Looking along a long straight road amidst lush green farmland

Home Travel Stories

One Tent, One Night, And It Wur Cowd

Ride Dates 3/4 March 2024

By Ren Withnell

I've come in for some criticism lately on this 'ere blog. It seems I've been enjoying far too much luxury by staying in nice hotels, swish lodges and posh caravans. You people only seem to be happy when I'm shivering in a soggy tent in a muddy field after a 6 hour ride through a tempestuous weather front. Essentially you wish to see me suffering.

I can't decide which reason explains why you enjoy my suffering. Is it because you'd like to know what it's like riding through Scotland in winter on a 125 but you don't want to have to endure the suffering yourself? Or is it because you just don't like me and my suffering brings you satisfaction, therefore my pleasure brings you pain? Maybe you're all just sadists.

I wasn't gunna bother writing this up as it was only one night in Wales - an easy ride from the gritty bits of North West England. However I feel I must defend myself from the accusations of going soft and bring you this report of a chilly night a few miles west Cerrigydrudion at the start of March. If you're here for the suffering though you might as well quit now, I rather enjoyed myself. Anyway enough exposition.

A few days before...

Say what?!?! I've told Sharon I'm off camping in winter with a group of our mutual friends. Some are there for 2 nights but I'm just going for the Saturday night, work gets in the way of having fun. More out of politeness rather than expectation I ask if she'd like to join me. It's winter, it's been wet and it's been icy and she's made it very clear winter camping is not for her. 

The smart clean and warm accommodation we enjoyed at Cynwyd
Sharon much prefers this...
A man sleeping in a bivvy bag on icy ground
...to this.

Yes, OK, as it's one night and there's a warm pub on site and our friends will be there then she'll be coming. Blimey. Experience tells me though I'll be the one unable to sleep due to the cold, she'll grumble and groan about the cold for a couple of minutes until she's in her sleeping bag then she'll pass out for 8 hours solid. She'll be fine, I'll be the one suffering.

The Giler Arms (Y Giler in Welsh) is just off the A5 west of Cerrigydrudion, merely 11 miles from Cynwyd where we stayed only 4 weeks ago in our nice warm apartment. Ideally it would have been nice to be elsewhere having been in the area recently, but this weekend is more about spending time with friends rather than adventurous exploring. 

Saturday morning comes with a mixed forecast, but you can't expect anything else at this time of year. I saunter down to St Helens for a brew in the bike shop then get to Sharon's late lunch. She's wrapped up like an Inuit and rather excited with the new luggage on the new Kwakker 400. She's got so much luggage space now she's struggling to fill it all up. Oh lordy.

The motorway is cold and dull but acceptable. Things improve as we get into Wales proper, coming out via Mold and Ruthin. Much the same as our February trip the mountain tops have snow on them yet the roads are clear and there's even the odd dry patches of tarmac too. We're moving well, swiftly but not speedily.

Salt and road dirt cakes over the exhaust of Sharon's new Z400
Sharon is NOT impressed with the road salt.

The Giler Arms is perfectly pleasant and in the middle of nowhere. Google maps tells me it's in Rhydlydan, Rhydlydan appears to be a couple of farms and a couple of houses, nothing more. I pay our dues inside and we set up the tent close to our friends' tents. It's a little muddy and certainly cool but we've experienced far worse. 

The rest of the group are, presumably, out riding somewhere. Sharon and I take a walk into the surrounding countryside rather than just sitting around. The rain comes and goes although it is very light and the temperatures are comfortable with the right clothing. We find a country lane and a boggy path, a babbling brook and gnarly trees. We're only gone for an hour and a half but we've exercised the legs and seen pretty things, that'll do nicely.

Ren out walking by a gnarly tree along a grassy path and stone wall
Ren Modelling this years fashionable walking attire.

By the time we return another Saturday-nighter has arrived, she'll be staying in the rooms of the pub. Soon the rest of the crew return from their ride, a little chilled and a little wet but happy with tales to tell. 

The rest of the evening is spent inside the pub getting on with the serious business of eating an evening meal, discussing the finer points of a variety of diverse subjects, restraining one of our lot from upsetting the locals and generally being sociable. It's been a good evening but outside the temperatures are dropping and that cold sleeping bag feels less and less appealing.

Sharon grumbles and shivers, rubs her hands firmly and gripes then gets into the sleeping bag. I don my thermals and other items then get into my sleeping bag, ready for a night of discomfort and cold. Sure enough Her Worshipful Ladyship Princess Sharon is soon fast asleep, most peculiarly I seem to have nodded off too. 

I must have been well out of it. Save for a pee in the wee (sic) hours I have no recollection of a bad night's sleep. I'm asked about the terrible rain last night of which I know nothing. There's a frost on the ground and ice in the puddles and yet I've slept and slept well. Maybe I got the clothing right? Maybe it wasn't all that cold although the ice tells another story? Maybe I was exceedingly tired? Who knows, but I'll take it. 

