Wilts Wing it Westward

An epic trip to Wales (without getting wet)

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Let’s have a ride-out to join the South Wales branch on their Annual Rally ride-out. “Great idea!”, said everyone in the room. So we made a plan with the intention of meeting during the ride-out lunch stop at The Owls Nest in Llandovery.

On the day, everyone in the room ended up as 5 bikes, one with a pillion. Two solo bikes started in Tidworth, early on the Saturday morning, meeting up with a solo and a pillion pair in Swindon at 8:30 in the morning. The meet up with the fifth bike, and our “local guide” for the next legs of the ride, was Ross-on Wye at 10:00, so little time was wasted with scenic routes, preferring to stay ahead of schedule. A quick coffee break and then back on the road headed for Hay along some great riding roads. We stopped for a leg stretch and comfort break at The Old Railway Line Garden Centre in the Wye Vally, where we spotted the most amazing custom job on a Honda Super Dream.

By this time it was pretty clear that we’d been wildly optimistic about making it to lunch in time to catch the rally ride, but carried on to take our own lunch at The Owls Nest, arriving just before the first rain shower of the trip. Fortunately, the café catered for variable weather conditions and we enjoyed some pretty epic burgers and a cuppa.

We decided then to take the 21 mile run to the Rally campsite in the Brecon Beacons. I plugged the location into my uber-reliable BMW sat-nav and off we set. True to form, the fabled device found us the narrowest, twistiest, steepest, and gravelliest tracks to get us there, but 30 minutes of challenging grind rewarded us with some epic riding across the top of the hills, with cattle grids, sheep in the road, big skies, and the beautiful sense of freedom in the wilderness.

A little bit too soon we were back on two lane tarmac and looking out for the camp site. A slightly premature turn-off instruction from the sat-nav took us back to the Jurassic period, and a great photo opportunity.

Shortly afterwards we found the right turn-off and rolled up to the rally marquee to a warm welcome from Murray, with brews, biscuits and cake aplenty. The second shower of the day came along while we were there, and so, once more, luck was on our side as the marquee had plenty of room for us while the majority of the rally attendees were still out on the road.

After the rain, and some discussion about routes home during which the ride-out returned, we bade our farewell and got back on the road. Yet more fabulous riding roads fell beneath our wheels on the way to our final refreshment stop at the oldest inn in Wales.

By this time, we were all feeling the mileage, but we still had a bit of a trek to get back to Wiltshire. We parted company with our guide once back at Ross, and then made best speed back to Swindon and Tidworth. 335 miles and 13 hours door to door for the riders from Tidworth, this was a truly epic ride-out, worthy of the saddle-sore title.

Riders: Jimmy, Nick, Sean, Don, Daz (Welsh guide). Pillion: Mazzi. Photographers: any random person who happened to be passing!