SOUTH WALES QUEST, PART ONE

 Mark Jacobson is carries away by his Brompton ... according to the on-board technology ... in South Wales

 

Having done much touring in north and mid Wales, it seemed appropriate to concentrate a bit to the south. Alighting from the train at Llandovery, the passing downpour had moved on and I rode to Rhaindir Mwyn camp site. The breeze dropped, the humidity increased and the midges swarmed! Next morning's dash involved rapid packing and moving on quickly sans breakfast until back in Llandovery!

 

Suitably fed, I proceeded on my way to Tally Abbey, and after that eventually finding tea at Llandeilo. My route became a bit of a meander as I went from one Quest site to another, since my aim was to complete all remaining Welsh Quest sites this trip. That evening camping at the river camp site,  Pentrecapel, I was delighted to find no midges; in fact I had no more problem for the remainder of my trip.

 

Next morning I rode to Cenarth, taking from there a very long climb up a spectacular narrow valley, climbing from below 20m to the summit at 74m, and followed a little further on by a steep descent and rise, dropping to the Afon Cych at 17m, before reaching Boncath on the B4332, where the village shop accommodated me with a hot drinks machine and tasty snack. Turning then on to the A478 for Crymych where I caped up for some heavy rain. Taking the lane to Mynachlog-dhu gave a quieter route to the turning for Rosebush, and I could remove my cape for comfort. The Quest along this lane to Rosebush asks for details regarding a pillar of blue stone from the nearby Preseli Hills, standing proudly out of the verdant grasses. At Rosebush I could take to the B4329 which crosses the Preseli Hills in a northerly direction. The road climbs to a height of 284m, and required a short push to rest my legs! Then came a fabulous descent: despite gentle use of the brakes, I touched a maximum of 38.5 mph! This led to a lane off to the west where I found the Pentre Ifan Burial Chamber, the site for my next Quest. It is an amazing stone structure with a very heavy cap stone.

About this British Cycle Quest: not only does the search encourage one to visit counties which could otherwise be omitted, but the sites are often of an unusual nature, and very interesting. For further information see http://www.cyclinguk.org/british-cycle-quest

That afternoon I reached the camp site at St David's from which I would make some unladen rides. This site is above Abereiddi Bay, within reach on foot or by cycle. Some potential campers found it totally unsuitable as there is no phone signal nor Wifi, being so beautifully remote.

My unladen day's ride took me firstly to a sunlit Whitesands Bay before stopping in St.David's for morning coffee and a wander around. I did not enter the Cathedral as a service was in progress. From there I visited St Non's Chapel and Well, sited on a slope overlooking the sea, blue in the sunlight. Along the lane leading to this is an old stone wall, now colonised by valerian, a pretty sight. Riding past the camp site, I continued to Porthgain where I had an excellent lunch, of Welsh Cawl, at the Sloop Inn, named for the wreck of the 'Carolina'. This has a very narrow harbour which clearly had industrial uses in days gone by, exporting slate from quarries from Abereiddy in the early 20th century.  Back at my tent I had a pleasant warm nap, after which I rode the short distance to Abereiddy. Near the bay were many salt-water plants in flower: in addition to sea-pinks were other globular flowers in blue and yellow hues. Just beyond the beach is the Blue Lagoon, a former quarry which is now used for Celtic Quest Coasteering, jumping into the sea from the quarry shelves, the highest jump being about 30 feet (10m), or else sea swimming.

 

Moving on next morning to Haverfordwest,  rain began again. Finding tea in town I could locate the nearby Quest, after which I took lanes to Neyland and the Brunel Quay. The 'stolen' Quest is back, having been restored in 2013! Campervan man called out for me to join him for tea: the weather was too rough for him to go out paddle-boarding, his usual pastime; he told me about his exploits in the various estuaries and cross-channel sailing trips, as well as directing me for the cycle route to reach the top of the Cleddau Toll Bridge, towering over the water not far away. It has at least 37m clearance for vessels, so the roadway must be some 40+m high, very impressive! The cycle route took me easily up a switchback path to the A477 which crosses the bridge. Continuing on this main road, I could use the almost continuous cycle path, alongside the roadway, or the smaller parallel lanes where available, to reach Carew Castle for the Quest there. Across the road is the Carew Inn, ideal for an early lunch, especially as rain had started up again. Proceeding on quiet lanes to Pendine, I could find that Quest easily. Pushing back up the hill from the sands was difficult, it is a 25% gradient, and, later, I realised that I could have continued using a longer way to St Clears, bypassing the hill! Finding no café, I pushed on to Llanybri, initially using the A40 foot way until finding NCN4 signing: a very hilly set of lanes, the four or five miles taking an hour with a final hard push to the village perched on the hilltop! The pub does not serve food Monday nights, so the emergency meal carried came in use!

 

My cycle computer had recorded a top speed of 51.4 mph. For the next few days this figure increased to a maximum of 78.3 mph: clearly it had become faulty, although all other data seemed correct. I know for a fact that my Brompton has done almost 40 mph, but those recorded speeds are ridiculous!

 

Camp sites used:

Rhandirmwyn Camping And Caravanning Club Site, Rhandirmwyn, Llandovery, SA20 0NT

Tel: 01550 760257

Afon Teifi Caravan And Camping Park, Pentrecagal, Newcastle Emlyn, SA38 9HT

Tel: 01559 370532

St Davids Camping And Caravanning Club Site, Dwr Cwmwdig, Berea St Davids, Haverfordwest,

SA62 6DW Tel: 01348 831376

Cwrt Mawr Camping, Llanybri, Carmarthen, SA33 5HQ Tel: 01267 241362SA33 5HQ Tel: 01267 241362 

PUBLISHED NOVEMBER 2016

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