Bike Tour of Mid Wales

Just had a rather wet ramble by bike through the quiet back lanes of mid Wales on a bike. Basically a big loop from Stoke-on-Trent through to Aberystwyth and back.

Highlights included the wonderful real ale pub, the Royal Oak at Cardington in Shrops. Very nice to see a pub with roses, wisteria and real ale. This was on the first leg, to Wilderhope Manor Youth Hostel. Then Aardvark books just a little before Knighton was a pleasant stop amidst the increasing rain, on our way to Rhayader. Apparently the waterfall (rhaedr = waterfall in Welsh) for which Rhayader was named was blown up when they ‘improved’ the bridge over the river. How odd. We had a great day semi-offroad on road bikes going along the rough track along the north side of the Claerwen Reservoir to reach the Ystwyth area – coming back via Cwm Ystwyth. Another road bike was doing the route and the river you cross was manageable (this was before the really heavy rain that caused flooding, fortunately). The route took us past every Elan Valley reservoir. There was even a moment or two of sunshine and a visit to the delightful real ale pub The Fountain at the end of the day. The ride to Aberystwyth from Rhayader via Llangurig, the A44 and the Nant y Moch Reservoir was very wet. Highlight of the day was actually when walking the bikes over the headland from Clarach Bay to the north. I highly recommend not cycling on the road into Aber but getting the lovely views and walking or riding in from Clarach along the coastpath. It’s well surfaced, quite wide, and at times very steep. I like Aber, and the next day I was wowwed by the Museum with it’s stunning collection of marine paintings. Ah, yes, I took a picture of a lid painted by a man who, very sadly, drowned in the Bay of Biscay in the Nineteenth Century. But what a lovely example of sea chest art. The day going from Aber to Dolgoch in the Elenydd area was wet again so we took a pretty direct route.

The Elenydd is a lovely area and Dolgoch Youth Hostel is cosy, even with no electricity (just then, not even solar). Had a great evening reading by a mixture of fire and torchlight after a massive veggie casserole. Then to Kington, well, in rain. Went via the wonderful little churches of Cregina, Glascwm and Colva (wall paintings, and the highest church in Wales I think at about 1300 feet). The highlight of the day, though, was the warm and dry pub The Old Taverne, a Kington pub with great beer and a lovely atmosphere. Then over to Bridgnorth in relatively dry conditions. The highlight of the day was the view from the Clee Hill. Wow, we could see the Malverns, the Brecons, and more. The wind was freezing, but amazing views. We ended the day at Coalport near Bridgnorth. Then from Coalport (where I did the superb china museum, Coalport was a superb manufacturer of china) to Stoke via David Austen Roses. Well, I’m a devotee of an Old English Rose. The photo is my bike at Coalport, after days of rain and mud. Not so bad really…

All in all, a fun journey if soaked to the skin a bit too often. And sadly we never bumped into any Jubilee WI tea in the church hall thingies.

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