Led by Brian Purnell
Tour members: Brian Purnell (Tour Leader), Evan Mckay, John Henshaw, John Bingham, Steve Baker, Robert Purry, Hugh Mellor.
The unanimous opinion amongst all tour members was that tour of Mid and North Wales was a memorable and very successful tour.
The Day 1 ride plan was to head from Dorset for Leigh Dealmere West Services on the M4, via Blandford, Shatfesbury, Westbury, Warminster, Melksham and Chippenham, a distance of 72 miles. Thereafter the tour headed along the M4, M48 and entered Wales at Chepstow, picking up the B4235 to Usk, which has a wonderful mix of bends until you reach the A472 for Usk. Then on to Llanvihangel Gobion on the B4598, passing where the ever popular Bikers Steel-Horse Cafe used to be, now a residential property.
The ride avoided Abergavenny Town Centre and instead headed for Gilwern via the Heads of Valley A465. Cross the 18th Century Crickhowell Bridge which spans the River Usk in Powys, also the longest stone bridge in Wales at 128 feet. Once over on the A4077, followed by the A40 direction Brecon but very soon, took a right junction on to the A479 towards Bronllys for a lunch stop at the lovely named ‘Honey Cafe’, where Robert Purry joined the ride. It was a super lunch stop – very biker friendly. Due to an anticipated low passing through bringing with it rain and thunderstorms, it was decided to take the most direct route to Llanfyllin, where our hotel for the 10-11 June was located. So we headed for Builth Wells to refuel, then on to Llandrindod Wells, Crossgates to take the marvelous, twisty A483 to Newtown, listed in the top five roads in Wales for motorcycle riders – everyone could see why.
On arrival Newtown, we headed for the short ride to Welshpool before picking up the A490 to Llanfyllin, arriving at the Cain Valley Hotel at 1730 approx, where Hugh Mellor had already arrived having ridden there independently from home. Thankfully missing the thunderstorms although they did make an appearance later in the evening well after dinner. Following a well earned drink and chat at the Bar, we had our own dining room for dinner which was really nice.
The aim of the tour was to ride as many of the great bikers’ roads Wales has to offer. These included the A483 Crossgates to Newtown, the A4518 Macynlleth to LLandidloes which took the tour past Clywedog Reservoir, the B4391 Llanfyllin to Bala with awesome scenery, Bala to Ffestiniog taking the A4212 from Balavia Fron-goch, followed by the stunning B4391 again over the moors. Some other equally stunning roads tailored made for motorcycles were ridden especially on the Snowdonia Loop tour on Day 3.
On Day 4, we headed for lunch at the Oyster Catcher Rhosneigr, Anglesey and afterwards a ride along the old A5 with a fuel stop at Caerwen, cross over the Brittannia Bridge to the A55 for Conwy with stunning coastal views on the nearside, a coffee stop at Tal-y-Cafn Cafe on the A470 Llanrwst Road. After coffee headed for the A5 to the B4407 Ysbyty Ifan, another highlight with the B4407 taking the tour over quite a remote area of outstanding beauty.
Day 5 saw the tour head for the West Coast and Llyn Peninsula, riding past some truly beautiful coastlines, with a lunch stop at Dylan’s Restaurant, Cricceth, which was excellent. On the return leg to Llangollen the ride headed towards Penygroes, near Caernarvon, then taking the A4418 towards the Nantle Vale Pass, and joining A4085 at Rhyd-Ddu and on towards Beddgelert. The scenery along this road is truly amazing. Just a pity there weren’t any stopping places to take photos.
Day 6 was taken up with a circuitous ride on leaving Llangollen for our final hotel stop at Caersws. Day 7 was devoted to a marvelous tour of the Elan Valley, west to east, where we took the little known A4210 from Bwlch Nant yr Arian (Red Kite feeding station), to Devil’s Bridge and on to Cymystwyth for the ride through the Elan Valley to Rhayder, where we stopped for lunch at Ty Morgan’s Bistro. What a truly wonderful spectacle Elan Valley is – quite breathtaking, glorious, magical scenery.
The Day 3 itinerary on the Snowdonia Loop through the Eryri National Park was probably the highlight of the tour for most which after a coffee stop at Cafe Siabod, Capel Curing, headed along the A5 towards Llyn Ogwen, excellent for trout fishing (a ribbon lake is a large, narrow lake occupying a shaped valley) passing through Nant Ffrancon along the A5, with Snowdon visible, Bethesda with its ancient but working slate quarries (where Brian’s Dad was born at nearby St Anne’s and worked in the quarries on leaving school at 15), ascended the A4068 Llanberris Pass road via Pen-y-Pass (where walkers and climbers gather as they trek towards Snowdon), descend to the A498 Nant Gwynant Pass road to Beddgelert but first a quick stop at the Nant Gwynant view point for some photos. Further superb rides included the A4085 towards Nantmor, followed by the really challenging B4410, with its narrow tight bends via Rhyd and onto our lunch stop at the Lakeside Cafe, overlooking Tanygrisiau Reservoir, very popular with bikers.
Other tour rides included the famous Horseshoe Pass, Llangollen although the one occasion we rode past the Pondserosa Cafe , we couldn’t call in as it was closed. Further rides included a circuit of the fabulous roads which run around Llyn Brenig situated within the Clocaenog Forest west of Ruthin and Denbigh, the wonderful A543 across the Denbigh Moors. The only down side was that most of these roads are now monitored by average speed cameras set at 50 mph.
The ride back to Dorset on Day 8 was again back through central Mid Wales via Newtown and the twisty A483 to Crossgates, Llandrindod Wells to Builth Wells for a refueling stop. Once through Chepstow, the group retraced the outbound ride on Day 1 but only as far as the M4, followed by the M5 to Sedgemoor Services for coffee and a snack lunch. From here some made their way back home independently.
All in all, a fabulous tour the success of which was helped enormously by the brilliant, wall to wall, clear blue sky weather which showed off the Snowdonia (Eryri) National Park in all its glory. An excellent variety of well surfaced roads catered for all levels of riding experience. We had three quite marvelous hotels at Llanfyllin, LLangollen and Caersws, all with excellent, reasonably priced accommodation and dining facilities. Last but not least, a great tour group who got on well with each other, shared experiences and engaged in some lovely, friendly but humorous banter especially in the evenings over dinner, more so at the excellent Corn Mill Restaurant, Llangollen, where we dined for dinner twice. A special thank you to everyone on the tour for their support, encouragement and commitment – without which the tour would not have been the success it was. Total tour mileage approached 1500 miles.
Tour Leader / Organiser
From left to right: Honey Cafe Bronllys, A487 Mach Loop Dolgellau to Machynlleth, A498 towards Beddgelert, Nant Gwynant overlooking Beddgelert.