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2014 Taith Cymru - 23rd March

Welcome to our report on the Taith Cymru contribution to the HRCR Scenic Tours’ Series, sponsored by Clayton Classics and organised by the HRCR South Wales Region. The start of this tour was in the small border town of Hay-on-Wye, famously known as the country’s premier book town and boasting over 24 such shops. The organisers had chosen the Swan Inn for breakfast and documentation and this was ideally suited, having the cattle market car park opposite to swallow up the capacity entry of 60 cars. On receipt of our tour pack, we checked the overall map and were very impressed with the areas we were going to travel through. Driver Mike will have only seen a lot of these roads in the dark in his 60/70’s road rally days; they will surely look much different in daylight - and the big drops can now be seen!

Hilary then set about marking up her road book which was very clear and precise, with 187 tulip directions to be followed during the day - this was going to keep both crew members busy! Running at Car 8, we left the start at 09.23 hours for the first leg of the tour. Driving to the north-west, we were soon in some very interesting roads, heading for Clyro and then onto the open moorland roads with fantastic views and many sheep to keep us company. Between the pretty village of Cregrina and Hundred House, the weather gods gave us rain, snow and sunshine that resulted in some dramatic skies. Continuing on to Crossgates (more rally memories), we came to the first passage check in the café and were given a 15-minute rest halt. We had now covered 22.81 miles of the route and the road book was matching our Brantz Meter very well - just 11 hundredths out.

We left the café in a northerly direction towards Llanbister and Cantel and again these very quiet roads were a joy to be driving on - very undulating and scenic. Part of this road was designated as Cycleway 825, but we were glad we were in a car - it must be jolly hard work on a bike! More roads with breathtaking views took the route through Llanbadarn-Fynydd and then to a short main road link following the river. Next on the agenda was Llaithddu, where we passed through a farm with a number of derelict cars to be seen - even a Del Boy 3-wheeler - all looking very tired and in need of a good home!

The roads now took us up to a height of 466 metres and into Bwlch-y-Sarnau, which was now above the snow line. From here, the scenery changed to very testing roads through the forest area and some of the climbs were making Dippy a little breathless! Another memorable name came next - the small town of Rhayader, with its magnificent clock tower standing proud at the cross roads in the town centre. On the outskirts of the town, we turned right onto the Aberystwyth Mountain Road - not an easy junction to find as there was a choice of 2 roads here, but the very accurate road book kept us on the straight and narrow. This road had it all - waterfalls, lichen-covered trees and snow-capped mountains – and must be a photographer’s paradise!

Entering the Elan Valley area and crossing the weak bridge, Hilary did ask if she should get and walk, but no problem - we survived! Climbing once again to another weak bridge and for the second time above the snow line, we came to Penygarreg Reservoir and Dam. Continuing alongside the water, we came to the Elan Valley Visitor Centre which was the tour’s lunch halt. This was a superb venue with lots of space and visitor attractions on offer. Our route cards were held by the officials until our correct leaving time - a great idea that stops convoys of cars building up.

Leaving the Elan Valley Centre behind, the route continued to the metal bridge, where we turned right, crossed the bridge and were then into some more classic roads to the village of Llanarthwl. Another short run passing the Vulcan Arms (more rally memories of petrol halts here) took us to Llanafan Fawr and, as a bonus, we had a red kite flying alongside the car - what a sight! The next place of note was Llangammarch Wells, which was followed by a visit to Cefn Gorwydd and then 2 more miles to the second passage control.

From the passage control, there was a short run to the village of Tirabad, on the edge of the famous Epynt Ranges. The route across the ranges was to follow the Llywel signs, which would eventually bring us onto Llewellyn’s Way. The sun was now with us and the German Village looked a picture as we climbed the mountain. Motoring on past Dixies, we were now descending and the views just got better and better. All too soon, the dual carriageway came into view and we arrived at the now derelict Greystones Motel - this place could tell some rally tales! Turning left onto the public road, we continued via Trecastle to Sennybridge for Passage Control 3 in the roadside café and time for another short break.

From the main road, a right slot took us once again back to the classic roads, passing through Defynnog and Crai, offering a mixture of forest and moorland terrain with magnificent views. Next on the route was Heol Senni that gave possibly the best views and roads of the tour - what a climax to the tour! After passing close to the Rhaendra Waterfalls, we crossed over the border and into the Borough of Cynon. Just one more village on the route - Penderyn - with its distillery offering tours and tastings - sadly no time to stop today! Another mile plus and the route left the public road at Ty Newydd for the private drive to the hotel and the finish of the 135-mile tour.

The impressive old hotel building was built by local coal baron William Llewellyn and is now run as a private family hotel business. Within a very short time of finishing, we were presented with our finishers’ awards of two very nice coffee mugs and then served a splendid 3-course meal by the efficient hotel staff. Our thanks go to the organising team and the marshals who gave us such a fantastic day’s motoring. It was certainly a 5-star tour that gave very good value for the entry fee we paid and has certainly set a very high benchmark for the 2014 series.   

 

Our sincere thanks to Peter Fieldhouse for all his help in compiling and editing our report and also to Martin Saunders for his help with the photographs.

 

Hilary and Mike Stratton - Car 8 - plus Dippy