A seat covered in frost and ice in the cold morning's light
Yes it was cold last night.

We decamp and depart our friends by around 1100. The ride home reaffirms that Wales in winter is ever beautiful and much quieter than it is during summer. We have the roads mostly to ourselves so we're switching between making good progress and dawdling to soak up the vistas. Sharon seems to be revelling in the 400's smoother power delivery and meatier dimensions, she looks entirely at ease and "right" in my mirrors. 

Snow capped mountains and rolling clouds around Snowdonia in March
If you get the right conditions Snowdonia is delightful at this time of year.
A different view of the snow capped mountains
Sharon's pictures are great aren't they?!

There's no great achievement to report here. There's no new lands explored, no difficult challenge has been overcome, and nothing much has been learned. What we have done though is enjoyed a pleasant night away with our friends in a pretty part of Wales and that in of itself is more than enough to be thankful for. More importantly them reprobates on the blog can shurrup about me being in posh hotels and executive apartments. 

Now, for our next trip Sharon's booked us a cottage on a country estate and a pub come hotel in the middle of nowhere. Dagnammit! 

7 friends all waving at the camera on Y Giler campsite
We all survived!
Sharon's 400 all shiny and clean after the salty ride to Wales and back
And Sharon's bike is clean once more.

Share your tale - click here.

Reader's Comments

ROD¹ said :-
This is why we give you a hard time Ren.
The more you experience winter camping the more you grow to enjoy it.

You just need to plan an overnighter in the Scottish mountains next winter.
22/05/2024 11:09:26 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I'm asking myself... Is ROD being genuine and steering me towards (another) winter Scottish adventure because he wishes to see me grow and mature as an all you round camper? Is ROD just steering me to freeze my bits off and suffer the insufferable because he enjoys watching me suffer?

Say ROD, you wanna join me? I know you've been through some, err... "rough" weather yourself :)
22/05/2024 13:20:10 UTC
nab301 said :-
"Ride Dates 3/4 March 2024

By Ren Withnell
I can't decide which reason explains why you enjoy my suffering."

Ren , whatever the reason , "schadenfreude" probably explains it best...
Good to see Sharon restored the Kwak to showroom condition ( was there ever a photo posted with all the luggage ?) and that you were none the worse for your travels , personally I'd reckon Scotland in winter would be a step too far!. I'd definitely get no pleasure from seeing you lose limbs with frostbite.

22/05/2024 15:53:58 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I've already tried Scotland in Winter nab301. That was cold and wet and then with the threat of snow coming in I ran away quickly. But it wasn't as cold as it was in Cornwall in winter, now that was "tres chilly" (my French is excellent).

There's a link to the Scotland in Winter trip in the post above, I'll add a link to the Cornwall trip for anyone's "schadenfreude"...
23/05/2024 08:05:23 UTC
nab301 said :-
Thanks Ren , I just went down the rabbit hole of a couple of those trips, you know it's cold when the tent cracks as you fold it up in the morning.. I haven't seen you mention hot water bottles recently..
23/05/2024 12:53:20 UTC
Bogger said :-
Hot water bottles when camping is a genius idea. I always take one on a winter camp.

23/05/2024 21:01:24 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
No I haven't nab301. I hear folks talk of hot water bottles and even threaten to try it for myself. Then I gets to thinking - it's one warm spot not the whole sleeping bag and then it'll surely just go cold in an hour anyhow? Do you manage to get to sleep with a warm belly and frozen toes? If you do get to sleep do you not wake an hour later with frozen toes and a tepid rubbery wobbly thing?

I'm not convinced. Yet.
24/05/2024 07:29:20 UTC
ROD¹ said :-
Ren, The procedure for the hot water bottle is as follows:-
If you are on a campsite with hot water fill the hot water bottle and a flask.
If hot water is not available boil a kettle and fill the hot water bottle and the flask.
Place the hot water bottle in the sleeping bag and move it around a few times to different areas of the bag.
Get into the sleeping bag which is now warm.
The sleeping bag and bottle will keep warm for about 3.5 to 4 hrs.
When you wake for a pee change the water in the bottle for the hot water in the flask and return to the sleeping bag for the remainder of the night.
Remember fail to prepare, and you prepare to fail.

I have also used a heated vest with a power bank with some success, but have not perfected this system just yet. The heated vest is less faffing, and can be useful on the bike.
24/05/2024 09:36:18 UTC
Bogger said :-
If the hot water bottle is in contact with your body it does not go cold, it merely stays at body temperature. So basically it stays warm.

24/05/2024 20:34:56 UTC

Post Your Comment Posts/Links Rules



Add a RELEVANT link (not required)

Upload an image (not required) -

No uploaded image
Real Person Number
Please enter the above number below

Home Travel Stories

Admin -- -- Service Records Ren's Nerding Blog