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Old 18 Feb 2014
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Location: Brynsiencyn, Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, Anglesey, Wales
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Wales, Autumn 2013. Part 1

The Italian Princess and the Red Dragon.
A Six Day Grand Tour of Wales for £250.

While enjoying a baking hot family summer holiday in Turunc this year we came across a chap, aged probably in his early to mid fifties, who was holidaying alone. After inviting him to join us in conversation we discovered every year his wife gave him a week pass-out to re-charge his batteries by his chosen method. He claimed his method of revitalisation was basking in the powerful sun, taking in the rather beautiful sights of this tranquil Southern Turkish holiday resort and reflecting over his newly acquired visual feast while sitting by the side of a pool bar sipping ice cold . All-in-all one might conclude, this is a rather agreeable state of affairs.
Upon my return to Blighty, and for much of the rest of the summer, I pondered over this chaps seemingly good fortune before coming to a series of rather less satisfactory, but quite feasible speculations: He’s miserable; he’s got nothing else to do, and his wife probably wants him to bugger off because she’s sick of the sight of him and he of her. Yet the most definite conclusion I eventually arrived at concerning him was he was certainly not a biker. As a result, his only real means of escape from whatever he needs to escape from is a Boeing 737. Fortunately for me I do have other options, I am a biker and my conveyance is a little more versatile: tucked up in the garage sits a freshly serviced 2005, Aprilia SL1000 Falco, wearing brand new tyres and a bloody big roll-top bag. The unexpected benefit of owning such a rewarding and engaging means of transport gives me something he, and probably millions of others, would never realise or understand: it gives me not only a means of escape but also a passion; a hobby; an obsession; an excuse; a dream. It is my ticket to ride.

So when the opportunity of an autumnal half-term pass-out presented itself to me, the only real dilemma I faced was to where take the bike for 2013’s last big ride. My beloved made the suggestion ‘...why don’t you do what you’ve been talking about all summer and take the bike on a tour round Wales?’ I’m lucky enough to already have my official home in Anglesey but kids and my beloved’s work commitments ensure I spend a significant percentage of time in Preston Lancs. I immediately started to explore the possibilities on the internet. I would need about five nights; it would probably cost fifty quid a night for B&B’s; twenty quid a day for juice and another twenty for grub and grog. It all seemed a bit pricey and the weather was looking decidedly ropey. ‘Why don’t you look at youth hostels, you like talking to all and everyone?’ she suggested, sensing my ‘tight as a camel’s arse in a sandstorm’ attitude. I typed Youth Hostel Association (YHA) into the Google search, selected Wales from the location choice and looked in amazement at the results; the hostels were cheap, basic and perfectly placed for my tour.
Now I might be a grey haired Mancunian on a bike, but that’s where my similarity with Nick Sanders ends. I planned my route with a maximum of 150 miles a day. It’s all very well riding many hundreds of miles in straight lines and with decent weather but there is more chance of me growing two heads than Wales (or anywhere in northern Europe) having good weather at this time of year. In addition to that, a straight of more than half a mile is unheard of in the Principality except for the A55 North Wales Expressway and the M40 South coast motorway. Besides the dodgy weather and winding mountain roads, my unwillingness to even attempt to match Nick’s super-human treks were regulated by the memory of once riding a single cylinder Pegaso 650 the 300 miles from Rye in Sussex to North Manchester, after getting an early morning train in the opposite direction. I had quite rightly vowed never again. The logic I therefore apply for my end of October- beginning of November tour was governed by the days being short and the weather probably being ‘bobbins’. Also, although I know North Wales very well after a lifetime of day trips, holidays and now living there, Mid Wales by contrast holds many more mysteries and South Wales is virtually unknown territory. With this in mind I decided when you are a long way from home it would be a shame to just flash past somewhere on the by-pass wondering what it’s like. On the Monday night I get the computer out and start booking my places at the hostels. I’m going tomorrow. The itinerary is:
Day 1 Tuesday. Ride from Preston to my house in Brynsiencyn, Anglesey. 119 miles.
Day 2 Wednesday. Ride to Tyn-Cornel YHA Bunkhouse near Llanddewi-Brefi in the Cambrian Mountains. 120 miles.
Day 3 Thursday. Ride to St Davids YHA in Pembrokeshire via Aberaeron and Fishguard. 100 miles.
Day 4 Friday. Ride along South Welsh coast to Cardiff YHA. 116 miles.
Day 5 Saturday. Ride up through valleys to Llangollen Bunkhouse. 140 miles.
Day 6 Sunday. Ride either back to Preston, or back to Anglesey. Either way about 80 miles.
Possible day 7 Monday. Anglesey to Preston. 119 miles.
Let’s hope it all goes according to plan.

