Following a day of sunshine on the Saturday, the day dawned
grey and wet, but this did not put a dampener on the enthusiasm, after all this
was a trip to some of the best driving roads in the UK.
Supertouring, MadScientist and Andy_S met at the Chelford Shell
station. Surprisingly, Mad was already waiting and Andy turned up before anyone
had started to question his usual late arrival. A quick fill-up and for once
the 8:30am start was actually adhered to.
A quick dash to Holmes Chapel, to collect Steelx and we were
on our way.
The route initially followed the same as the official Wales
visit last year. The pace was reasonable, helped by the damp weather and early
start, so the ubiquitous Sunday drivers were still at home where they belong.
Early planning suggested that the meeting of Carl555dbm would
be around 10:15, but progress was so quick that we arrived at 9:40, only minutes
after the arrival of Carl who had predicted our early arrival.
Following the usual pleasantries and confirming of radio channels
we set off toward Bala, SuperTouring taking the lead initially. Prior to Bala,
the route diverted south into previously uncharted SMACS territory, mid-Wales
was a new experience for everyone and expectations were high within the group.
Our first major location was Lake Vyrnwy. The lake is surrounding
by a challenging, often narrow, twisty ring-road that was virtually empty of
traffic. Although mainly flat, the road ran close to the lake on one side and
is lined by trees on the other – this is what all roads should be like.
A quick break for some group photos and we were on our way again,
heading towards Dollgellau for a fuel stop, as Optimax is about as rare as an
un-molested sheep where we were heading.
With SuperTouring still at the front, the group of five cars
wound its way towards the sea front of Tywyn, passing the lake at Tal y Llyn
and taking in a lunch stop at a greasy spoon café in Abergynolwyn.
More group photos at Tywyn, where the rain still poured down,
before heading along the coast road towards Machynlleth and Llanidloes.
At this point Carl555dbm took the lead to show us across some
of the more rural parts of the trip, from Machynlleth through Llandidloes towards
Rhayader and on to the challenging Elan Valley roads.
Unfortunately as we rose through the hills over Machynlleth
the rain and mist made the going what can only be described as “very interesting”.
Carl, with his x-ray vision, kept the pace reasonable, but everyone behind started
to slow and we soon lost Andy_s at the back. Andy, struggling along with a different
brand of tyre on each corner of his new JDM Sti, was soon lost in the distance
so we waited for him to catch-up and compare notes over the drive so far.
The route then followed the course of the Afon Elan river, passing
several of the beautiful reservoirs in the area and included some stunning roads.
The beautiful sounding Caban Coch (our most southerly point of the trip), Garreg
Ddu and Penygarreg reservoirs came and went quickly but we stopped at Craig
Goch dam for some cracking group photos and a break from the driving.
Our final route took us up towards the wonderfully named Devils
Bridge and Pont-Erwynd. A quick stop en-route for some more photos and video,
on an extremely bleak valley, and that was it.