My route took me from the A5 down the A494, past the lake at Bala and through the southern reaches of the Snowdonia National Park; the scenery was lovely and I could have stopped several times to take photos but if I did that I would never get to where I was going so I resisted temptation. At the end of the A494 I reached the A470 and a slight dilemma - a sign pointed left to Barmouth but also straight on to the same place. Which way was best? I chose left down the A493, and later on was glad I did. Another couple of miles took me to a sharp right hand turn down a short lane to a wooden bridge over a river; there was a toll charge of 70p to drive across the bridge but it was worth it for the surrounding scenery. Unfortunately I couldn't just stop as there were other cars behind me but I'd noticed a small car park nearby so I would make a point of going back that way later on.
The lane from the toll bridge joined the A496 which ran alongside the Mawddach estuary and into Barmouth, and a couple of miles from the town itself was a long roadside lay-by so I pulled in there for a few minutes - the views across the estuary were just too good to miss out on a few shots.
The road took me straight into Barmouth and following the signs I came to a large sea front car park; that would do nicely so I found a space, got a ticket from the machine and with the dogs on the lead set off to explore. Across the road a wide sandy beach interspersed with low dunes stretched to the right as far as the eye could see; to the left was a jetty and the little harbour so that's where I headed for, and photography-wise I wasn't disappointed. Even though the tide was out there was still some water in the bay, and with many colourful boats anchored up or beached on the sand I got several nice shots.
On the way into the town I'd spotted a grassy area at the side of the road which would make a good vantage point over the estuary and the railway bridge so from the jetty I headed along the road past the harbour and back to the place I'd seen, then with another couple of shots taken I retraced my steps and went in search of a cafe - it was time for coffee and cake.
Unfortunately it seemed that a sunny bank holiday weekend rendered Barmouth's harbourside and sea front a very popular place to be and I hadn't a cat in hell's chance of getting a table at a cafe where I could sit outside with the dogs, so I went back to the car park and put them in the van. Even though it was sunny there was a cool breeze blowing, so with the windows open a couple of inches and the van in the shade I knew they would be okay for a short while.
Just off the harbour and away from most of the hustle and bustle was the main shopping street so I decided to have a look up there. Many of the shops were closed but I finally found Goodies tea room, and with no customers in there I had my choice of tables. I ordered carrot cake and a latte coffee and both were excellent, in fact I was so impressed with the coffee that I had a second cup. With the inner woman satisfied I returned to the van and released the dogs then took a walk along the promenade. A small but colourful fairground and a few gift shops and cafes were followed by another large car park and rows of hotels, guest houses and private bungalows so I didn't walk too far before heading back to the van - it was only 4.15 but I wanted to get back to that toll bridge while the sunshine was still good.
It cost another 70p to drive back across the bridge, and with the van parked up I took the dogs and went on a quest for some more photos. A single track road near the end of the bridge ran for a short distance along by the river and a pub/restaurant and hotel looked out across the water to the hills on the far side. It was a lovely little spot with great views and I was glad that I'd chosen to take that left turn earlier on - if I'd gone straight on I would never have known about it.
Those should have been the last photos of the day as time was getting on and I didn't want to be too late getting back to the tent, but as I was driving past Bala lake I noticed a camp site which seemed to go right down to the water's edge so I pulled in, parked up just outside the entrance and went to take a look. It was a big site with a mixture of statics, tourers and tents and the camping field did indeed go right down to a sand and shingle beach at the lakeside; no-one bothered me as I walked round, and with a handful of shots which were definitely the last ones of the day I returned to the van and completed my journey back to Felin Uchaf with no further stops.
Back at the tent I made a brew and something to eat then passed the time until dusk doing the crosswords in a magazine. With the dogs walked just before it went dark I settled them in their beds and retreated to mine with my book for the rest of the evening. I'd had a really good day, the weather had got better and better as the day went on and I'd got some good photos; fingers crossed that the following day would turn out to be just as good.