I love Wales. It’s strange for a Mancunian to admit to loving anything and my glowing affection for the Principality causes no-end of amusement to my as-yet uneducated son and his gob-shite mates. Of course I take no notice of their would-be-smartass, tediously Americanised comments: they just haven’t seen the light, yet. However, quite soon into my journey, in-fact within minutes of the big v-twin firing up, I began to have my doubts about the wisdom of my choice of an autumn tour of the land of song.
After dropping little Bronny off at the nursery at 9am for her first day, (sob sob, she’s all grown up now etc.) I got back to the house and started to get my gear on. Just to show my appreciation to my beloved for suggesting and then pushing me to make the trip happen I decided to tidy up and do the washing up. The weather when I dropped off the little one was bright and breezy so I assumed all would be well for a while and undertook my domestic duties. An hour later I ventured outside to lash my bags on the bike. Big black clouds were on the move but the rain was still holding off. I finished securing my luggage, carried out the final checks of glancing at the oil gauge tube and kicking the tyres and chain, and set off.
Two miles from the front door the first snooker ball sized raindrop hit my face through the open visor. ‘Shit!’ Visor down, M6 southbound, mad busy, visor steams up, visor up, wet face, ‘Shit!' I repeated to myself, 'Why didn’t I buy that Pinlock thing at Ghostbikes yesterday? Fourteen quid - you tight bastard! This is ‘gonna’ be an ordeal.’ As is often the case, the traffic began to back-up around Wigan for the inevitable minor incident and I started filtering through but after a few miles of crawling between the frustrated commuters some clown in an A class Merc swerved across six feet in front of me without bothering to check his big shiny mirrors bolted to the side of his silly little tin box: causing me to lock up the back wheel to avoid an early end to the trip. I pulled alongside and pointed out the error of ways while he desperately tried to avoid eye contact. No apology was offered but at least the fool looked suitably embarrassed by his stupidity. God I hate the M6.
Thankfully, by the time I had covered the thirty miles to the M56 junction the rain had stopped but there was still standing water on parts of the road and the spray was relentless. I thought to myself ‘if this is what it’s going to be like for the rest of the week I might as well turn round now and spend the week on the couch.’ By the end of the twenty mile section of M56 approaching Deeside I finally saw dry tarmac. Halle-bloody-lujah! Wales, for now at least, was dry.
I thundered across the blustery but otherwise quiet and undeniably beautiful A55 towards Anglesey, ruefully watching the fast moving clouds dancing and massing over the Irish Sea. I did have half a mind to check in at the house, pick some things up I wanted and then continue to Aberdaron where my granddad used to live and find a B&B for the night, but on arrival in Anglesey I correctly decided to scrap that idea. The early soaking and the relentless high winds throughout the rest of the 119 mile trip had made me feel a tad jaded. It was only early afternoon but I covered the bike up in the garden of my house, and went across the road to ‘Y Groeslon’, the village pub in Brynsiencyn, to tell the old lads over a couple of good Welsh pints of my impending trip round their country. The weather forecast for the next day was threatening downpours in the afternoon so an early night, followed by an early start should see me at the hostel before the rain blew in off the sea. Good plan if it works.
At seven on Wednesday morning the alarm woke me up to a bright blustery day in Brynsiencyn. I loaded my bag onto the bike and by eight I was thundering down the dry five mile or so stretch of the A4080 to the Britannia Bridge. Once back on the mainland I took the road to Caernarfon and everything appeared to be going according to plan. The night before I had studied the route set out on Google maps which took me from Caernarfon along the main A487 road, around Snowdonia to Porthmadog. Given the storms of the last few days I was fairly content to be avoiding the twisty mountain passes, however, the tom-tom had a different plan. I had set the route to the postcode of the Tyn-Cornel bunkhouse and glanced at the map of the route-plan on the small sat-nav screen. The plotted route appeared fine, bringing me to the west coast at the top of Cardigan Bay as anticipated, but I hadn’t noticed on the tiny screen map how it was taking me through, rather than round Snowdonia. When the know-it-all black box subsequently directed me off the Porthmadog road just before Caernarfon I assumed it was a town centre by-pass but soon enough I found myself on the winding, windy, wet, leaf and branch strewn A4085. There followed about hour of bolt-upright, nervous riding through some fairly dodgy conditions. Finally, after passing through the pretty hump-backed bridge village of Beddgelert I emerged unscathed from the twenty mile mountainous region at Llanfrothen where my nerves were soothed with a big pot of tea and a full breakfast at the ‘Siop Y Pentref a Chaffi.’ (Not bad, 7/10)

From Llanfrothen, I continued south and was finally deposited onto the main A487, until what I assumed to be its termination with the southbound A470 heading towards the riverside village of Dolgellau. From there, the A487 miraculously re-emerged and took me thirty five miles first briefly eastward and then south-westwards on beautifully surfaced, fast and sweeping road down to the aforementioned Mr Sanders’ new hometown of Machynllenth, (although there are two areas where they are still working on re-routing and re-surfacing the road) and continues, in the same fine, free flowing form across to Aberystwyth.

Normally, Aberystwyth would be well worth hanging around at for a while. An ancient university town with narrow streets full of interesting looking shops, complimented by a fine promenade and marina. However, after pulling in at the marina watching a local chap collecting driftwood from a huge pile driven high up the beach by the previous nights’ storm, I nervously looked out to sea to see ominous black clouds being blown in at an alarming rate of knots. The ever insistent tom-tom informed me I was still twenty-odd miles from the bunkhouse which was located high up in the Cambrian Mountains so after a quick fuel, coca-cola and chocolate stop I was back on the road riding away from the on-rushing clouds.

From Aberystwyth tom-tom directed me south again on the A487 for a couple of miles before turning inland onto theA485 heading towards Tregaron. Once again the road was beautifully surfaced with predictable fast sweeping corners but somewhere just outside Tregaron tom-tom, (the bastard!) took me off this pristine tarmac and onto a series of very wet, narrow, leaf, mud and cow shit covered single tracks. I’ve looked on the map and these roads aren’t even numbered.
Eventually, after being entirely at the mercy of the little black box bolted to the Aprilia’s windshield for what seemed like an eternity, I entered the somewhat unexpected village of Llanddewi Brefi, to see a teenage Goth girl walking down the mid-nineteenth century village street, complete with the compulsory uniform of a skull printed jacket, full black make-up and the essential piercings. She looked as surprised to see a large bloke in a bright red and white jacket on a big Italian motorcycle as I was to see her in a village where Ivor the Engine would have appeared the more appropriate transport and a flat cap and a grubby old trench coat the more appropriate attire.

From the village a small brown sign signified the bunkhouse was seven miles away. Seven miles normally on a motorcycle is what, ten maybe fifteen minutes? This was no normal seven miles. The road immediately narrowed and began climbing the steep valley out of the village. After half a mile or so the houses ended and a few hundred yards later a clear green mossy centre to the single track emerged signifying a distinct lack of regular traffic. ‘Onwards and upwards’ ordered tom-tom. Soon I was riding up the side of a moor, sheep scattering into the surrounding woodlands as I approached. Eventually the road, once again perfectly and recently tarmaced it must be said, was closely shrouded by the forest. A single set of fresh tyre tracks clearing two six inch paths of adhesive tarmac from the half inch of freshly dropped slippery and wet pine needles covering the remainder of the road. After emerging above the tree line the road was open to the wide and wasteful moor with the gleaming white and surprisingly sprightly sheep providing the only splash of colour from the dramatic bracken covered hillside. At the top of a desolate hill a brown sign indicated the bunkhouse was one mile to the left down a steep un-metalled and deeply potholed track. I feared for the longevity of my new Pilot Road 3 tyres as I dodged large sharp looking stones and plunged through deep puddles on the five minute endurance course of a track before rounding a perilous bend and spotting the secluded bunkhouse behind two farm gates maybe 500 yards away.

