Pembrokeshire Weekend (8th-11th October 2021)
GETTING BACK IN THE SADDLE
After so many Section events being cancelled over the previous 18 months it was great to be back in the saddle for a long weekend touring trip to South Wales. Our Somerset Section organises two long distance touring weekends each year, one to west Wales in April and the other to Cornwall in early autumn. So, we have been eager to get riding again.
As both of the usual destinations were cancelled due to Covid complications it was decided to split the difference for a new adventure and head off to Pembrokeshire. Booking a hotel a year in advance for a medium sized group has to be an initial guess for how many members will actually do the run in 6 or 9 months time. After much searching the Lamphey Court Hotel, near Pembroke was our destination of choice and rooms booked for twenty people.
Now the real work begins! The route planning has to achieve several objectives to make it attractive to all ages of machine (and riders) to be able to travel up to 200 miles in a day, this includes: 1) Avoid motorways unless absolutely necessary, 2) Keep away from congested places like cities, 3) Use a mixture of roads which are pleasant to ride and wide enough for sidecars / three wheelers, 4) Include places to stop for refreshments and toilets, 5) Petrol station that sell E5 fuel is now needed, 6) Use scenic roads that aren’t on normal touring routes, and 7) Arrange suitable weather for the whole weekend!
This event all came to pass on the second weekend in October 2021 and the group consisted of 15 members, some from other Sections, for a 500 mile weekend tour. The start was at Congresbury (Cadbury Garden Centre) and the initial part of the route had to get us through the outskirts of Bristol and this was easiest via the Clifton Suspension Bridge to admire Brunel’s iconic river crossing. Our preferred way over to Wales is to use the old Severn Bridge (M48). We then make our way up through the Blaenavon Valley and crossed over the mountains to Brecon before more open mountain roads over the Artillery Ranges. The back road from Llangammarch Wells to Cynghordy gets used by logging trucks, so is generally wide enough to be able to cruise along at a reasonable rate, then pick up the main road into Llandovery for a break at the West End Café, which is a popular “bikers” café. After Llandeilo the route towards Pembroke had to include the less interesting main roads that carry traffic to the ferry terminals.
The hotel was very comfortable and looked after us well and provided a good base to explore the county. On our second day we explored the Preselli mountains and the north coast with an 80 mile route. As the weather was good we had time to visit the Pentre Ifan cromlech (see photo) and the cove at Dinas Island before having lunch in Fishguard.
Then on the third day we did a south coast run through Tenby, Saundersfoot and stopped at Pendine to have a coffee whilst overlooking the sands used for speed records. As the weather was favourable the route was extended to take in Neyland to see the Brunel statue, display boards and installations around the quayside.
All too soon we had to pack our bags and head back to Somerset, but using different roads where possible. After Carmarthen we road along the Afon Tywi (river Towy) valley before making our way via Glanaman to Brynamman for a lunch stop at the Black Mountains Community Café. This then allowed us to travel over the scenic Black Mountain pass and onto the open hills near Usk Reservoir. After a stretch on the A40 we passed through Abergavenny and then some smaller roads to Raglan and Llandogo, before calling into the Old Station Café near Tintern. A short diversion was arranged to view the Avon Gorge and Clifton Suspension Bridge from on top of the Downs, before crossing back over the Clifton Suspension Bridge and back to finish at the garden centre. A grand weekend away and a great chance to meet and get to know members from other Sections; you’re welcome to join us on these weekend events.