Wales in Winter : Wales in a Weekend : Day 2 : 21/02/2017

If you happen to be a Twitter or Instagram User and do this Wales in a Weekend route (or something similar through Wales) I have used the hashtags (Wales In Winter & Winter In Wales) #WalesInWinter and #WinterInWales – make sure to add to them!

Weather Report Wales 21/02/2017
Weather Report Wales 21/02/2017

It’s Day 2 – although for the Wales in a Weekend Route it is actually Day 1.  Confusing eh?

If you made it to this post via some strange and startling way then the simple explanation is that Day 1 (for me) was actually a travel day from Northern Ireland to the start of this route.

In case you missed it Day 1 can be found here : http://tbni.blog/2018/02/22/wales-in-winter-wales-in-a-weekend-day-1-20-02-2017/

The route can be found here : https://www.adventurebikerider.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=140&t=36263&hilit=wales+in+a+weekend

Should you need it the sat nav gpx file can be found here : Wales in a Weekend Sat Nav GPX Download Link

As I concluded in my write up of Day 1 this first day of the actual route was set to be a wet one.

The overnighter at the Mount Pleasant Hotel was just that – pleasant.  The bed was very comfortable, the place was clean, tidy and friendly.  The shower lacked a bit of power but no doubt the rain that was forecast for arround midday should sort that right out!

However I was experiencing one slight hiccup…

The battery didn’t seem right.  The bike started fine but it seemed as if it was struggling, and with two days ahead of me through the Brecon Beacons and then Snowdonia I didn’t want this to become an issue so I took the opportunity to stop off at Riders of Cardiff – The closest Official BMW Mottorad Dealership – and have it checked out.

Day 1 - Ready to go from Aberdare
Day 1 – Ready to go from Aberdare

The result was a couple of hours of a detour.  Other than that it was a clean bill of health.  Riders were extremely helpful taking the bike in straight away, testing the battery and checking for any drain or other issues and even giving the bike a good thorough health check.  The battery was declared to be good, I was even advised against wasting money on a battery.  All in all I was set back £31.68.  The health check did point out a defective aux light switch and that the bike was dirty and wet.  That was indeed true, my bike was dirty and wet.

At 11:33 hours I was actually on my way, proper.

Miskin Manor Hotel, Wales
Miskin Manor Hotel, Wales

The official starting point of the route is Miskin Manor Hotel, this place looks amazing, a bit out of my budget, who knows though – maybe one day.

From here you make your way through the Rhondda Valley and a string of old mining towns.  These are amazing to take in, you can really see the history of these towns as you pass through them, my enjoyment of them though was hampered by road works, poorly synced temporary traffic lights and more road works.  This meant horrible traffic jams, and with the luggage on the boxes and the relatively small roads filtering through wasn’t an option – I was stuck in the queues.  I may as well have been in a bus but it would have needed to be an open top bus as I was getting pounded my the rain which for the most part could best be described as torrential.

Spoiler Alert : I did do this route again about 6 months later and all of these problems had been resolved – the road works were complete and the traffic normal, making this section much more enjoyable!

Never fear though, when I got out of the towns things started to get really good, really quickly.

Wales in Winter
Wales in Winter
Wales in Winter - View from the Cockpit
Wales in Winter – View from the Cockpit
Glyncastle Forest - Apparently there is a forest here
Glyncastle Forest – Apparently there is a forest here

I’m sure one stopping point of note for many would be the Penderyn Distillery.  It is right on the route, so no detour is even needed.  You can do a tour which at the time cost about £9 and included two samples.  I didn’t do the tour, nor sample the whiskey, however the smell is in the air.  It is gorgeous.  I’d imagine even if you didn’t drink whiskey you’d struggle not to like the smell.

Penderyn Distillery, Wales
Penderyn Distillery, Wales

From here it is onto the B4519 which takes you through the MOD Training Area of Sennybridge.  This place looks amazing, so rugged it is easy to see why the military train here.  It’s a tough landscape that I can only imagine would be brutal for training.  Just remember when you think the weather is grim (and you’re lucky enough to be touring on your bike) – it could always be worse…

Sennybridge Taining Area, Wales
Sennybridge Taining Area, Wales

Those guys literally appeared from nowhere, visibility was so low it could easily have been something out of a horror movie about Werewolves.

Watch out for sheep though – there are no fences, no boundaries and the sheep couldn’t care less about the Highway Code or any other road etiquette.  Some are particularly aggressive and will attempt to stare you out.  They are the dangerous ones!

I do feel that due to the weather I missed out on a lot of scenery through the Beacons, at one point I was right beside a lake.  I had absolutely no idea.  I imagine this place is stunning on a good day.  In saying that the atmosphere it has when covered in mist, fog and rain should be experienced too.  It is the UK after all, we aren’t exactly known for our sunshine and blistering temperatures.