My son Jake, who rides a tatty old ‘R’ reg. Honda CB500 which, due to him having no garage or shed, lives under a scrappy old cover outside his house in Oldham sneeringly refers to my beloved Aprilia as the ‘Italian Garage Princess.’ I laughed to myself as I looked at the Italian Princess following her seven mile ordeal from Llandewi Brefi to the YHA hostel. Mud, pine needles, sheep shit and god-knows-what else covered her normally stylish figure and deep red metallic paint. ‘If only that little swine could see you now’ I thought.
So this is what YHA hostels were all about then. Tom-tom was forgiven for its earlier eccentricities. It had, with disturbing accuracy, directed me to the front door of what must be one of the most remote and inaccessible places on the British mainland.

The last time I stayed in a hostel was during a primary school holiday to somewhere in Derbyshire in the late 1970’s, as a consequence I only had very vague memories on which to base my expectations. As I got off the bike to open one of the gates a bloke appeared on the front steps waving to me in a friendly manner before disappearing back inside the rustic old farmhouse. ‘Bloody hell, that’s a nice welcome’ I thought as my expectations rose considerably. I passed through the gates, locking them behind me of course, and rode up to the hard-standing in front of the hostel. The bloke, the volunteer warden, a tall lean retired gardener from Bristol in his sixties whose name was Bill re-emerged from the front porch gesturing and shouting towards me asking if I’d like a cup of tea. I took my helmet off and Bill said, ‘Oh, I thought you were someone else!’ Fortunately Bill proved to be equally friendly and welcoming to the real me as he would have been to his evidently delayed friend.
Surprisingly un-flustered by a big mystery bloke turning up clad in leather, Bill took me inside the hostel to show me around and made a thoroughly welcome mug of tea. I told him my name and that I was booked in for the night expecting him to already know this. ‘That’s alright...’ he said, ‘...I only find out once a week who’s coming when I go down to the village and get a note.’ It turned out there was no phone line to the hostel and the nearest mobile phone signal was ‘a couple of miles up the hill!’ In true ‘townie’ tradition I was momentarily horror-struck. ‘No phone, what if...?’ Actually, there was a small cause for concern. The last mile or so of the ride down to the hostel was most certainly not what Michelin had in mind when they designed my posh new road tyres. If I had damaged them on that rough track, and it was seriously bloody rough, I was stranded. I left the bike outside for an hour or so, nervously checking the tyres every five minutes before realising with some relief everything was fine and tucking up the grubby Italian Princess in the woodshed for a dry and well-earned good night’s rest. (After scouring the concrete floor like a hawk for old pallet nails and threatening looking splinters.)
Since I’d ridden about twenty miles inland, the rain arrived a couple of hours later that had been expected on the coast. By 4pm there was heavy drizzle followed by a prolonged downpour beginning an hour or so later. I’d judged the weather perfectly. Outside the hostel that evening the silence of the mountains was drowned out by the sounds of running water as thousands of tiny streams formed on their way down the hillsides to the valley bottom. Inside was far more welcoming: an open coal fire, faced by two old and exceptionally comfortable rocking chairs, roared away in the communal living/dining room. The other hostellers for the night consisted of a very nice retired couple from Caerphilly who apparently were regular YHA visitors in their quest for remote country walking, far from the madding crowd, as it were. They were accompanied on this occasion and two of their grandchildren and made interesting conversation before turning in early to be off up the mountain in the morning. This left me, Bill and his recently arrived buddy Richard, a middle aged farmer from Shropshire who regularly ventured into Wales on his Suzuki Burgman, (although on this trip he was in his 4x4) to poke at the glowing embers of the fire while discussing the many merits of the YHA and of travelling this utterly beautiful land on two wheels. It turned out that Bill also had a valid contribution to the bike discussion as he cycles to Tyn-Cornel from his flat in Bristol for his three week stints as the warden, that’s about 120 miles according to Google Maps so ‘fair play to him’ I say. I retired from the peaceful chat around 9.30pm to choose my bed from the eight empty bunks in the male bunkroom. The thoroughly comfortable yet agricultural looking bunk proved no-obstacle to my tiredness and I was asleep in seconds after the exploits of the day.

Tyn-Cornel bunkhouse was a revelation to me: a rustic yet perfectly equipped old farmhouse situated in the most wonderful, spectacularly beautiful, peaceful and remote location. Everything you really need when you are on your travels or after a quiet break; and none of the crap you don’t. No telephone, no radio, no T.V. no computer. It costs £12 per night for a warm comfy bed, good conversation, a well equipped kitchen and a glorious roaring fire. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, especially for those among us who appear surgically attached to their stupid i-phones, but I found it fabulous.
The next morning I was up bright and early to coerce the Italian Princess back up the endurance course to the tarmac. Having learnt the lesson (very nearly the hard way) on the way down of not trying to cross the raised grassy middle of the track if staying upright was my objective, I covered the mile of gravel, rocks, puddles and sheep shit with much more grace and confidence than on my previous attempt. Soon enough I had descended down the road into Llandewi Brefi and was back on the normal roads. This time tom-tom took me on a different set of minor roads before joining the A485 to Lampeter and from there I joined the A482 running parallel with the River Aeron, heading back to the coast, around twenty miles away at Aberaeron. With the weather looking good it was tempting to open the throttle a little further on the once again superb surface, yet the still wet tarmac ensured I generally kept within the legal and perfectly reasonable 60mph limit on the enticingly flowing but unfamiliar road.

All too soon I arrived at the beautiful little seaside town of Aberaeron. The streets, when slowly cruising round on a motorbike, appear to be neatly set up in a grid formation to one side of the old and very pretty harbour, through which the river flows out into Cardigan Bay. Strangely enough, even though there were several fine looking restaurants, I couldn’t find a cafe for the required fry-up so after a little walk around the harbour I jumped back on the bike and set off down the magnificent A487 towards Cardigan. This proved a good move as within twenty minutes or so I came across ‘Emlyn’s’ roadside cafe at Tan-Y-Groes, where a truly monumental full breakfast was presented and devoured. (Excellent 10/10)

Considerably heavier than when I arrived, I struggled to gracelessly clamber back on the Italian Princess before blasting the eight miles down the hill and crossing the River Teifi at Cardigan. Since I had just devoured at least one, and possibly two days worth of calories at Emlyn’s and the greeting landmark to Cardigan was a large and uninspiring Tesco, I decided to break my own rules and bypass the town: a decision I now regret. But the weather was looking good and the road was beginning to dry out so covering the twenty miles or thereabouts to Fishguard along the superb A487 seemed more appealing at the time than trying to walk off some of the recently added heart-attack fodder. A further 20 minutes or so of relatively high speed cruising along the fabulous road landed me at the top of the headland overlooking the steep series of hairpin bends descending into the old Lower Town of Fishguard.

