6 Day Trip to Wales led by Brian Purnell

Friday 12th June to Wednesday 17th

Day 1 

Nine riders, Brian Purnell, Geoff Brazier, Jeremy Weekes, Neil Fuller, Nick Heape, Dave Plowman, Ted Webb, Jim Williams and Iain Kennedy departed from Top of Town, Dorchester on a dry and sunny Sunday morning to ride 175 miles to Rhayader, Powys, Mid Wales. The first section was to Fowlers Motorcycles in Bristol for a brunch then a relatively short ride via the Avon Gorge and Avonmouth to the Steel Horse Cafe at Llanvihangel Gobion on the B4598 between Usk and Abergavenny which becoming a very popular bikers café. The last section was a 70 plus mile ride to Rhayader via the B4558 to Brecon via Talybont-on-Usk and then picking up the B4520 Lower and Upper Chapel road out of Brecon, the B4519 to Garth up and over the Military training range, down to Garth and on to Beulah on the A483 before picking up the B4358 to Newbridge on Wye and then the A470 to Rhayader. Eventually arriving at Ty Morgans bar for a welcome glass and nice dinner whilst reflecting on great roads and wonderful scenery and a memorable day's riding.

Day 2

At breakfast Brian found himself an admirer when a lady member of staff insisted on calling him "Honey" when all he did was to ask for some honey with his porridge. “Honey” soon escalated to "Darling" and "Sweetheart" when he asked for more coffee and toast although rumour has it that the lady had been "put up to it," by whom we wonder? After breakfast, we poked our heads outside and the weather wasn't good with fog and rain in abundance, however, all but Nick set off out for a ride. Given the severity of the conditions, we decided to stay on the A class roads and initially headed north west on the A470 to Llangurig before bearing left onto the A44 towards Aberystwyth. We decided to stop at the Red Kite Centre where they have a nice cafe - coffee and an opportunity to dry and clean helmet visors was most welcome. At this point Neil and Dave decided to return to Rhayader - Neil had a good enough excuse - it was after all his birthday. On arrival at the café Iain had noticed that the exhaust on his bike had lost a bolt which held the exhaust securely to the frame. A quick search on the Sat Nav gave a garage in Aberystwyth. The garage was soon found and Iain was successful in gaining a suitable bolt and tools to re-secure the exhaust on his bike. From here we headed off on the A487 to Machynlleth and the A470 towards Llanbrynmair and the Museum of Clocks where there is very good café for lunch. Following this we took the B4518 over Bryn y Fan to Llanidloes (a great road and scenery), stopped at Llanidloes to refuel and then on to Newton and the return to Rhayader via the famous A483 with its numerous challenging bends of all types. I think everyone enjoyed this particular leg and despite the weather, we made good progress back to Rhayader in time to celebrate Neil's birthday along with a few beers at the Bar at Ty Morgans.

Day 3

Dry and sunny. Due to work commitments both Jim and Jeremy had to leave us, Jim after breakfast and Jeremy after the first coffee stop. The day was dry and sunny and we decided to head south in the direction of Builth Wells, take the B4520 in reverse to Brecon, where we stopped for coffee. From Brecon, now down to seven, we headed west on the A40 to LLandovery where we stopped at the famous West End Cafe, a popular bikers cafe. At this point Brian discovered that his side stand was working itself loose. A round up of tools took place and Neil as ever, managed to tighten the two bolts sufficiently to hold the stand in place. After the usual helpings of ice creams, we headed off further south on the A40 before taking the A482 at Llanwrda towards Cwman. A good road but spoilt by having a lowered speed limit of 50 mph for quite a stretch. At Cwman, we took the B4343 to Tregaron. On this road we came across our first and one and only RTC whereby a biker appeared to have gone into the nearside hedge. on a right hand bend. Heddlu (Police) and a Recovery Truck were present but thankfully the rider appeared to be OK. We stopped in Tregaron for lunch before carrying on again on the B4343 to Devil's Bridge. However, before doing so, more repairs to Brian's bike as a bulb on the dipped beam blew. Yet again, Neil came to the rescue with a spare bulb. On arrival at Devil's Bridge, we took the Elan Valley road via Cwmystwyth and then followed a scenic ride through the Elan Valley via the various Reservoirs back to Rhayader. Cattle grids, wandering sheep and lambs and in abundance on the road with the odd cattle on verges but that is the very nature of the Elan Valley.

