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Brenhden DrBink

Posted: Tue Apr 19, 2016 8:49 am
by Brenhden
After driving back from Lowestoft the day before I must have been mad to attempt this, especially as storm Katie was still attacking the South Coast. But if 2015 taught me one thing it’s that you have to make the most of opportunities. I knew it would be too windy to leave early doors so I had a nice lie in which I spent agonizing over which mudguard to fit to my DR650, the supermoto as its better at speed or the enduro one which is better in the wet.
So at about 10am I rolled out of a sunny Burnham on Sea with kit for B&B rather than camping. My new luggage racks hadn’t arrived yet and I assumed I’d be wet and cold and wouldn’t want to camp. The M5 had a wicked cross wind as I headed north so I sat behind lorry most of the way watching my SATNAV. It was first time I had used it properly since buying it from Brian AKA Picos Metsizo a great guy who sadly passed away in February.
I crossed the Severn Bridge and, as always, wondered why my old colleague from the Vehicle Inspectorate had chosen such a weird turquoise colour for it. She must have had a thing for 1960s swimming pools.
After a bit more of a motorway wind battering I drove through a few towns before reaching Caerphilly. Wow! What a castle. It’s huge and dominates the town like a goose yolk in a chickens egg. I pulled up for a photo of the bike and castle and admired the massive structure whilst enjoying a sarnie.
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That done and I was right back on it and rocking the M4 on route to Dinefwr. Cruising past Port Talbot I was consumed by its unsurpassable beauty (not) and spared a thought for the iron workers whose livelyhoods hung in the balance. The sun was shining down and whilst the headwind was still hardwork for me and my thumper life was getting sweeter. At the end of the M4 the roads got a lot more fun and by the time I got to Dinefwr I was loving the corners. The castle was a long way from the road but looked pretty menacing in the skyline. I left via a dirt track and whilst DR650 isn’t quite as good on the pegs as my DR350 the K60 tyres gave a great account of themselves.
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A blast down the A40 and the fun A4066 had me eating ice cream next to Laugharne Castle at about half three. I briefly wondered whether anyone could help themselves to Pendine Sands but then common sense kicked in and thought I could squeeze another castle in.

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The wind was gone and the sun had his hat on and the B4299 was the highlight of the day, it’s got alpine style hairpins and miles of empty road. There was even a motocross event happening along the way. My exhaust frightened three horses in a field and vowed to get a new baffle for it before the HISS rally in May. Final castle reached (Cilgerran) and photoed and I headed into Cardigan for the night looking for shelter.
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£45 got me a lovely room in the very pink Llety Teifi guesthouse. Amazingly I was pretty sunburnt even though it was March and I was in Wales! A burger and a beer at the Grosvenor had me ready for bed.
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Re: Brenhden DrBink

Posted: Tue Apr 19, 2016 8:54 am
by Brenhden
Woke at 7am, groggily got myself together and headed down for breakfast in the conservatory. My heart sank as I entered as the roof was banging with heavy rain. Whilst eating I could hear the two cooks chatting away in Welsh which was lovely. By the time I got out to the bike the sun was shining again, happy days. Whilst refuelling for the day I went to check the tyres and I don’t know if it’s just me or do petrol station tyre pumps not go on enduro back wheels?
Anyway, I rode out of town and along the coast road. I was greeted buy field after field of newborn lambs so I’m guessing the grass is definitely greener over this part of the world. The sea looked so good that I pulled into Aberaeron for a photo at the harbour.
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In the boat park I messed up putting the sidestand down and we all had a lovely lie down which was quite funny until I noticed my tank cap valve had gone and fuel was squirting out at me! Bike up and I assessed for damage, the end of my clutch lever was gone even though I have wraparound handgaurds (they must have flexed), and my shifter had gauged out groove in my case but not cracked it. Using a spanner as a crow bar I bent the shifter back and set off cursing myself. Back on the road and it was a cracking ride to Aberystwyth and I found the castle to be just a ruin with no gates or anything. Engine off, I pushed my bike right inside the walls for a photo and got a few funny looks as I did. That done I went for tea and hot Welsh cakes in the Market Hall, heaven.
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Heading out of town on the A487 and the route was great fun with lots of fresh tarmac, it was getting more familiar too as I’ve spent lots of time on Snowdonia over the years. As I got near Caernarfon the sun went in and the hail came down. My Spada Adventure trousers did a great job of keeping my legs warm and dry (not bad for £30 off the ABR forum forsale board) but by the time arrived at the Castle I was frozen and moral was low. I went in search of a fire and hot food and the Black Boy Inn did the business. Tea and Welsh Rarebit consumed I was back on top form and ready for the worst Wales had to throw at me.
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On the way out of town I rode through some tunnels and BRAP my bike sounded awesome! I was sorely tempted with a lap of Anglesey but set my sights on Conwy, I took the main roads to Conwy and the mountains looked pretty murky and approached the town from the west for the first time. What a gem the Conwy is, it’s a walled city like York and I was very excited.
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A few photo locations done and I was back in the saddle pushing on for Chirk. I’d consulted a map and decided the A525 looked like fun so set off cross country. It’s a long wide valley and I was regretting my choice when it suddenly all changed, there was a road sign saying ‘The Horse Shoe – Open’ which was odd as pubs don’t usually deserve a VOSA sign, I could see snowy peaks above which I wasn’t sure how to feel. It was raining pretty bad and my heated grips were fully on but I couldn’t feel the benefit. My new Richa Carbon Winter waterproof gloves were soaked through.
Rain became snow and the roadside was white. The Horseshoe, it transpires, is a mountain pass popular with bikers in the summer. I stopped at the top for a photo and was totally alone in the elements, it was beautiful but freezing.
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Heading down the other side and the snow and rain stopped I rode through a lovely looking town called Llangollen and decided to head back after Chirk. The Castle was an absolute beauty and I vowed to take my other half back there some day.
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Back in town and I pulled into the Royal hotel for the night, I was frozen to the bike and it took a long bath to thaw out. The radiators were hopeless for drying so I had to improvise...
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I explored town and it was clear I could have found a nicer place to stay if I’d planned a bit better. A quick pint in The Bull Inn and I went for dinner at Gales which is a completely lovely (and slightly poncy) place.
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Re: Brenhden DrBink