Having never been to this ‘neck of the woods’ before, I was somewhat surprised by Fishguard. I expected the area to be dominated by the ferry terminal but on descending from the headland into the Lower Town there was no sign of heavy shipping and only a few small fishing and leisure craft surrounding the boatyard in the delightful steep sided cove that doubled as a small harbour and the outlet for the River Gwaun. The main town, perhaps a mile or so away was up the other side of the cove and consisted of a narrow, winding but interesting looking high street shrouded on both sides by houses. Heading west from the centre the ferry terminal and main harbour were perhaps another mile off to the right. I rode round to the ferry terminal to find out the cost and travel times to Rosslare in the south of Ireland, considering an abandonment of my initial plans in favour of northbound ride up through Ireland to Belfast before crossing back to Liverpool, but eventually decided to stick to ‘plan A’ and remain on this side of the water.
The actual cost of the ferry from Fishguard to Rosslare, followed by a crossing between Belfast and Liverpool was quite reasonable: £93 with the bike. Yet the main stumbling block was the prospect of arriving in Ireland in a town I’ve never been to, in the dark (about 7pm) with nowhere to stay and the likelihood of being fleeced by the local B&B owners. Also to consider was the ever present irritation of throwing money away buying Euro’s at ridiculous rates at the ferry ports. I know, I’m a bloody tight northern git!

After stretching my legs and fuelling up at the harbour, I rejoined the A487 heading south-westwards for the 16 miles to Britain’s smallest City of St David’s, Pembrokeshire, the westernmost county of Wales. The dry road out to Tyddewi (St David’s in Welsh) was such a blast that after I’d had a mooch around the beautiful, fascinating and ancient town I seriously considered going back and riding it again: just because I could. I had overtaken a tractor followed by some dithering fool in a Renault people carrier about half a mile out of Fishguard and didn’t see another vehicle until I reached the town. Then, on the by now expected perfect tarmac, I blasted the Aprilia along the fast yet bendy road as swiftly as I dared, while still being able to savour the wonderful sights, smells and sounds of autumnal rural West Wales. It really is God’s country. The Italian Princess was running like a dream: the big Rotax Mille engine humming along contentedly and then roaring into life, breathing fire like the mythical Welsh dragon whenever requested; the Michelin Pilot Road 3 tyres were sticking like glue in the wet or dry; the steering was absolutely accurate and the big Brembo brakes hauled my not inconsiderable bulk up exactly as they should; the seat was comfortable and the riding position perfect for engaging riding. It dawned on me I was truly enjoying myself out there, there was absolutely nothing I’d rather be doing and nowhere I’d rather be. My mind flashed back to the bloke in Turkey sat by the pool and I thought just how much more I was getting from my free time than he was from his. That little black picture of a motorcycle on the reverse side of my driving licence granted me a real sense of freedom: not governed by anyone’s timetable but my own; not at the mercy of French air traffic controllers; not a member of ABTA. The motorcycle trip, however long, is up to you and no one else: no one to blame if it goes wrong but yourself; no one to thank or congratulate upon its successful conclusion but yourself. There’s freedom, two wheels and a tank full of unleaded.

Last edited by oldfenners; 20 Feb 2014 at 21:34.
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Old 18 Feb 2014
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Location: Brynsiencyn, Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, Anglesey, Wales
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Wales, Autumn 2013. Part 2

The YHA hostel at St David’s, costing £21 per night, was a class above my previous nights abode at Tyn-Cornel, but wasn’t, in my admittedly odd opinion, any better for it. Again it was an old converted farm although in a less remote location and in a more presentable state of repair. The main building was the old farmhouse and served as an office for the warden and as a common room for the visitors. This building was flanked by the old stables to the left and the old dairy to the right, both of which had been converted to bunkhouses and had excellent facilities. I was billeted in a single room of the old dairy building and the Princess was again found shelter, this time in a barn about 50 yards away. Somewhat disappointingly there was a full strength mobile phone signal in this still wild location but after enjoying the tranquillity and isolation of the previous night in the mountains I manfully resisted the embarrassing urge to ring everyone up like some yapping fool telling them where I was.
My co-hostellers for the night were a varied bunch: a pleasant middle-aged couple who happened to live near my sister in north Shropshire and were spending a week walking round Pembrokeshire; a frightfully well-to-do sounding couple of pensioners doing much the same, I presumed by their cut-glass accents they hailed from the home counties; a slightly self-righteous but by no means unpleasant woman from Newport, Gwent, and her teenage granddaughter, who I suspect was being unwillingly and forcefully introduced to the great outdoors; and a couple of Austrian girls in their late teens holidaying and hiking in the glorious Welsh countryside, one of whom was working as an aupair near Oxford and the other who was her best friend from their school days in Linz. My startling realisation of the night was after completing a degree in modern history some years ago, just how difficult it is to talk to Austrian’s, especially from the Linz area, without the conversation becoming dominated by Hitler. I felt a little like Basil Fawlty when the Germans visited the hotel. Fortunately my wider experience of Teutonic matters, which I learned while working as a builder in Germany in the 1990’s (a la Auf Wiedersehen Pet) and my genuine affection for the country and people equipped me well. The ensuing conversations, carried out in English, pigeon German and atrociously pronounced Welsh were friendly, varied and entertaining.

After another resounding night’s sleep I was woken up at 7am to the sound of heavy rain. I don’t really know why but after the fine weather the day before I assumed the downpour to be just a passing shower: I couldn’t have been more wrong. I had the Princess out of the barn and loaded up by 8.30 and set off continuing the A487, which hairpins in St David’s, on a south-easterly course towards the coastal village of Newgale. Here, after having crossed inland for seven miles, you are presented with a spectacular and somewhat unexpected view of the sea as the road drops steeply and dramatically down Newgale Hill to a beachfront road and then rises after only half a mile or so in equally spectacular fashion up Woodhill Rise. It makes you wonder why they didn’t just build the main road on the higher ground and leave the beachfront hotel connected by a minor road, but I’m glad they didn’t as the fall and rise of the beach road offered exciting riding and wonderful, exhilarating views of the wild and stormy sea.

