The day started cool and cloudy but forecast to improve. We took the back road through Cradoc and Battle then up through Merthyr Cynog and over the Eppynt range, much of which is used for Army exercises. We cycled west through the remote town of Llangammarch Wells and the better known Llanwrtyd Wells, centre for the annual World Bog Snorkelling Championships. Competitors from around the world don wetsuits, masks and flippers to race through a 60 yard peaty bog – this bizarre pusuit is described as being akin to swimming through treacle!
On through a lovely wooded steep-sided valley before turning off along a track. We decided to take a short cut to avoid a long circuitous route along a forest road. Big mistake! This deteriorated into a rutted sunken track, with muddy, slimy standing water for long sections and crossed several times by a river, thankfully not too deep. Whilst avoiding the first pool, my leg sank deep into a bog, after which I no longer cared about getting wet but ploughed on through regardless of conditions. The longer route would have been much quicker and drier.
Eventually we rejoined the main track and continued up and down through the forest. The promised sunshine had failed to appear and the weather became steadily gloomier through the day.
We hit tarmac just before reaching the remains of the Cistercian abbey at Strata Florida. It had closed for the day and we pressed on to Devils Bridge with some monster hills to close with. We stayed at the Hafod Arms hotel, which once hosted George Borrow on his epic 19th century walking tour described in Wild Wales. The hotel had seen better days but dinner in the hotel restaurant was surprisingly good.