Talybont on Usk, again, was the location of the Wye Valley Camping. This year was the sixth running of the event and we were blessed with blue skies and hot and sunny weather. Staying on site were Rob, and Dave and Jenny from Wye Valley, John, June and Wally the dog and Ric from the Welsh Centre, Richard from Leics, and Gareth and Ann, Stuart and Lesley invited from the VMCC. Also joining us for some of the days were Jim and Kate Plant and Peter Turnhill.
Most of the campers arrived by Tuesday and had set up by early evening. We were soon settled, in the shade, between two motorhomes catching up and enjoying a cup of tea or an ice cold beer. By 7.30 Rob, Gareth, Ann, Stuart, Lesley adjourned to the Star for an evening meal, leaving John and June to their steak dinner on site. We were joined in the pub by Jim and Kate and later by Dave and Jenny. We did raise a glass (or two) to our missing three musketeers Rod F, Brian C and Dave H who has other commitments like work. No sooner had Rob reached his motorhome after a very convivial evening than the heavens open for rain and a thunderstorm.
Wednesday morning dawned bright and clear and we assembled out on the main road. The riders were Rob, MAC, Dave, Venom, John, Venom, Gareth, Matchless and Stuart and Lesley, Triumph. Once Jim and Eddy, both Venom mounted arrived we set off on the run to the Dean Forest Railway. Our route took us alongside the Monmouth and Brecon Canal to Gilwern, Abergavenny and the Steel Horse for a tea stop. Here we rendezvoused with Wye Valley members, Jerry and Roger, MSS, Chris, Richard and Keith, Venoms, Brian, Viper and Graham, Honda.
Suitable refreshed we set off on virtually traffic free roads to Usk and then on the old Usk to Chepstow road. This too was quiet and has some very nice bendy sections. Care has to be taken as these can be sharp and both up hill and down dale. We did get some lovely views of the countryside. From Chepstow we took the A48, with views of the River Severn on our right, to Lydney and finally left to Norchard, the base of the Dean Forest Railway. Our arrival coincided with the unloading of a coachload of visitors which somewhat delayed our ordering of lunch. We did use the time to check out the museum and shop, the platform and the arrival and departure of a diesel multiple unit and a three coach train hauled by prairie tank number 4551 in BR green livery.
Our afternoon route took us through the forest to Parkend, Coleford and on to Monmouth. Here we took the back roads through Mitchel Troy, Raglan and back to the Steel Horse. It was rather a surprise to find some of our group already supping tea when we pulled up! Apparently they missed the junction at Monmouth and proceeded straight down the dual carriageway. From the tea stop, it was a ride via Abergavenny and Crickhowell for fuel, back to camp. We had covered 95 miles on some lovely roads and were looking forward to our evening meal and a few pints.
That evening, in camp, we were joined by Ric of the Welsh Centre and Peter our editor who had only just travelled up from France. He popped over to our vans on his KSS mk 2 for a chat. It did sound and look nice with the trees of the campsite and the mountain in the background. Jim and Kate joined us in the pub later and Jim explained that he would not be on Thursday’s run as they were booked in for a few days in Amroth, West Wales.
Thursday’s run was to be a 90 mile jaunt over the Brecon Beacons with its beautiful scenery. This was in response to a request that I didn’t take the riders “down the valleys as I would like to see the scenery of the Brecon Beacons.” So on the Thursday morning, Rob, Dave, John and Ric, Velo mounted, with Gareth, Matchless and Stuart and Leslie, Triumph, set off from Talybont. Unfortunately Peter had trouble starting his KSS and was unable to join us. The road to Talgarth gave us some lovely glimpses of Llangorse Lake and the Beacons beyond. The Honey Cafe at Bronllys was the tea stop and John Richardson was there to meet us, having given his Ducati 888 Superbike a shakedown ride from Cardiff. It wasn’t long before the sounds of singles were heard and Eddy and Sheila on Venom and rigid MAC appeared, closely followed by Richard on his Venom.
Our route now took us back towards Brecon on the main A road before turning right at Felinfach onto a nice lane to Llandew, with views of Pen Y Fan and Corn Ddu in the distance. Here, we turned right to reach the B4520. This delightful road, very much suited to the Velos, took us to Lower Chapel and Upper Chapel before turning left over the army range to Garth. The range was deserted except for some crazy sheep, one of which caused a rapid application of my brakes and it crossed in front of me! We pulled in at the lay-by to take in the views overlooking the Irfon Valley. Descending the hill we joined the main road to Llanwyrtyd Wells and lunch.
After lunch we took the lanes and back road to Tirabad and on to the Epynt. We had ridden the east side of the Sennybridge army range in the morning and now we were on the western side. The western side is where the army train with blanks while the eastern side is used for live firing. Both were quiet and empty this day although when I previously reccied the route I saw and heard artillery firing shells into a valley. The views over the Epynt are well worth the ride and the roads too are good. It’s very satisfying for the leader to be able to look around on some bends and see a group of Velos strung out behind. Joining the A40 for a short distance we turned right, at Trecastle, on to the back road to the Swansea Valley. This road took us up yet another mountain with views. The stream running alongside the road was being used by families for picknicks and paddling in the afternoon sunshine. Our afternoon tea stop was at Tafarn y Gareg, on the edge of the Carmarthern Fans. Here we were in conversation with some Belgium motorcyclists who were touring Wales. They came to look at the Velos and film us starting off. I would like to say that all bikes started first kick but mine decided misbehave and pour fuel out of the carb! It did start eventually.
Our final leg was a slight detour along the Heol Senny road which, hugging the side of the mountain, gave us views of the Crai Reservoir below and later the valley and mountains towards Ystradfellte, before going over the mountain to the A470. Then it was a quick squirt to Brecon and back to the camp. The run covered almost 90 miles of probably some of the best and most scenic roads over the Beacons.
Rob, Ric, Gareth, Ann, Stuart and Leslie went off to the White Hart pub for our evening meal and we finished the night off, along with John, June and Wally the dog, outside the motorhomes. We chatted and discussed the last few days. As our rides had all been longer than normal, one discussion concerned the distance involved to ride the Devil’s Staircase. This formed part of the day 2 route used in the Internatioanl Six Days Trial of 1949 based at Llandrindod Wells and won by the British Team. After a few night caps of whisky the unanimous decision was made that we all come back next year. Hope to see you there.