However, although the road was up to its usual standard of excellence, the weather most certainly was not. It was pissing down. Ten minutes or so later, after following the road up to a considerably higher altitude I decided shelter and my outer waterproofs were needed. I pulled in at a covered bus stop near Plecomb and decided to give it half an hour to blow over. I imagine the passing motorists were highly amused at the sight of a fully kitted out motorcyclist sat in a bus stop trying to squeeze himself into a slightly tight set of waterproof trousers and an even tighter waterproof coat, which, when I had finally shoe-horned myself into them made me look like a black and day-glow Michelin man. Worse was to follow as it took me at least a quarter of an hour to get my waterproof over-gloves on. The first one is no problem but the second, with no grip available from the nylon mitten is pure torture. After a while I decided the only to do it way was to take off my helmet and pull the bastard thing on with my teeth, only to then find I couldn’t fasten the double D ring on my helmet strap. Ridiculous! Eventually I managed to get myself partially waterproof and set off again towards the termination of the A487 at Haverfordwest.

I can’t remember much about Haverfordwest, what I do remember is a steamed-up visor, road signs for Milford Haven and the Pembroke Dock ferry, several roundabouts with a potentially lethal cocktail of rainwater and diesel flowing across them, then a BMW car dealership on the A40 heading east out of the town. In-fact, I can’t really remember anything other than a steamy visor, incessant rain, white lines and brake lights for the next twenty-odd miles until I saw a little brown sign on the roadside at St Clears signifying Dylan Thomas’s boathouse four miles off the main road. I vaguely remembered either reading or watching something in the recent past about my favourite work by Dylan Thomas, Under Milk Wood, being wrote at the boathouse so I willingly took the diversion. I was glad I did, just as I turned off the road I saw ‘Mooks’ Motorcycle and accessories shop < Web Hosting, Reseller Hosting & Domain Names from Heart Internet > located in a small industrial estate, so I took a second diversion to my diversion.
When I entered Mooks as a bedraggled and thoroughly drenched biker I was immediately offered a most welcome cup of tea, just what you need after you’ve been half drowned and frightened to death for the past hour on unfamiliar roads and monsoon conditions. I had a good chat with him and bought some chain oil as mine had run out in Anglesey and I had been intending to get some all the way down. I was informed by Mook my HJC helmet needed a specific Pinlock insert so I’d have to continue in the fog for now or buy a new helmet. He recommended the road down to Dylan Thomas’s boathouse at Laugharne (strangely pronounced Larne?) as ‘a great ride on a dry day’. Altogether I was glad to have made his acquaintance and if I’m in the area again will certainly call in and scrounge another cup of tea. (And buy whatever I think might be of use.)
After attempting to dry-off a bit in Mooks shop for half an hour I set off down to the boathouse and could soon see where he was coming from about the road. The A4066, a real twisty little jaunt starting half way up the valley and running parallel to the River Taf (pronounced Tav, and not to be confused with the River Taff, which emerges from the valleys at Cardiff) snakes gently downwards to the village of Laugharne. From the village a brown tourist sign direct you to the boathouse which, unfortunately, allows no vehicular access.

A 200 yard walk along the coastal path then leads you to the ‘Writing Shed,’ a 1930’s wooden garage perched on the edge of the cliff with a sign outside stating here was where Dylan Thomas actually wrote his most famous play for voices. Although the Writing Shed was locked, you could see inside through the window on the back door. Inside the shed was a small open fireplace, a writing desk and chair looking out over the Taf estuary, numerous books and period newspapers scattered around and several portraits hanging on the walls. The view out of the window from the desk was beautiful yet melancholy and knowing Dylan Thomas’s work, as I do, it becomes easy to understand from where he drew at least some of his inspiration.

‘To begin, at the beginning...’ Inside Dylan Thomas’s Writing Shed.
A further sign outside the Writing Shed stated the boathouse, where Thomas actually lived, was a further walk down the path but since the rain was still bouncing down and I’d left the tom-tom attached to the bike I turned back and set off to cover the twenty eight miles to the home of countless Welsh rugby legends, Llanelli.
I rode back up the winding A4066 to St Clears and from there rejoined the westbound A40 heading to Carmarthen. Once again the superb road was ruined by the relentless downpour and somewhat shamefully my only remaining memories of Carmarthen were passing a B&Q and several more potentially lethal roundabouts. I then crossed the River Towy and joined the A484 for a couple of miles before taking the B4309 the remaining twelve misty visored and increasingly sodden miles to Llanelli.
Upon entering the outskirts of Llanelli I passed a static speed camera and realised it was the first one I had seen since Preston! As I travelled with the traffic into the town I followed the brown signs for the new ‘Parc y Scarlets’ rugby stadium but along this route I passed an old and fading ‘Parc y Stradey’ sign for the famous old home of Llanelli RFC, Stradey Park: the scene of so many great matches. Sadly, Stradey Park is now a field full of half-build modern semi-detached houses, yet the older houses on the surrounding hillside reminded me of my childhood memories watching ‘Rugby Special’ on Sunday afternoons on BBC2.
The brown signs took me away from the town centre and onto an industrial coastal road where, after more roundabouts than you could shake a stick at, the shiny new stadium dominated a thoroughly bland modern out-of-town shopping estate. I went to the Parc y Scarlets to take a few pictures and have a look in the shop/museum but other than the famous old Stradey Parc scoreboard, still proudly displaying Llanelli 9 – Sealand Newi 3, from their famous 1972 victory over the All Blacks, I found the place somewhat soul-less. There’s progress for you.

By this time I was utterly soaked, my waterproof overcoat had done a tremendous job of keeping my Alpinestars bike jacket dry, but, since the sleeves were too tight to go over my ‘Knox Outdry’ gloves all the water running down my arms had managed to find its way straight inside the gloves. Bollocks! I looked in my ‘Oxford First Time’ soft luggage for my spare gloves but since I had the Hein Gericke bag lashed to the top of the panniers I couldn’t put the waterproof covers on them and my second pair of gloves was as wet as the first. Double Bollocks! I was wet and hungry and cold. The only options on the shopping estate were the usual crap: Frankie and Bennies; Tesco; Morrisons or McDonalds. Being a tight northerner I went for the McDonalds option but after negotiating a maze of roundabouts to get into the damn place I was amazed to find no parking spaces. I don’t know if the place had just opened that day or something but it was the biggest, busiest, McDonalds I’d ever seen. There were even four automated tills similar to those at Argos to place your orders. I was in hell. I quickly filled myself up with a couple of burgers, filled the by now much cleaner Princess up with unleaded at Tesco and got the hell out of there.

