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My Short Trip To Wales Hot

Motorcycle Trip Reports

Name Reg
Age Over 18
Start Date of Trip 4th May 2014
Duration of Trip 3 days
Total Miles Covered 378
Total Cost of Trip Under £50
Countries Visited Wales
Bike Make & Model F650GS SINGLE
Age of Bike 10 YEARS
Mileage at Start 13,000 ish
Bike Modifications None
Bike Problems & Accidents None
Highs 3 days riding
Lows Elan Valley Top Gear Joke.
The Single Most Important Lesson Learnt Any ride can be an adventure.


A Few days off and so it’s off to Wales to visit some known roads and find some not travelled before.
Loaded up the bike BMW F650GS SINGLE with tent and the minimum amount of stuff you have to take with the intention of rough camping for the 3 days away. Bike fuelled up and tyres checked and off we go. I was going to use the A and B roads for the entire trip once I had used the M4/M48 to get across the Severn Bridge and head off into the hills.

Usual madness on the M4 and it was good to find myself near Chepstow and picking up the B road I found myself heading towards Raglan then onto Abergavenny where a stop for a drink and a bite to eat. It was my intention to take a slow ride up to Mid Wales and taking these back roads was a good way to have a self imposed speed limit to allow me to soak up the views without having to concentrate too much on the ever present hazards on the road both mobile and static!

Talgarth came and went as did Builth Wells. Continuing on the A470 to a favourite place of mine – Rhayader. Checking out a well known campsite which is right on the river (hint) I was shocked to see that it was going to cost me £7.50 for a one man tent for one night’s stay. Convinced even more that a rough camp would be a better option I headed into town to stock up on water and any little bits I fancied. Up to the road to the Elan Valleys and stopping at the Elan Valley Visitor Centre for a natural break – Nice clean toilets! Had a bite to eat again and a drink looking forward to finding myself in the valley to follow the road around the reservoirs and at the Clarewen Reservoir I intended to head up the “green lane” and find a camp site looking over the Reservoir to chill out and have a great night’s sleep under the stars and wake to a great view with no one in sight. That was the plan.

On my arrival in the car park at the bottom of the Dam I parked up and got off the bike and took the helmet off only to have a “person” in a dayglow orange jacket tell me I could not park there and I would need to move the bike to another area. Why? “Well this car park is closed today” OK not a big deal. So having moved my bike to the prescribed area I was then advised I could not use my camera as they – whoever they were – were filming and no photo’s could be taken as it might end up on public media!! What the hell are you on about? On looking around I could see a series one Land Rover being driven around the base of the dam on and off the green road which takes you down the valley adjacent to the proper road. “Sorry this road is not accessible today” was the reply before I even had chance to ask. By now I was quite upset as I only had 3 days to get this trip in and had been planning it and looking forward to it for months.

I left the jobs worth and his Land Rover with a drone overhead filming every move and made my way back down the valley to take the left hand turn to head up to the top of the dam and onto my “green Lane” and find my little bit of paradise to camp on. On turning left onto the access road I found it blocked by a local water Transit van with another person in dayglow stating the road was closed and I could not proceed! On asking why I got a very stupid reply “because it is closed for the next couple of days” No other reason given. I ask by what authority and power the public road had been closed and after much messing around the very nice lady stated that if I was to ride my bike around the back of her she could not stop me. On with my helmet and off I went only to be met at the top of the road by yet another security person (in dayglow) jumping out of his Vauxhall Vectra a bit too late as I waved to him as I passed and headed out on my Green Lane. After a mile I pulled over to admire the view and to take some pictures and was rewarded with a very low pass by two Euro fighters which was impressive. You have guessed it I spotted the security guards making their way down the road towards me. Not wishing to put up and argument as I knew by now it would be a waste of my time I saddled up and headed back to the dam.

Not stopping for them, but taking the time to give them a hand signal I arrived back at the top of the dam and then noticed a lot of scaffolding on the top. Not stopping I waved at the Vauxhall security man and the female who was still at the lower junction and looked for a place to put my tent up. No luck as there was no where to put the tent up due to notice on every possible place saying “No Camping”. It was getting late now so I ended up in the expensive camping site in Rhayader. I paid my £7.50 reluctantly and set about putting the tent up before it got dark. There was only one other couple in the field who also thought it a bit expensive but like me they were caught out by the failing light and took the plunge.

A quick wash in the clean shower block and it was off to town for a couple of drinks and a further bite to eat. I have been coming to Rhayader for some years and it never fails to amuse me how many pubs there are for such a small town. After a bit of conversation and a walk back to the camp site I spent the remainder of the evening listening to the water going by just a few feet away from the tent. Hoping that I would wake after a good night’s sleep I drifted off only to be woken by the sound of HGV’s throughout the night, banging on the main road which is along the camp site. Not too bad in a caravan perhaps but in a tent it was quite loud enough to wake me up (and indeed the other campers).

