A top-notch, friendly bakery and tea-rooms in the North Walian town of Dolgellau. Popty’r Dref is the perfect place to refuel for a weary cyclist.
After two arduous dead-end mountain climbs, one beautiful yet tiring detour, and a subsequent exhaustion of food supplies, by the time I and my (sometime) sherpa for the ride reached the North Walian town of Dolgellau, we were all out of proverbial beans.
It took three laps of the small town centre before plumping for Popty’r Dref as our refuelling station – and what a fantastic choice it turned out to be. Indeed, the bakery-come-cafe’s lack of outdoor seating became by the third lap too insignificant a drawback to stand between ourselves and its delicious-looking sustenance any longer.
Popty’r Dref’s attractive exterior and eye-wateringly fetching baked goods had caught my eye on our second sortie around the centre. After propping our bikes outside and finding a conveniently-located window seat, I swiftly saw that the magnetic draw of the cafe’s cake selection had not been a figment of a delirious cyclist’s imagination. Indeed, the array of home-baked sweet treats on offer made choosing almost impossible. I thus instructed my companion to provide me with a decadent hot chocolate and to make the cake selection for me.
While awaiting the delivery of much needed sugary morsels, I took in the contemporary tea-room feel of the establishment, which extended further back than I had expected, allowing plenty of seating space for weary cyclists.
The hot chocolate arrived – marshmallows and all – in a tall latte glass. A few sips of its warming, chocolatey goodness later and our friendly waitress brought us a much needed date slice and chocolate tiffin. The date slice was something else – chewy, chocolatey and, quite frankly, downright delightful – I couldn’t help but make noises of food-induced pleasure at every mouthful. The tiffin rounded off my chocolate-based meal nicely.
Happily warmed through, fed and watered, a pit stop at Popty’r Dref left us feeling just about ready to face whatever wrong turns and detours the rest of our adventure had to offer.
The Route – 55 Miles, 1200m Climbing
Taking Machynlleth railway station as your starting point, head north along the A407 before taking a swift left westwards onto the A493 towards Aberdyfi. Follow this gently rolling and pleasantly quiet road for a few miles through Pennal and Cwrt, after which you take a right turn into the Happy Valley, whose signage points you towards the first challenge of the ride.
The Happy Valley embodies all that is good about Welsh cycling: tough climbing, long rolling descents, Postman Pat-esque scenery and – on the day that we chose to ride at least – a smattering of refreshing drizzle.
Follow the road all the way along until you rejoin the A493, heading north through Tywyn, to the village of Bryncrug, where a right turn towards Talyllyn and Craig-y-Deryn will take you on a loop around the stunning Dysynni Valley.
As you come to the foothills of the rather foreboding hill at the end of the valley – Craig yr Aderyn, or Bird’s Rock, the only inland nesting site for cormorants in Europe – the road will come to an end whereupon it’s a left turn back along the other side of the valley to Llanegryn.
You’ll soon come to a junction where a right turn takes you back onto the A493, which you follow along the coastline, through Llangelynin, Llwyngwril, Friog, Arthog, Penmaenpool, after which a right turn towards Dolgellau just before reaching the A470 will take you on a quiet road into Dolgellau, to the cafe stop for the ride – Popty’r Dref.
After a well-earned bite to eat, continue along the road before taking a quick right onto Arran Road. It’s then another right onto Fron Serth, which presents a nicely challenging hill, a stretch of flat, then a right turn onto the A487.
An easy section then a steady climb will take you along the busiest stretch of the ride traffic-wise, but boy is it worth it for the fun and fast descent that follows. Another small climb is rewarded with the seemingly endless concluding descent of the ride, through the wooded Dulas Valley, over the River Dovey and back into Machynlleth.