My visit to Llanelli was a terrible let-down in retrospect, I had never been there before and had for many years so looked forward to visiting this legendary bastion of Welsh rugby. In fairness the day had been a total wash-out on the weather front and subsequently I had been unwilling to spend any time exploring the actual town and actually talking to real people as I would have done normally. Yet I think the chief cause for the disheartened feeling I left the area with was my own inability to escape from the seething contempt I feel for sports stadiums bolted-on to out of town retail parks. In my socialist inspired mind the multi-national companies which fund such developments are exploiting and abusing the good name and community identities built up by over a hundred years of such sports clubs simply to assure the planning consent for their new, boring retail parks. Llanelli Rugby Club used to be sited in the town, surrounded by houses, the same could be said for Bolton Wanderers, to an extent Manchester City, and many other famous clubs built up, supported and lovingly nurtured by the industrial working class of these essentially poor areas. Since industry and indeed the class who toiled in its engines are now little more than a nostalgic memory, I suppose the clubs which emerged from these communities have little other purpose than to provide emotional leverage against the council planners who oppose turning green or even brown fields into endless acres of car parks serving McDonalds, DFS, PC World and all the other usual crap.

My next scheduled stop on my little notepad stuffed under my windshield was Swansea, followed shortly after by Port Talbot, but after riding seventy miles in a monsoon I was cold, my fingers were like prunes and I was getting fed-up. To make matters worse I still had another sixty miles to cover before I got to the YHA at Cardiff so shamefully, now I’m sat in a warm house in Lancashire, I decided to give them a miss and just get on the M4 and find my bed for the night in the capital. It was in reality the only option, I arrived in Cardiff at around four o’clock on the Friday evening and the roads were heavily congested even then, an hour or two later and it would have been like a car park. I’d never ridden or drove in Cardiff before, my previous visits always being by train and then only to Cardiff Arms Park / Millennium Stadium for Rugby matches, so my knowledge of the city is limited. In any event the view I had of Port Talbot from the M4 reminded me of the view of Rotherham from the M1 before they closed all the steelworks so I don’t really think I missed much there: shame about Swansea though.

The £14 a night YHA in Cardiff was different altogether from the hostels of my previous two nights, although the staff were every bit as friendly in this tough urban environment as they had been out in the wilds. The building reminded me of the homeless and junky hostels I occasionally had to work on when I was employed as a maintenance builder for Manchester City Council. A little worried for the Princess’s security I put her in the car park in front of my dormitory’s window and for the first time on my trip chained her up, then, as I was the first hosteller to arrive I went upstairs to choose my bed from the twenty or so empty bunks. I borrowed a hair dryer from the reception to dry out my gloves and left that blowing its hot air into the sodden innards of them while I had a luxurious hot shower. After my 15 minutes of warmth in the shower I felt 100% better, it’s amazing how the body can revitalise itself. After donning fresh dry clothes I decided a nice pint might be in order so wondered up the road looking for a pub. A local chap walking down towards the hostel informed me there was one five minutes up the road but he didn’t know the name of it but when I got there I discovered it to be called the ‘Grape and Olive;’ (or vice-versa) a bit of a trendy Mediterranean ‘wannabe’ place. Still, I went in and ordered a pint of ‘Brains’ bitter and necked it like an old miner. Amusingly the barmaid called me (and everyone else) ‘my lovely.’
Lovely or not, I couldn’t be doing with the fake Med theme so I wondered off further and found ‘The Heath’ pub, a large corner boozer facing an Army barracks, the inside draped with Cardiff City FC and all the rugby nations flags except England. Undeterred I had three or four pints of Brains Black Stout and the local lads were friendly enough. By eight o’clock I’d rediscovered my hunger so went off in search of meaningful sustenance; I ended up with a large kebab from a takeaway and a load of chocolate from a small Sainsburys. Never mind eh? By nine o’clock I was zonked out in my bed in the still deserted dormitory, the testing days riding and South Wales’ finest finally catching up and overwhelming me.
When I woke up at 7.30am I was shocked to find the dormitory almost full, I have no idea who they were or what time they got in. Everyone in the place was sleeping soundly but fortunately I’d arranged all my bike stuff so I could make a quick and quiet get-away; I did just that. I uncovered and unlocked the bike, lashed my bag back on, oiled the chain with Mook’s oil and set off on the twenty mile ride up the A470 to the infamous and tragic village of Aberfan.

Thankfully the weather on this Saturday morning had cleared up and within half an hour or so I had thundered out of Cardiff, past the green green grass fields surrounding Tom Jones’s hometown of Pontypridd and was approaching the roundabout from where I would pick up the A4054 for the remaining four miles into Aberfan.

The peaceful and quite beautiful view of the luscious deep green woods and fields lining the steep sides of the valley on the road to the village made me wonder what someone who knew nothing of Aberfan’s unthinkably terrible 1966 disaster would think on their approach to this little settlement. As it was I had a sense of deep foreboding as I approached the village: a sense multiplied ten-fold when on rounding a corner of the road I caught a distant glance of the cemetery. High up on the other side of the valley overlooking the village with its two long rows of immaculate and identical white granite arches serving as the headstones for the 144 people, 116 of whom were children, who were killed when 40,000 cubic meters of the coal tip from the Merthyr Vale Colliery slipped down the hillside, demolishing a farm, twenty houses and, most catastrophically, the Pantglas Junior School. From the village, which looks remarkably similar to many valley villages of northern Yorkshire, brown signs direct the traveller not to the cemetery but to the Aberfan Memorial Gardens, built on the site of Pantglas School. I followed the signs and parked up the bike on Moy Road, opposite the stone boundary wall and black marble memorial plaque and walked into the pretty yet understated gardens, its flower beds following what I presumed to be the original footprint of the school building. I tried to imagine the dreadful carnage which once, not so very long ago, occurred on this site. As is often the case, visiting such a site causes one to reflect upon one’s own life experiences and sadness’s and I sat for a brief while in the Memorial Garden contemplating the events which have had enormous impact on my life. Quickly, my personal memories of tragedy, dreadful but thankfully few were overwhelmed by a realisation of the sheer enormity of what had happened here. How on Earth did the people of this valley manage to deal with what had happened? How does a community, let alone the families directly effected, robbed of its most precious asset, the children, carry on?

Although the Aberfan disaster took place two years before I was born, I found my visit to Pantglas to be deeply moving. Emotionally, although certainly not structurally, I found Aberfan Memorial Gardens comparable to the huge Great War memorial at Thiepval, Northern France, commemorating the 72,191 missing soldiers of the Somme. Yet despite the enormous loss of life endured during the doomed 1916 offensive, I found the tragic, pointless and totally avoidable loss of that small village’s generation of school kids, sat in their classrooms excitedly awaiting their last day of school before the holidays to be considerably more depressing and saddening.