Brecon Beacons, Wales
Brecon Beacons, Wales
Brecon Beacons, Wales
Brecon Beacons, Wales

Without the backdrop of the tower (above) that is the view across the reservoir.

After a quick stop at Paddy Sweeny’s Catering for a burger and a cup of tea it is on to the town of Brecon.

Paddy Sweeny's Catering, Brecon Beacons, Wales
Paddy Sweeny’s Catering, Brecon Beacons, Wales
Paddy Sweeny's Catering, Brecon Beacons, Wales
Paddy Sweeny’s Catering, Brecon Beacons, Wales

That burger was tasty!  The lady working in the van was friendly – a big fan of Belfast too.

Brecon has a great history and still is very significant to the military.  It’s well worth reading a little more about it : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brecon

On the way into the town you will pass a great looking castle.  I couldn’t find a good spot to get stopped and get a good photograph so be prepared for it as you come into Brecon, you might get lucky.  There is a car park next to the Cathedral though so getting a snap there should prove to be easy enough.

Brecon Cathedral, Wales
Brecon Cathedral, Wales
IMG_7763
Brecon Beacons Red Flag

From Beacon the next section of the route takes you to the Devil’s Staircase.  To find it you’ll need to make sure you use the postcode LD5 4TR.  Don’t worry though if you use the GPX supplied it’s already in there and you really won’t want to miss this section.

Thankfully the weather cleared up a little for this section meaning I got to actually take in the scenery.  Rugged and stunning still prevails.

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As you can probably see from the first of these pictures the ford crossing point isn’t far away from flooding.  Allegedly it is a frequent occurrence for it to actually flood, so proceed with caution.  The ‘Staircase’ section starts a short distance after this ford so if you can’t pass your only option will to turn back and follow the ‘main’ roads to Aberystwyth.  Unfortunately you will then miss the most technical section of this route.

The Devil’s Staircase road twists and turns with a few hairpins thrown in for good measure along with a 25% incline.  It is very interesting, stunning and even a little scary, but more importantly it is enjoyable.  I’d imagine a few bikes have got laid down on this section.

As you can also see from the photos above if you stop in the right place you can get a Red Post Box and a Red Phone Box in the one photo.  If you angle yourself correctly you could maybe even squeeze in a waterfall.  A ‘photo-rallier’s’ dream spot!

From the Devil’s Staircase it is a short ride to the overnight pit stop of Aberystwyth.

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Aberystwyth looks like a proper seaside town, a traditional seafront and traditional seafront properties.  My accommodation for the evening was in one such seafront properties, a hotel called ‘The Glengower.’  For £50 I considered it a bit of a bargain.  A clean and tidy room with Freeview TV and WiFi – all my boxes were ticked.

The Glengower Hotel, Aberystwyth
The Glengower Hotel, Aberystwyth

After a stormy ‘dander’ (Northern Irish slang for ‘walk’) along the seafront it was dinner time and this is really where the Glengower comes into its own.  Its food and bar.

Their selection of whiskeys is outstanding…

The Glengower Bar, The Glengower Hotel, Aberystwyth
The Glengower Bar, The Glengower Hotel, Aberystwyth

And their 6oz house burger isn’t bad either (actually it is amazing)…

The Glengower Food, The Glengower Hotel, Aberystwyth
The Glengower Food, The Glengower Hotel, Aberystwyth

£15 for the house burger, chips, a pint of Coke and a pint of water… can not complain about that, especially when accompanied by a seafront view as the weather closes in.  No need for a TV when you can relax, chill out and watch the storm come in.

Tip : If the weather is rough do not park your bike on the Promenade, the salt water will blow in, but more than that you will notice the road littered with pebbles – all thrown here by the rough sea.  You do not want your bike playing ping-pong with these pebbles all night as well as getting continually drenched by the salty sea spray.

The weather report for Day 3 did not improve, in fact it got worse.  Storm ‘Doris’ was due so it was going to be wet, wild and windy.  So far so good with the gear though, it has all held up and underneath I have stayed warm and dry.  (Except my pinlock which seems to have sprung a leak and needed a good clean and a slight adjustment.)

No such thing as bad weather only bad gear.

IMG_7869
Pinlock needing a dry out and slight adjustment
Weather forecast for 22/02/2018
Weather forecast for 22/02/2018

Additional Links :

Wales in Winter : Wales in a Weekend : Day 3 : 22/02/2017

In case you missed it : Wales in Winter : Wales in a Weekend : Day 1 : 20/02/2017

21/02/2017 : Wales In Winter : Day 2

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