The summer made a brief appearance over the UK with a couple for days of nice warm weather so it was initiate #BAMfatbike2018 making this 4/4/ The area I picked is steeped in history as it was once the largest open slate quarry in the world. Slate put Wales on the map was shipped to every corner of the globe. The quarry stopped working in 1969 after nearly 200 years of hard work. So it was great to ride fat bikes on the tracks that were used by the workers even before the bike was invented. Every time I ride here it just gets you thinking what it must have been like to live and work on the mountain back then, it’s a really emotional place.
My friend, John ‘FreakyChurchill’ joined me for this one this month. After getting fed in a local café we made our way to the slate museum which has a great display of the tools they forged for the work on the mountainside. All the artifacts inside are from the quarry with some fine looking displays on what the skilled workers did with some of the slates. The sun was beating down as we started our 1500 foot climb along the old tracks, at times we passed over some of the narrow gauge rail tracks which was used for transporting the slate down to the coast. Wild mountain goats were roaming the hillside looking for food as we steadily made our way through each of the levels. We passed slate cottages where some of the craftsmen lived and you can still see their names and the villages they came from etched in the slate by the entrances. It’s at that time you feel the emotion of the place, people lived their lives here, we were now riding our bikes so that we could spend the night looking at the views they once did. The going was tough with the loaded bikes but we steadily got higher. At one point John saw something glistening in the sun and with closer inspection, we found an old pair of spectacles! Again the brain kicked in as to who was the last person to have looked through those lenses?
We got to our camp spot early in the evening. We were near the top of the quarry so we had a view to die for. As the sun set the view of the nearby mountains changed with every new shadow cast. We got a fire going as I stashed some firewood there a few days earlier. Steak was on the menu for me which I cooked on a piece of dressed slate over the fire. I also had a tin of potatoes which warmed nicely and all washed down with a nice bottle of red. The evening sky was perfectly clear with luckily no wind. One of the mountains in our view was Snowdon, which is Wales’s highest and we could see the torchlight of those making an evening ascent.
After a good chat around the fire John settled into his tent and I got under my tarp where I slept soundly thanks to the evenings beverages.
The morning started with a bit of a breeze blowing which made us feel the chill before the sun rose and warmed us up. After a bit of a clear up, we had the easy ride down the mountainside along the track we climbed the day before.
So #BAMfatbike2018 is now going well at 4/4
Like you say Jeff, stunning area steeped in history. Looking forward to the rest of the ‘bivvy per month’ episodes.
Thanks Pete, I’m sure the year will just get better and better!