By Eddie Smyth
Route: 50 miles
For an alternative destination the border town of Hay-On-Wye is a terrific ride with a reward at the end of an olde worlde town known for its scores of bookshops. Leaving Abergavenny on the A40 north, head for Crickhowell. This is a lovely town, worth a stop off on its own merits. But just after the town take the A479 on the right, to Tretower which is only 3 miles farther. To the left here is an intriguing ruined 12th century castle behind a farm yard as you approach the village and also on the left hand side in the village is a superb café. There is a welcome for bikers. The food is good and plenty of it. The lardy cake is a meal in itself for around a quid.
Opposite the café is Pen y Fan peak. Stark or what?
Heading onwards, the roads are just amazing. Views in between twisting bends along high lined hedgerows come and go like a video on fast forward. You will enjoy whatever speed you wish to make. It’s a cracker all the way to Talgarth. That’s ten more miles of ear to ear grinning.
Take the right onto the A 4078 which takes you on a short cut, scenic route to the A438 and this wider road is equal to those already enjoyed. It reveals vistas as far as you can see and rises along the edge of steep gradient hills that give a great view down into riverbed valleys below your foot pegs. But pay attention to the road. Rivendale is not far from here, so keep a look out for wandering Hobbits and Elves. The road also hugs the river Wye in places and there are plenty of stopping opportunities and narrow lanes to take a breather and some keepsake photographs. At Glasbury you need to take the right fork onto the B4350, it’s not a narrow road it’s as good as any ‘A’ road around these parts.
All too soon you are in Hay–On–Wye. The best parking is in the large car park to the right as you come into the town. Down at the bottom, where the coaches have their marked out spaces you can park up in the corner. The town is very tourist driven and even though you are now beck in England, the gift shops scandalously proffer their Welsh leanings.
Bookshops everywhere, even a converted cinema has more rows of shelves to navigate than your GPS could cope with.
There’s a castle here too. With an adjoining bookshop, of course. Most tastes are catered for.
Head back to Hereford after a stroll and whatever floats your boat and head for Witney on Wye toll bridge. OK, so it will set you back 40p I think to ride across but stop there for 10 minutes. There’s a café there and the bridge is worth a photograph.
Once done, you are now on the A438 in less remote but still very decent surroundings as you zip passed the cars and lorries who missed all the fun you’ve just witnessed.