Posted: Tue Apr 19, 2016 9:06 am
by Brenhden
I woke with a slightly fuzzy head after some excellent Welsh whisky and got myself ready for the day. I bagged a Love Spoon for my better half and set off for the final list of Castles. The sun was out again and the bike always puts a smile on my face. An easy drive on A roads later and I pulled up at Powis Castle. This is another country mansion style place and has the best gardens of any I saw on the trip. I rode round and bagged a photo before doing the 20 miles to Stokesay.
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The route between the two on the A489 was excellent fun and I pulled up to the fortified manor house very pleased I’d made the effort.
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I was ready for lunch so I didn’t hang around and zoomed down the A49 to Hereford for a pitstop. Belly fully I aimed at Raglan and let the SATNAV set the route, if I did it again I would probably pick the A466 but the A4137 was good enough.
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Raglan was a great place to get too and being the final castle of the trip I enjoyed a moments reflection on what I’d achieved in three days. The final push back to Somerset included the B4293 to Chepstow which is fantastic and then the M5 south. I pulled up back at mine chuffed to bits I made the effort and already planning a trip to bag the Irish castles.
Total miles: 569
Total Castles: 11

Re: Brenhden DrBink

Posted: Tue Apr 19, 2016 9:27 am
by 92kk k100lt 193214
Well that was a lovely trip and was strange reading the post and photos. I have been to Wales quite a lot and love it. At some time I have been to most of those but it's really nice to see them all lined up in one trip.

Some nice castles down this neck of the woods......

Lismore Castle
Blarney Castle
Kilkenny Castle
Howth Castle

Many more too, if coming do let us know, always a coffee around somewhere. I did look up the ABR challenge some time back and forgotten which ones, do remember some nice ones and some good ones up North too.

Re: Brenhden DrBink

Posted: Tue Apr 19, 2016 9:54 am
by Alban
Very enjoyable Brenhden. I have Welsh ancestry, so I really should explore Wales some time. Your report has fired my enthusiasm for such a trip. Thank you. (thumbs)

Re: Brenhden DrBink

Posted: Tue Apr 19, 2016 10:35 am
Proper smashing mate (thumbs)

Re: Brenhden DrBink

Posted: Tue Apr 19, 2016 11:03 am
by bowber
Nice report and great pictures.


Re: Brenhden DrBink

Posted: Tue Apr 19, 2016 11:22 am
by boboneleg
Excellent effort Brenhden (thumbs)

Re: Brenhden DrBink

Posted: Tue Apr 19, 2016 11:32 am
by Godspeed
Brilliant and enjoyable read there!!!! Absolutely love the improvised drying machine :)

Re: Brenhden DrBink

Posted: Tue Apr 19, 2016 11:33 am
by The Sarge
First Class Trip Brenhden, and the bike looks first class (thumbs)