Riders: Brian Purnell (Tour Leader), Jeremy Weekes, Neil Fuller with Cheryl Fuller as pillion, Nick Heape, Dave Plowman, Ted Webb, Iain Kennedy, Stephen Baker, Jude Brooks, Brian Williamson, Jim Leese, Pete Shaw (Guest of Jim Leese & an IAM RoadSmart member).
The unanimous opinion amongst all tour members was that the 2016 DWDAM tour of Mid and North Wales was a resounding success. Ten of the twelve riders plus a pillion left Dorchester at 9am on the 2nd June for Betws y Coed, Gwynedd, where pre booked accommodation at the Stables Lodge, Royal Oak Hotel, was waiting. The other two riders joined enroute, Pete Shaw at Leigh Dealmere West Services on the M4 and Iain Kennedy who’s bike had developed an ABS technical problem, joined at the Bikers' Steel Horse Café, Llanvihangel Gobion, near Abergavenny for lunch.
The aim of the tour was to ride as many of the great bikers' routes and roads for which Wales is so renowned. Daily mileage was set at a minimum of two hundred which together with nearly two hundred and seventy to and from Betws y Coed return mde a total tour mileage in excess of 1200 miles. After a great ride into Wales via the M48 Severn Bridge, by passing Chepstow, into Usk and then cross country all the way to Betws y Coed via Brecon, the B4520 Lower and Upper Chapel road, across the B4519 Sennybridge military range, Garth, Beulah, Rhayader, Llanidloes and Bleanau Ffestiniog, arriving safely at 6.30pm.
The next four days were spent riding some glorious roads with bends of all types, excellent tarmac, stunning scenery and unbelievable weather. At times you had to pinch yourself and wonder was this really the UK? The group rode the famous Nantgwynant Pass with its numerous tight bends bordered by granite rock walls (no room for error here) to Beddgelert, the tight Llanberis Pass to Capel Curig, the lovely ride past Llyn Ogwen (the deepest fresh water lake in Wales) on the A5 which runs through to Bethesda (where roof slates are still quarried today), over the Thomas Telford Menai Suspension Bridge for lunch at the Oyster Catcher Restaurant, Rhosneiger, on the Isle of Anglesey, a circular tour of Anglesy and through the old town of Beaumaris with its medieval castle. Further rides on the Wales mainland included a ride to the famous Ponderosa Cafe, Horseshoe Pass, Llangollen, a meca for bikers from all over North Wales and North West England. If nothing else it's worth the effort just to ride up Horseshoe Pass. 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 not forgetting the almost traffic free roads which run through the Snowdonia National Park between Ysbyty Ifan, LLan Ffestiniog and Bala. These roads wind their way across the Migneint moorlands which today are devoid of human inhabitants but with plenty of sheep with their lambs. A tour to Wales wouldn't be complete with a visit to the Lake Vyrnwy Hotel which overlooks the reservoir. Yet more stunning views.
Given the favorable weather conditions, a decision was made to ride up Bwlch y Groes Pass which starts from Dinas Maddwy, Pass of the Cross or Hellfire Pass as it is known in English, to its summit and down the other side to Llanuwchllyn, near Bala, and up again via the mountain pass which starts off at Rhos-y-gawliau and winds its way steeply to the summit and descends down to Rhiwargor and Lake Vyrnwy. These two passes are both on unclassified, single track roads but on the whole, with good road surfaces and perfectly safe for riding if done in clear weather with good visibility. This area of Wales is wild, desolate but stunningly beautiful. A real test of road riding skills too. Just to add a bit of variety to the tour, a west coast ride of the Welsh coast to Harlech with its magnificent medieval castle, Barmouth, Tywyn and Aberdovey were included. The coastal road linking all these places particularly around Aberdovey is not dissimilar to the Amalfi coast in Italy. Steep rocky walls on one side, colourful flowers and the River Dovey estuary on the other - simply stunning scenery. Other routes included the wonder full B4391 Llangynog to Bala. This road climbs steeply and pass through a stunning gorge before it leveling out across desolate but relatively a traffic free road, apart from sheep and lambs.
Four of the group left a day early due to work commitments whilst another two rode back independently on the last day as they had relatives to visit in the area. The remainder of the group rode back via Newtown and the twisty A483 to Builth Wells. Once through Chepstow, the group retraced the outbound ride on Day One. before returning to Dorset.
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 National park in all its glory, an excellent variety of well surfaced roads which catered for all levels of riding experience, a quite marvelous hotel with excellent 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. A special thank you to everyone on the tour for their support and commitment - a group of thirteen on a tour is a testimony to how popular such tours have become. By the way, total tour mileage did exceed 1200. Roll on 2017 !
(And thanks must go to Brian for all his hard work in organising and running the trip. Ed. - Click here for Brian's full diary of the tour)
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