Well,today was going to be a Ural day with the two Ural Blondes but plans changed. Having the day to myself I decided to get some more miles on my recently bought Royal Enfield 500 Woodsman which I`m still running in. Breakfast in Bala is always a good start to the day,seeing as it makes for a great ride along twisty and often traffic free backroads if you use my 'secret route' into North Wales and it also lands you on the edge of the wonderfully scenic Snowdonia National Park. I was out on the Enfield by 06.30....and it was a tad cooler than I expected.....brrr. I think the cold must have got to my head because a mental abberration led to me riding into Denbigh,totally off my planned route. Daft sod. I pulled into a layby and took opportunity to thaw my hands out while deciding on an alternative breakfast venue. A few moments later a car pulled in and the occupants were looking at me rather suspiciously. I kept them in view with my mirror until I heard a door open and saw a lady approaching me very slowly. At first I thought she wanted to borrow my map....but she said they had been driving past and seen me motionless astride the bike ....and they had come back in case I`d stopped because I was unwell. How marvellous was that ? I thanked her and explained that I was simply 'amending' my route and thawing my hands out.....she had a chuckle,returned to the car,and off they both drove. Faith in humankind restored,I consulted the OS map and decided to detour through the lovely Clocaenog Forest past Lyn Brenig ('Lyn' means lake in Welsh,you see boyo) and down to Cerrigydrudion...then onwards to Bala. I`m glad I went this way because the sun was rising,making for fantastic shafts of light against the dark forest,and I could smell the pines. See...the sun really does shine on the righteous....heh heh. Got to Bala in good time and had a massive 'Bala Breakfast' with a mug of coffee. After the feast,I decided to take the Enfield along one of my favourite routes in North Wales.......around the southern side of Lyn Tegid (also simply called Bala Lake) until the turrning for Dinas Mawddwy and up the Pass of the Cross. The Pass of the Cross....Bwlch y Groes ... is the highest road pass in North Wales and is simply stunning to ride . This route starts as a simple,narrow,single carriageway lane winding behind the lake then starts climbing...and climbing...over two cattlegrids...and climbs some more. It narrows down quite a bit and becomes effectively two strips of tarmac the width of car tyres with grass and gravel between. Add to that loose sheep...no verges...no runoff area and not many fences,and it makes for a great ride! Here we are on part of the ascent.... Not one car (or tractor...phew!) was encountered from start to finish today,but oncoming vehicles can add somewhat to the thrill levelsI! The scenery is stunning and it`s surprising just how high up you are at times.... We`re past all the trees now...and it`s starting to level out a bit... I said it was starting to level out a bit.....but there`s still more climbing to do...... I`d decided on the way up that I`d take a left turning after the Pass of the Cross viewpoint carpark and ride over the moorland to Lyn Efyrnwy (Lake Vyrnwy) where I would ride across the dam to a very nice tea shop. However,when I`m out this way,I can`t ever resist a quick blat down the massive downhill drop into Llanymawddwy (these spellings are Welsh and are for real by the way !). This is so steep that you feel gravity accelerating you down the slope...beware the loose sheep and the double hairpin bend at the bottom! Here`s the Enfield on the way back up.... After this it was a pleasant ride over to Lyn Vyrnwy and through the forest to the dam. Riding through the forest always make me think of my Alpine trips...the air is so clean and pine scent hangs about. These are magical moments for me...no traffic,no cameras,no rush,no hassle. Another gratuitous forest/tree/bike photo....hey,it`s called a Woodsman,isn`t it ? Get ready to play The Dambusters March....the theme tune to the film.....because we`re at the dam. Silly,I know,but I always end up humming the tune while riding across and wanting to watch the movie when I get home! Once you`ve crossed the dam,if you turn left and travel about 100yards,there`s a lovely tea shop set back from the road. So,a pleasant half hour was spent sitting in the sun,day dreaming. Refreshed and relaxed,it was back to the dam for a few more photos,. The dam is fantastic and the resulting lake contains drinking water for Birkenhead and Birmingham....a 70 mile run with no pumping stations along it,so good was the Victorian engineering design. After this I rode a diagonal cross country route to Llangollen including a now compulsory stop at the Ponderosa Cafe atop the Horseshoe Pass for a cream scone and a mug of coffee......i didn`t take any more photos because the day became totally misty and overcast from that point homewards. Ladies and gentlemen,we hope you`ve had a pleasant journey and we thank you for travelling with Royal Enfield Airways. Your pilot for the day was Tarka.