The very best driving roads in Wales
From Snowdonia to Pembrokeshire, we hunt down Wales's very finest driving roads in a BAC Mono
Posted: 21 Mar 2014
Aberystwyth to the Lleyn Peninsula
The B4340 takes us away from the high reservoirs and back to civilisation. My gloves are now drying on the Octavia's dash, making the Skoda so moistly warm that Justin is driving with the window down. I envy him. But as I de-layer in Aberystwyth in front of the inevitable crowd, a miracle occurs. Clear skies. We huddle over hot coffee and make plans as yet another man comes up to us. I brace myself for the first question as it's always - always - the same: "What is it?" An American accent.
"BAC Mono," I reply, "It's a British-bui..."
"Whoa," he interrupts me, "don't tell me. Bad Ass Car, right?"
The Tour of Britain started in Machynlleth this morning, which means there are road closures on one of my favourite bits of road - the B4518 north of Llanidloes. Go there. The road up the side of Llyn Clywedog is stunning. Instead, we turn left at Machynlleth on the A493 to Tywyn. Pleasing estuary views aside, it's unremarkable, so we strike north-east on the B4405. Ooh, it's good, sweeping lightly up the base of a huge valley until it picks up the A487, at which point it gets... even better. Trouble is, this is west Wales's main arterial road and it's busy. And at this time of year - post-tourism, pre-winter - there are two main issues that impede our progress the length and breadth of this land: road building and hedge trimming.
All irritations vanish once at Bala on the A494. Now, in reply to the endless questions people posed about the car, I always asked one back: where would you go to drive it? Time and again, I got the same answers: the A4069 across Black Mountain to the west of the Beacons; the mountain road from Rhayader to Aberystwyth; and the one, OK two, I'm nosing down now, the A4212 and B4391 to Ffestiniog. I love these roads so much I considered redacting them from the record. The Mono is so stable, so planted on a bucking bronco of a road, yet with the reactions of an acidic housefly. The wetness of this morning is forgotten in a screaming hoon of revs and a gasp of landscape.
As a result, we have to stop before Porthmadog to employ the emergency jerrycan, and from there we make slow progress via toll bridges, further fuel stops and food, to the far coast of the Lleyn Peninsula. Lovely beaches, undulating roads, but little to hold us. I clobber a pheasant. It's shredded by the front suspension and by the time the remains are blown out the back, it's processed and ready for KFC... or should that be KFP? We head on.