Day 4

We departed Rhayader and headed north for Moelfre, Angelsey, to the Ty Dderw Country Inn, our base for two nights. The first leg was a ride to Lake Vyrnwy where we stopped for lunch. In order to make good progress we agreed would keep to A roads as much as possible. We headed north taking the A470 all the way to Mallwyd via Llangurig (where we first stopped to refuel at a local garage and Brian managed to have the bolts on his bike's side stand properly secured), Llanidloes, Caersws, Llanbrynmair, Mallwyd where we took the A458 towards Llangadfan and then the B4395 to Lake Vyrnwy. A really beautiful location with stunning scenery. From here we headed north again, this time for Bala via the B4391, which is yet another wonderful road which climbs out of Llangynog and passes through yet more stunning scenery. On arrival Bala, we headed for the A4212, another lovely road. We stopped by Llyn Celyn for some more photos before moving off for the B4391 again. This particular stretch to Llan Ffestiniog is a gem of a road. I think on this section Neil had had enough of being at the rear filming with his front mounted Go Pro camera and by the time we arrived at Llan Ffestiniog he loomed large in my rear view mirrors. Next stop was Betws-y-Coed via the fabulous A470 Crimea Pass. Another ice cream stop followed before we headed off into Snowdonia on the A5 and on to Anglesey, over the Britannia Bridge, where we took a west to east circuit of the island before arriving at our two day / night accommodation at Moelfre. In hindsight, this last leg of the island was a bit too long with everyone starting to feel tired and keen to get out of the saddle. Nevertheless, a great day with some fantastic roads and scenery.

Day 5

Saw us head back into Snowdonia via Beddgelert, Nantgwynnant Pass, Llanberis Pass and Llanberis where we stopped for lunch at a very nice cafe with outside seating. After lunch, we retraced our steps and headed back up Llanberis Pass to the summit where the Snowdonia YHA Lodge is, back down to the junction with the A498 and onto Capel Curig. On reaching the A5, we headed east via Betws-y-Coed to Pentrefoelas where we took the A543 across the Denbigh Moors to Denbigh. What a fabulous road with wonderful scenery to boot and very little traffic. From Denbigh, we headed to Ruthin and picked up the A525 and A542 to the famous Ponderosa Cafe at the summit of the Horseshoe Pass. Hundreds of bikers gather here especially at weekends. After a stop for a welcome cup of tea, we headed down Horseshoe Pass towards Llangollen and the A5 for the return ride to Moelfre, Anglesey. A brilliant day's riding. In the bar that evening, Brian was presented with two jars of Welsh Honey and a signed tour team thank you card in appreciation of all the work he had done in planning the tour which included a six day recee trip to the region back in April. As this was the last evening together, it was decided to go out for an end of tour dinner and we all headed by taxi to the Tavern on the Bay Restaurant at Red Wharf Bay. A fabulous location, great meal, excellent company - what more could you ask for.

Day 6

Departure and return to Dorset, was upon us. Nick decided to have an early start before breakfast and head back home on his own via the A55 North Wales Express Way and the Motorway system. The rest of us 

started off at 9am and the route initially taken was via Menai Bridge (crossing the Menai Straits via the Thomas Telford Suspension Bridge) and then west via the A487 to Caernarfon and then a southerly route on the A487 to Porthmadog, the A470 to Trawsfynydd, by passing Dolgellau and south on the A487 again to Machllyneth. What should have been a great ride through some lovely scenery became a fog bound, two hour ride. It was definitely the low point of the tour but beyond our control. A most welcome coffee stop at Machllyneth followed. Afterwards we headed south on A470 towards Llanidloes, Llangurig, Rhayader and Builth Wells where we stopped to refuel in readiness for the final leg back to Dorset. Enroute we stopped at the Steel Horse Cafe at Llanvihangel Gibon for early afternoon lunch. Fully bodily refueled, with improved weather, we set off for Usk, Chepstow, over the old Severn Bridge and the M48, by passing Bristol on the M5 and home via Bridgewater, Yeovil, Dorchester and Weymouth. All in all, a total of 1100 miles ridden.

 

A great tour, some fantastic, technically demanding roads to ride with their many bends of all types, wonderful scenery, brilliant company - everyone gelled together and yes, we had a lot of laughs (some at the expense of Brian but all good fun !!) and most definitely, an enjoyable time. For some it was their first time visit to the Principality and ride the many stunning roads it has to offer. Unlikely to be their last so here is to the next Wales tour in 2016.

Brian Purnell

Tour Leader

24 June 2015

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