to the south without the hindrance of traffic but we stayed on it perhaps a bit too long and Charlotte, who is more accustomed to bashing out the miles, was unhappy with the surface, even though the trip along the Ystwyth was very pretty.
It was unclear where we would camp tonight: I had a plan that perhaps some wild camping up by the Teifi Pools might be in order, but the weather was closing in and somehow being in the clouds some 1500′ above sea level whilst trying to cook our dinner didn’t have a great deal of romantic appeal about it. We headed for Bont (the local name for Pontrhydfendigaid), found a pub and had a confabulation.
We asked the landlord of the Black Lion about camp sites. There were two marked on the map, but one had become a designated site for static caravans and the other had closed down. He said we could camp in the pub garden. Not only that, he would look after our luggage if we wanted a pre-dinner unladen trip up to the Teifi pools. All this seemed like too good an opportunity to miss, so we locked our panniers away in an outer bar and off we set.
It was lovely being able to cycle unladen again and it did help a great deal, but we still seemed to take an age to ride from Bont to the pools. It’s probably not a lot more than 5 miles, but involves almost 1000′ of climbing so it took us at least an hour and when we got there our decision not to camp there seemed vindicated. It was very overcast, quite breezy and we didn’t see anywhere that was flat enough for us to pitch a couple of tents.
It took us hardly any time to get back to the pub – certainly not more than 20 minutes – and we pitched the tents in the garden and then settled down to a nice pub meal in the warm. We both ate well and I went, feeling completely knackered, to pay the bill. I was charged £50 which seemed a bit steep but I didn’t really question it until Charlotte pointed out that it was probably about £20 overpriced. When I challenged the landlord he said, feebly, that the breakdown was in the bin. I told him that I knew exactly what we’d had to which his retort was “You’re not accusing me of swindling you, are you?” I interpreted this as saying that I could challenge him if I liked but we might be turfed out of the garden at about 10.30 at night with nowhere to find a bed. He offered me coffees and large quantities of Penderyn whisky in lieu. It was not a position I enjoyed being in, so I accepted this offer but, given the quantity of whisky he allegedly gave us and my lack of hangover the following day, I’m pretty sure it was the homeopathic variety.
We packed away wet tents quite early the following morning.