The road went upwards on a steady incline and as I got towards the top of the long horseshoe-shaped bend there was a wide lay-by on my left - obviously a good vantage point as there were a few cars parked there so I pulled in and wound the window down. On a sunny day the view from there really would have been good but the haze over the far hills, the grey sky and wisps of low cloud didn't do it any favours; it was worth a photo though so I hopped out of the van and crossed the road to get my shot from the grass verge.
Further along the road was the Ponderosa cafe - it was a very popular place for motorcyclists to gather and quite a lot of machines were parked up with groups of bikers standing around chatting. Pulling in and parking at the far side of the car park I took the dogs for a bit of exploration; there was a narrow lane running past the back of the cafe complex and just across the rough grass was a pond with a small island in it. There were several small memorials on the island but not being able to get close I couldn't tell what they signified - possibly bikers who had lost their lives on the road, who knows?
The lane itself led down to what looked like a small hamlet of cottages at the bottom of the valley; with Castell Dinas Bran visible on the hill top in the distance the view would have been quite pretty on a sunny day. Luckily the sky, even though it was still grey, was much clearer round this part of the pass and there was no low cloud so I managed to get a fairly decent shot over the valley.
From just past the cafe the road started going downhill again so I wandered down there for a short distance to see what the views were like in that direction, then with another couple of shots taken I headed back to the car park, put the dogs back in the van and went to have a look in the gift shop next to the cafe.
I wasn't in the shop all that long but when I came out again it was absolutely pouring down so I had to make a quick dash back to the van. Although I hadn't heard any engine noise the bikers had all gone while I'd been in the shop, although several cars were still still parked up. I didn't fancy driving round steep bends on an unfamiliar road in that rain so I decided to stay put until it slackened off or stopped completely.
I didn't take much notice of how long I was there just looking at the view in front of me - maybe ten or fifteen minutes - but when I looked round properly every single car in the vicinity had disappeared. And what was worse, when I tried to drive out of the car park I found the barriers were across both entrances and I couldn't get out! Luckily I found an exit onto the lane behind the cafe but that experience felt really weird - the cafe must have closed while I'd been waiting for the rain to stop and with no-one else around anywhere it was just as if everyone who had been there had been swiftly and silently wiped off the face of the earth.
Instead of driving back down into Llangollen and all the way back along the A5 to Corwen I headed the opposite way to the A5104 - that eventually joined the A494 close to Corwen and from there it took only a few more minutes to get back to the camp site, then with a cooked meal made and the dogs in their beds I settled in for the evening. It had been quite an eventful day in more ways than one - Horseshoe Pass would be worth another visit in nicer weather, and though I certainly wouldn't want to repeat my encounter with the awful woman I would definitely consider doing another llama trek sometime in the future.