Having eventually got through the bottleneck I continued along the road but with no castle in sight I realised I must have somehow missed it and gone too far, though I hadn't seen any more brown signs. Unfortunately the road was too narrow to turn round safely without risking something else coming along and hitting me so I carried on in the hope of finding a lay-by but there was nothing anywhere. I must have gone four or five miles in the wrong direction before I came to a junction with the A496 which, if I turned left, would take me back towards Harlech - I almost said "sod it" and turned right but going to the castle was one of the main aims of the day and I wasn't going to be beaten.
As I approached Harlech for the second time I could see the castle on top of a rocky outcrop high above the road and eventually I arrived at the same fork in the road as before. Turning back onto the B road I drove along slowly looking for another brown sign but there was nothing, so pulling into a car park set back on the right I found a cool shady spot under some overhanging trees, got a ticket for an hour and went across to a shop opposite to ask directions. A five minute walk along the road took me through the town centre, and just past the shops a lane on the left took me down the hill to where the castle was at the bottom - I'd finally found it, but at no time did I see any brown 'castle' signs anywhere. It seemed that the one right back at the fork in the road was the only one, in which case I can imagine I'm not the first person to have trouble finding the castle.
With only an hour on the car park ticket I didn't spend as long in the castle as I could have done - I really enjoyed climbing up and down the spiral staircases in the towers but the highlight of the visit just had to be the fantastic views from the top of the outer walls. On my way out I just had time to stop for a quick coffee and cake in the bright modern cafe then I returned to the van and gave the dogs a short walk round the car park before setting off on the next part of my journey.
Back on the A496 I headed northwards; I had no clear idea of where I was going or where I would end up, just that I was working my way round in a huge circle to eventually end up back at Bala. Leaving civilisation behind the road ran close to the Afon Dwyryd for quite a distance and as I rounded a bend I came across another view worth stopping for. In the early evening sunlight it looked really lovely so pulling up the van I hopped over the roadside crash barrier and took a couple of shots looking upriver towards Maentwrog.
Eventually the A496 joined the A487 and then the A470 which took me back in a southerly direction, and my next stop was made at Llyn Trawsfynydd. A single track lane led from the road down to a car park with an outdoor centre and cafe, and though both were closed by then there were still a couple of families at the lake side and some kids having fun in the water. A track behind the outdoor centre took me to a jetty where a few fishing dinghies were tied up, and with another few shots taken I retraced my steps back to the van.
Close to the south end of the lake I turned onto the A4212 which would eventually take me back to Bala, and my final stop was made near the end of Llyn Celyn. It had gone 7pm by then and I was losing the best of the evening sunlight so it was only a very brief stop, and with just one shot over the lake I got back in the van and resumed my journey. It didn't take long to get from there to Bala, and back on the A494 I was finally on the last leg of my marathon circular tour - another twenty minutes and I would be 'home'.
It was 8pm when I arrived back at the camp site and with the sun now gone the daylight was rapidly starting to fade so I fed the dogs and took them for their last walk of the day down the track to the lane and back, then with a brew and a sandwich for myself we settled in for the rest of the night. Apart from the minor irritation of not being able to find Harlech castle I'd had a good day, and after the cloudy and grey start the weather had turned out lovely and I'd got some good photos, so as I snuggled into bed later on I was a very happy camper.