To make full use of the 4 day holiday, the Wales trip started right after a full 8 hour work day, on wednesday May 16th. I would only have until the next Sunday to get back. I would be taking the Eurotunnel train that evening, and make for a B&B in Folkestone for the night. I only had that first B&B, and the two-way ticket through the tunnel booked before I left. I would be stuck to B&Bís, since I didnít yet have all the camping gear, let alone the panniers to carry it. I only had an old Krauser topcase, probably around 30 year old.
The ride through Belgium was boring, and frustrating due to traffic jams around Antwerp and Brussels. Was full of anticipation however, so didnít mind too much at the time.
Arrival at the tunnel was frustrating, got there 3 minutes late (literally THREE MINUTES) and they put me back to a 11pm crossing that night. Eventually got on at 10, still 3 hours later than planned. I knew however this frustration was my controlfreak-side acting up, and this would be all part of the adventure, so didnít let it get to me.
Train-man directing how they wanted the bike placed.
Only biker on the train!
Started the next day following the English coast for a bit (donít have any pics of that, donít know why), but eventually found the motorway west towards Wales. It felt liberating, riding in a general direction but not knowing where I would end up at the end of the day. Might be normal for many of you people, but remember this was my first trip of this kind so I wasnít used to it.
Having a great time though!
Ended up around the Pontypool area, right next to the Black Mountains and Brecon Park. Finding something was more difficult than I thought, but eventually (with some mobile-internet) found Ty Shon Jacob farm, a nice gem on the top of some mountain. Price was cheap, and had the best room ever! Ensuite bathroom with golden watertaps!
I know this may not be in the ADV riding spirit. Sue me.
After cleaning up I took my DSLR and had a walk around the farm:
The driveway, nice little dirt road.
Met one of the locals.
Another resident, very old and gentle.
Next day went west for a little bit, and wanted to cross the Brecon Park and go north over an interesting looking old Roman road I found on Google Maps before I left.
First nice view of the trip, crap panorama-stitching though. Click on it for higher resolution.
Southern part of the Brecon Park, now the surroundings are getting interesting.
Some horses appeared on the road, I was clearly not in the Netherlands anymore.
Found the Roman road, this was the only three for kilometres around.
Saw some nice gravel road splitting of the main road, going in the mountains. Decided to find out where it would go. The gravel soon turned in boulders the size of my head though, so turned back. I had no real off-tarmac experience whatsoever, and this was a little too much for the first go. Crossed a nice big puddle in the process!
Looking back, now after my Scandinavian experiences, this is peanuts. At the time, not so much.
That was fun!
A little later, found this standing stone.
Some googling afterwards, found this stone was called 'Maen Llia', and the road is part of the Sarn Helen trail.
Going north from that point, and after a while more west towards the coast. Was about half way up along the length of Wales then, and reached the coast at Tywyn.
Most western point of the trip.
Going back inland, found a place to stay at the Star Inn in Dylife.
Road to the inn.
The inn dated back to 1640, and I think the mattress I slept on was from the same period. Food wasnít that good either, but met some people that were there for some rally that would take place the next day.
Nice little inn.
Next day I left before the rally would take place and the road would be closed. Decided to head back north, I regretted my decision going back south the previous day and figured I had enough time to go into the Snowdonia park.
The day started off wet, and I found out about the danger called Ďcattle gridsí. If they are wet, you need to cross them in a straight line, without changes in speed or direction since there is no grip whatsoever on the wet metal.
I eventually found my way to the Snowdonia mountains though.
Didnít get all the way to the top of Wales, and went back south in the afternoon. Found a place to stay at Moto-bnb
, owned by Rik Davis who spent 3.5 years riding around the world
. I had put the address in my gps before I left home, considering going there if I was in the area. He didnít have a full room available, but he had a bed in a small side room. Good enough for me!
Not very adventurous maybe, but again, sue me.
I cannot even begin to say how good the stay was, and how hospitable Rik was. If you are going riding in Wales, DEFINITELY try to stay at his B&B. The facebook page
is full of testimonials of people with the same opinion.
The bikes could stay dry in the shed, under a cover (the cover over mine was already off), and make friends with the legend bike on the left.
The legend itself.
Next morning at breakfast had a nice chat with the other guests, bikers from the UKGSer forums, but I couldnít stay for long. Had a train to catch as I had to be back at work the next day!
The ride home was amazingly boring, used some smaller roads to Oxford but nothing other than motorway from then on. Doesnít matter, I was more determined than ever to make the Nordkapp trip happen!