With 121 miles to ride before my bed for the night at Llangollen, and the time approaching breakfast o’clock, I decided it was time to head north. I rejoined the main A470, quickly shot past Merthyr Tydfil and entered the Brecon Beacons National Park. I had heard and read many times the road through the National Park was a good ‘un’ but on this fine autumnal morning it was simply stunning; so much so that I resisted the temptation to blast through it as fast as the road would allow (which would have been very fast!) and instead toured along the deserted, sweeping, pristine and sublimely smooth surface at around 50-60 mph with my visor up savouring the sights, sounds and smells of this absolutely spectacularly beautiful part of the world. I was enjoying the ride so much I decided my belly could wait for the fry-up and by-passed the town of Brecon as I had spent a weekend there a few years before and continued riding the fabulous road up to Builth Wells. Let there be no mistake, Aberfan to Builth Wells is forty six miles of uninterrupted and as near-as-dam-it perfect motorcycling road.

In Builth Wells’ quaint and eminently historic town centre I quickly found the ‘Fortuna Cafe’ on the main high street and was served with an excellent full breakfast (9/10,) but no sooner had I sat down and begun devouring the gastronomic delights than I noticed big blobs of rain commenced thumping down on the pavement outside. Hoping it was a brief shower I finished up the big ‘breakie’ and headed across the River Wye to the petrol station and from there took the A483 towards Llandrindod Wells.
I’d never ridden the A483 before but I had driven along its spectacular route a couple of years earlier, as a result of that drive I was looking forward to it more than perhaps any part of the tour. However the rain was no passing shower, or if it was it was passing in exactly my direction at exactly my speed. The thirty five mile trek up past Llandrindod Wells and on to Newtown was a thoroughly miserable experience. A brilliant winding motorcycle road with fantastic and spectacular views if the River Ithon valley, along the top of which the road runs, rendered utterly terrifying by biblical rain and near hurricane force winds. Typically, when I had driven this road the weather and views had been fantastic: heading both ways!

Thoroughly pissed off, and pissed through, by the dreadful weather I pulled up in a lay-by just before Newtown and noticed tom-tom was saying forty-odd miles to Llangollen. I decided if it was less than 100 miles back to Anglesey I was going to my house there instead of another night in a bunkhouse in a town I’ve been to many times. I wanted a pint, (maybe more than one) a shower, my couch, my own bed and to talk nonsense back in ‘Y Groeslon’ with the locals. Tom-tom slowly calculated the decision, it was 97.4 miles. I was changing course but I would be taking a north-westerly course through Snowdonia when a fully fledged Atlantic storm was blowing in from the west, ensuring powerful side winds would need contending with.

Tom-tom directed me away from the A483 down some obscure farm roads before dropping me back on the A470 towards Dolgellau once again but from the other direction. I quickly covered the twenty miles to Dolgellau but from there the road began to gain altitude and would soon become more exposed to the ridiculous westerly winds: the good news was at this more westerly location the rain had already blown over. I settled in to the cycle of gusting winds by following, at a reasonable distance, a BMW estate car that was making speedy progress across the high altitude section of the A470. All was going smoothly until just before the village of Trawsfyndd when a mighty and sudden cross-wind took me clean across my lane. I realised I had to back off and dropped the pace down to maybe forty mph but even this wasn’t sufficient shortly after when descending a fairly steep hill with a sharp left hand turn at the bottom the wind once again blew me right across my lane into the filter lane for the right-hand turning to Blaenau Ffestiniog: fortunately the car following was observant enough to realise what had happened and to flash me back onto the main road.

At a by now ‘dead slow’ pace I rumbled back up towards Llanfrothen where I had breakfasted on the first day out of Anglesey, I decided there to re-trace my tyre-tracks and take the mountainous but wooded and somewhat sheltered A4085 to Caernarfon rather than the faster but exposed A487 via Porthmadog to avoid the seriously wild winds blowing in from the Irish Sea.

I had made the right call. On the mountainous forest road you are naturally inclined to ride considerably slower than on the fast coastal route, so despite the many fallen branches, some of which would have de-railed a train, the shelter afforded by the forest made my trip back to Caernarfon much less scary. From Caernarfon I could see the welcoming sight of my village Brynsiencyn about a mile across the Menai Straits. I now just had to blast the five miles or so down to the Britannia Bridge and then the five miles back along the other side of the straits. Ten minutes later I was rounding the corner at ‘Y Groeslon’ and saying to myself, ‘Thank God for that!) It had been a hell of a day.

The ride north had proved to be a curious day of contrasts: the sadness of Aberfan was perfectly countered by the exhilaration of the fabulous ride through the Brecon Beacons; the memory of the fine weather of the morning ride was smashed by the dreadful and seriously threatening storm of the afternoon. I had also deviated for the first time from my planned route and ridden quite a lot further than I had intended in any one day by covering 190 miles between Cardiff and Anglesey. I was however glad to be back in Brynsiencyn and felt a real sense of achievement for enduring what had been a tough ride without major incident. Within a few minutes I had parked up the Princess, gone in the house through the back door, got my helmet and gloves strategically placed in front of a hot air blower, hung up my jacket and was off out of the front door, still wearing my leather pants and bike boots and crossing the road to the pub. Inside ‘Y Groeslon’ the friendly faces of the Saturday afternoon regulars turned away from the TV screen showing the live England v Australia rugby match to greet me, one of them typically wearing an Australia shirt, the others less obviously but equally passionately hoping for an England defeat. ‘You back to watch them (England) lose again then?’ I was asked noticing Australia were in front at half time. The last time I had been in there to watch rugby England were soundly thrashed by Wales causing much merriment to the locals and seeing me being bought several pints by the joyous Welsh, but as England dominated the second half of this match, eventually running out comfortable winners, their intense viewing of the game was replaced by questions and discussions of my trip: who’d been to each of the towns; who’s auntie lived near there; what the names of the towns meant; various tit-bit’s of gossip, and a few unproven accusations about the sexual habits of people in far away rural south and mid Welsh towns, and perhaps most interestingly a long discussion over who was to blame for the Aberfan disaster. The tongues were wagging, the Brains Dark, remarkably similar yet considerably cheaper than the Brains Black Stout I had been drinking in Cardiff twenty four hours earlier tasted wonderful and I was as happy as a sand-boy.