Up and at it the tent came down whilst the kettle was boiled. Bike loaded up it was time to head on up the roads with no particular end to the day planned. Just see where the road takes me and that will do fine. Going through Llanidloes – Where some years ago I watched David Knight ride his works BMW G450 Enduro in the World Championships) I continued on across the Aberystwyth mountain road which is always a great ride with plenty of views and other interesting things to make the detour very worthwhile. On arrival in Machynlleth it was a case of public toilets here we come. It’s such a busy town with plenty to see and as a bonus it was market day so I spent some time just walking around taking it all in. Met a couple of other bikers from Germany also on BMW’s who asked where I had come from and what roads were the ones to take? After a while they made their way and I was once again on my own and looking forward to the next part of the trip.

Heading East on the A470 towards Dina Mawddwy the road was quite busy but I was pushing along enjoying the sights and smells of the countryside! This area is in the Snowdonia National Park and is very beautiful so wishing to see a bit more I took the road to Llanymawddwy which takes you through a very green on both sides of the road type of road but without you realising that you are climbing at quite a rate. Eventually coming to a junction at Bwlch Y Groes when the road turns right if you want to descend to Llyn Efynwy I continued on and upward stopping at the top of the pass to take in the views and check all the luggage is still where it should be?

Arriving in Bala a decision needed to be made on what and where to go next. Hoping to find a very remote camp site which I knew about after a previous trip I decided to head up to the hills and find it once more. I did find it eventually but it was a bit further on than I had remembered but it was no problem as there was plenty of daylight left and the views just kept on coming. The GS had not given any hint of any problems and was popping away quite nicely thank you. Camp site found and fees paid - £3.50 with full use of unlimited water. I settled down to another night by a river which was sending me off to sleep with thoughts of why we do this sort of thing and only on a motorcycle will you get the full effect of these little adventures.

Up quite early, breakfast cooked consumed and all kit placed away I was now on my last day and with thoughts of heading South at some point today I did not want to go any further North or I would have a bit of a push on to get me home and ready for work the next day. With this in mind I took a circular trip via Cerrigydudion, Betws-Y-Coed, Ffestiniog, Maentwrog, Llanfair, Barmouth, Tywyn, Aberdyfi, Aberystwyth for chip butter on the sea front, followed by a natural break.

On to Devils Bridge, All this time the GS was just doing its job with no fuss or stress the seat was still comfortable but not as comfortable as my RT’s seat which was like an armchair. Across to Llangurig and back to Rhayader and a retrace of the route I took to go North only a couple of days ago. How time flys. At Abergavenny I tuned off the main road and took the B road to Kemeys Commander and onto Usk. This road cross’s the A449 Dual Carriageway which is a road often travelled but not liked very much but has been used a lot because it gets you up and away from the M4 but on this occasion I was happy to take the twist and turns in much more relaxed fashion and in keeping with my pondering around Wales trip. This road has a nice surprise in store as you descend towards Chepstow. With lots of view, mostly behind you on the left hand side so do be careful not to keep an eye on the road ahead as it’s quite twisty. Over the Severn Bridge and 20 mins later I am home.

The GS did not need any fuel till it had done 249 miles which impressed me. I fuelled up 2/3 the ways through the trip so it was a very cheap on fuel trip and needless to say no oil was used at all. Chain did not and has not needed any adjustment and is still on its first adjustment with a total of 13,050 miles on the clock.

Still smarting about being refused to being allowed to park at the dam and being told not to take any photos whilst being there I did some research as to what was going on? I later seen purely by accident a bit of a top gear program which I never watch but happened to come across it whilst surfing the channels.

I stopped on Top Gear because there was the Land Rover I had seen in the Elan Valley. It was being used as a remake of the original Land Rover advert where the Landy goes up the dam. I remember the original advert and on this remake they had rigged a wire from the top of the dam to the bottom to pull the Land Rover Up with one of the presenters behind the wheel. On this occasion I think it was Richard Hammond. When the Land Rover got to the top they had put the winch in the wrong position so it could not level out on top of the dam so Hammond had to get out and walk!

The whole Landy thing lasted about 10 mins if that, and it was all over. I later discover it had taken 4 days to film let alone set up. It had taken a lot of people to rig the scaffolding on top the dam and of course take it down again. The public roads (and of course no photo’s) had been in force with no formal power of enforcement for 4 days at least plus all the inconvenience to people who like me were on holiday with little chance of coming back when they were allowed to see what they had come for. This was just a ruse to stop Jo Public; you know the ones who pay for the BBC Licence, any access to the place where Top Gear was having a jolly. In the end it did not stop me having a great few of days away and reminded me why I love to ride the bike and meet nature and like minded human beings who almost always wave or nod when passing the other way and will stop and help another biker if they think there is something wrong. What a great bunch we are.

I think I/we are very lucky in life to experience such trips and no matter where you’re going or how long the trip I believe every journey can be an adventure.

Cheers
Reg

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Nice article Reg,
So glad you find Wales such a beautiful place to visit. The roads you mention must pass as some of the best this island has to offer for the 2 wheeled fraternity. And right on my doorstep to boot

 
 
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