Land Cruiser Club of Holland Welsh Weekend
May 18th to 21st 2012
Rain, Rain and more Rain was what was in store for us, in Wales this weekend. That was according to the esteemed weather men and their enormous computer weather reading systems. Well they were slightly right as it did rain, but only on the Friday night and after we had finished off roading. This left us with two days of dry, albeit cloudy weather for the rest of the weekend.
This popular weekend starts at the Victorian Hafod Hotel, nestled amongst the Oak and Pine forests that fill the valleys of the rivers Mynach and Rheidol.
Four Land Cruisers, belonging to Hans and Laura, Hans and Marjolijn, Koos and Leo and Rob and Isabella, arrived during the Friday afternoon. After the crews had checked in they sat in the lounge to enjoy a plate or two of Welsh Cheeses and some glasses of water. Neil arrived in time to partake in a morsel or to two whilst Louise being a vegan had to hungrily wait until dinner a few hours later.
Water, I here you ask, well the group knew that they would be off roading before dinner so did not want to jeopardise this with any influence of alcohol!!
The group were then introduced to the infamous “Poppy” the Impala English Springer Spaniel who made sure she had cuddles from everyone before settling down to listen to the briefing for the evenings off roading.
Neil had prepared a roadbook for the tracks around Nant-y-Moch (stream of the pig) that would see the group up to dinner. Leaving the cheese unfinished and water still in the glass the group headed off, road books in hand to Nant-y-Moch. The tracks here are fun as rock climbs and descents abound, that lead into rain filled puddles. The highlights on this route are a side slope that you can take to 45 degrees and a difficult technical turn out of a hollow which everyone completed with ease.
The only rain of the weekend started as we sat down for an excellent dinner after which a tired and satisfied group of Dutch men and women retired to bed.
Out here in the forests the alarm bells do not come from a watch or clock but from the Jackdaws and Song Thrushes. Breakfast was had and the briefing for the day finished by 0915 so the group set off to that gem of a track Strata Florida. The description in their roadbook read:
“This famous rock track runs across high moorland and through pine forest. There are a number of river crossings; some very deep so caution is required. Some of the rock climbs and descents can be challenging.”
Sums it up really; some way along the track is a Butty, a refuge for anyone caught out in inclement weather giving security and warmth. Neil and Louise of Impala met the group here and set up a fire so that Koos and Leo could cook up some sausages that they had bought for lunch. As Koos said “We are out in the forest so can be boy scouts and cook” As you can see from the picture both Koos and Leo enjoyed some al a fresco dining in the sunshine.
After the river crossings of Strata Florida we climbed up the rocky hill of Soya Myndd but not before a power steering pipe had split on Koo’s Toyota. When a car breaks out here miles away from a garage it is always a pleasure to see a group of men sort out the problem, which was solved with a few bits of hose and a sawn off handle of a jack.
By 1900 all of the group were back at The Hafod ready for the excellent evening meal and the “jury rig” on the power steering had held and would continue to hold for the rest of the weekend.
After the combined Jackdaw and Song Thrush alarm those who looked out of their bedroom windows could see that Sunday had dawned bright with the promise of sunshine and clear skies.
Before modern roads the only way to get from Devils Bridge to England was along an ancient mountain highway call Cliffordd Byway and this was the route for today. In patches this old road still exists, the road book takes the group from the high mountain parts onto the byways left on the lush agricultural lands below. One part of Cliffordd Byway is called the Old Hall Farm Track and the roadbook description gives an idea of its challenges:
“Old Hall Farm track runs across grassland and is soft in places with some deep holes filled with water if it has rained. Please be careful not to leave the track. If you get stuck you must be pulled from behind or winched in the track”
While the group of four were enjoying the challenges of the Cliffordd Byway and eating of a sumptuous lunch at The Red Lion in the village of Llanfihangel-Nant-Melan, Neil and Louise were checking to see if a track that has only recently been open to us would be suitable for the group to drive. The track was ready and consisted of stone with some rutted hill climbs and descents-excellent for us.
The delights of lunch diverted everyone’s mind from reading the map so they set off to finish the roadbook forgetting about returning to Penybont to meet the Impala Crew.
Lunch in the sunshine enjoying the views across The Radnor Forest and watching the now abundant Red Kites were magnificent and very calming. The time was pressing on and I had calculated that the group would arrive at the rendezvous point at around 1400. 1400 came and went, 1420 came and went so at 1430 I rang Marjolijn and Hans to see where the group had got to.
“How are you getting on” I said
“Very well, we are at WP96 Neil” was the reply “WP96! Where did you eat?” I asked
“We enjoyed an excellent meal at The Red Lion” Marjolijn said. This rang alarm bells as they should have not been anywhere near The Red Lion until after meeting us near Penybont!! “Stay where you are and I shall get to you in twenty minutes and bring you over to the track”
“Ok Neil we will wait for you here”. Louise, Poppy and I sped off to pick up the group.
We met them all beside the last track of the day and with a lot of merriment they realised that the instructions of the map had been forgotten.
With our Discovery to the fore we lead the group to the Gilwern Hills to enjoy the newly opened track in bright sunshine before heading towards Shobdon and The Bateman Arms for the evening.
That evening over dinner we talked about the weekend and its fun, looking at the photographs that were taken by all before heading to bed for a well earned rest.
Weekends like this always instil a camaraderie that makes it a little sad to say good bye. There will be other weekends like this one, where old acquaintances can be renewed as they always are and Louise, Poppy and I always look forward to guiding a bunch of “Cloggies” around Wales and England.
Land Cruiser Club of Holland
For many years now, Neil at Impala has been guiding groups of members of the Land Cruiser Club of Holland in Wales and England, as well as supporting Eric Helleman (the clubs chairman and founder) on Desert Training Adventures to Morocco.
Future destinations include weekend events in The Lake District, Wiltshire and The Peaks.
The club has well over 600 members and its ethos is to encourage its members to use their Land Cruisers on expeditions all over the world. The Club has travelled as far a field as Mongolia as well as the depths of Strata Florida and The Gilwern Hills.
Web Site: http://www.landcruiser-club.nl