The 119 miles back to Preston the next morning was delayed until the afternoon due to a local downpour in the Anglesey, but once that had passed the dry ride back along the A55, M56 and M6 on the mainland passed without incident. It gave me a pleasant two hours to reflect on what had been a superb trip, my mind now packed full of mental images of new found destinations and magnificent roads. Back in Lancashire I pulled off the dreaded M6, tanked up with petrol at the local supermarket and rode back to base before lovingly tucking the Italian Princess back up in her warm and welcoming garage. In total the trip had only cost me about £250 including all the accommodation, petrol, food and consumed during its five night duration. Admittedly I didn’t have to pay for two nights accommodation at my own house in Anglesey but at YHA rates they would only have added about thirty quid to the total. I challenge Last Minute.com to give me a more memorable, engaging and enjoyable escape from normality for that sort of money. Next years longer six home nations trip is already in the planning stage: a return to St David’s followed by a ferry into southern Ireland; a leisurely cruise up through the Emerald Isle before crossing back from Belfast or Larne to Stranraer; then a circuit of Scottish hostels before dropping back down through the Lake District into Lancashire, possibly with a little detour to the Isle of Man thrown in for good measure. I’m guessing at two and a half weeks to complete the route and around £750 including ferry crossings in cost. I wonder if the bloke at the Turkish poolside might want to enrich his life, expand his mind and get himself a bike?

Equipment Review.
Bike – 2005 Aprilia SL1000 Falco.
In a word, fantastic. The eight year old Aprilia, with 15000 miles on the clock performed perfectly, never missing a beat. It looks great, is comfortable, predictable, smooth, powerful, accurate, practical and pretty economical. The bike averaged over 45 mpg on the hugely varied 800 mile trip while carrying a combined total weight of me and my luggage approaching twenty stones. Considering one of these bikes with this sort of millage could be picked up for about £3000, it makes you wonder why on earth anyone would even dream of paying stupid money for anything else. The full service I had carried out about a month before cost me £150 at ‘H&G Motorcycles’ in Preston and was worth every penny.
Tyres – Michelin Pilot Road 3.
Again in a word, fantastic. In all truth, the weather made no difference to these tyres. At no point did I feel even the slightest moment of uncertainty from them. I paid £218 delivered from ‘Lids Direct’ via ebay for the pair, and a further fifty quid to have them fitted when the bike was being serviced. After nearly 2000 miles they still look brand new and I would recommend them to anyone undertaking this type of trip.
Luggage – Oxford First Time Soft Panniers and Hein Gericke 60L Roll-Top Bag.
I must admit I’m a bit annoyed by the Oxford bags. They fasten onto the bike very well, look ok and offer ample capacity, but, you can’t make use of the numerous D rings when you have the rain covers on making it difficult to lash anything else over the top and utilise the excellent large flat space they create over your bikes back seat. In practice this means on a week-long trip you’re not going to use the rain covers and therefore the bags are not waterproof. Pain in the arse! There also seems to be a problem with the quality as a fair percentage of the stitching on the zips and the Velcro under-seat straps has come un-stitched. Maybe they should re-name the bags ‘Oxford First and Only Time.’ The Hein Gericke bag by contrast, costing less than a tenner, was bullet-proof and totally waterproof. Next trip I shall just strap two of these on the back and have done with it.
Gloves – Knox Outdry.
Very comfortable and reassuring safety-wise. However, they do eventually allow moisture to seep in after a prolonged downpour and the bulky wrist fastening system does make it very difficult to pull the jacket cuff over them as I discovered in South Wales: allowing water running down the sleeves of my jacket to flood them from the inside out. I still prefer them to any other gloves I’ve had but just wish they really could keep the rain out for a full day’s ride.
Jacket – Alpinestars GP Plus Textile.
Great looking, practical and safe (when fitted with the extra ‘Bionic’ chest and back protector armour.) Not bad in the rain unless it becomes monsoon like, quick and easy to take apart and dry in individual layers if it does. Maybe a little cold when damp, especially through the zips for the arm vents but overall a good jacket.
Leather Pants – Frank Thomas.
I don’t know what model these pants are as it doesn’t say on them. I bought them very cheap ( about 35quid) at the now defunct George White shop in Bolton and wish I’d bought another pair. They are excellent quality, totally comfortable, practical and really good in the rain. The day I rode from Cardiff to Anglesey I didn’t bother with waterproof over-pants and I didn’t feel any moisture get through them even after several hours of rain.
Boots – Black’s Waterproof Ankle Boots.
Again, I wish when I bought these I’d got another pair. From Ghostbike’s in Preston these boots were on the clearance rack for only ten quid, they are nice and sturdy and totally waterproof. I will definitely consider another pair of Black’s Boots when these wear out.
Sat-Nav – Tom-Tom Start.
Never mind all this daft talk about £300 bike sat-navs, I used with great effect a three year old Tom-Tom Start car model, the cheapest model they made at that time. It’s fold-up mount was firmly attached with two 5mm stainless steel nuts and bolts with rubber washers to the bikes screen and it’s power supplied by a cheap ebay 12v socket wired directly to the battery. Totally efficient, totally visible and weather protected under the screen, and not bouncing around on some overpriced handlebar mount. Although not impossible, the trip would have been much more difficult without tom-tom, I also firmly believe the device makes for far safer riding on unfamiliar roads by allowing you to glace down and see just how severe the next blind corner is. I know the Puritans and Ludites among our motorcycling family always go on about maps and I do have these in my bag and consult them every night, but a simple list of pre-prepared postcodes or town names on a notepad and a sat-nav make much more sense on the road than unfolding maps in hurricane force winds. I wouldn’t be without tom-tom on a trip like this.
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Old 18 Feb 2014
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Posts: 13
I live between Brecon and Builth. I know the coast road between Swansea and Aberystwyth pretty well, I've toured it many times, although mostly in a transit van......
Gimme a PM if you head down that way again, and I'll point out some places you may find worth visiting.
There is a great privately owned motor museum outside Newgale, which is well worth a visit, for one.
Around the marina in Swansea is a pretty good place on the right night. I pulled in at midnight once, expecting no one there, and was talking to bikers and fishermen till 2 AM.
And I know exactly what you mean about Haverford West, what a nightmare.
And no, missing Cardigan was not a mistake.....
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Old 19 Feb 2014
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Location: Woking, Surrey, UK
Posts: 7
Great post, a good read, well done
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