A Trip To Wales...
We visit North Wales quite a bit, both because Muddy Madam senior lives there and it’s a great place to take press cars. During our many trips there’s one thing I haven’t managed to do and that’s drive some of the green lanes that I’ve had pencilled on my to-do list, mainly because we’ve been in press cars and not knowing their condition I wanted to scout them first. So, as a free weekend loomed I decided that I’d drive down in Deux Smurf and have a proper explore.
After loading Deux Smurf with a few essentials, namely my Contigo full of coffee, a packet of Pringles and of course some recovery equipment, I set forth to Llangollen which wasn’t far from my first lane
The first lane that had pencilled in was Trailwise ref: SJ1439-01 and takes me from Ceiriog Forest to the A5. It was truly a pain to get to via a myriad of single track lanes that were often blocked by locals having a chat whilst sat in their tractors, and being honest, I was a little disappointed.
According to ViewRanger it was just under 4 miles long, but after around a mile or so the dusty track turned to tarmac. The drive down towards the A5 was a steep, single track road and although it offered some stunning views, it isn’t a lane I’d bother to drive again.
Joining the A5 I headed west towards Cerrigydrudion where I turned right and headed towards Llyn Brenig to drive the dirt track that circumnavigates it. Being a forestry track it’s well maintained and open for cars, walkers, cyclists and is access for those of us who fish.
There are plenty of places to pull over and enjoy both the views and solitude. As I've written previously, ‘off-roading’ isn’t always about testing you and your 4x4s ability in the rough stuff, it’s about enjoying access and the freedom it brings. Having said that, these tracks are flat and I wouldn’t hesitate driving an F-Type along them!
At this point it was lunch time so I decided to pull over and make a brew and a burger using my Ghillie kettle. As usual I had boiling hot water for a brew within minutes, and as the fire was still burning hot I removed the kettle from the base and fried the burger in the the pan - lovely.
Returning to the A5 I would normally turn left onto the B4407 towards Ffestiniog, however the next lane I wanted is just a few hundred yards further on, and one I’ve been wanting to drive for a while. SH8449-01 is now sadly fully graded and is access to a number farms, more great views though!
Heading down into Ysbyty Ifan I had 2 more lanes on my list, and the first was SH8348-01. Comments on Trailwise mentioned there was a rocky section, so my plan was to get out and walk it, but by this time it was around 3.00pm and the sun was scorching and I wasn’t in the mood for a walk, so I figured I’d leave it for next time.
Turning right at Ysbyty Ifan I left the B4407 around 300yrds further up past a farm that eventually leads me to SH8049-01. Take your time here because there are some beautiful views to soak in. You go through a couple of gates before you even get to the lane, and although it appears that it hasn’t been driven for a while, it’s in good condition and looks like it has a fresh layering of white stone along its way, probably by the farmer.
There are around 5 gates to drive through and all but one are a decent width, the other one however was a very tight squeeze in Deux Smurf. It didn't help that the gate wouldn’t fully open and I had no one with me to hold it in place and shout encouragement, I had to swing her round a bit so I could be straight and just squeezed through.
Once through and at the top which, according to ViewRanger, is around 400mtrs, the views were stunning, to the left there’s hills and on the right there’s, well, more hills.
So far I didn’t needed low-box nor to lock the centre diff, high 4x4 was perfect and apart from quite a number of deep diagonal channels dug into the track to direct rain water it was quite an easy lane to drive. I would probably take a SEAT Ateca up here but keep an awareness of its approach angle. On a separate note, I'm glad I drove from the Ysbyty Ifan side as access from Penmachno would be quite confusing due to the number of gates that allow access to fields and farms.
From Penmachno I headed back towards A5 for a mile or so along the B4406 before turning left onto another spectacular road, the A470, before turning left and heading for the train station at Pont-Y-Pant and onto the next lane that is made up of a few Trail Wise reference points, SH7352-02, SH7452-01 and SH7453-01. The only advisory warning about this lane was that there’s a narrow bridge to drive through.
Starting from the Pont-Y-Pant side it’s quite narrow and I had to get out and scout the track for a good hundred yards or so just to be certain I could fit as there’s no room to turn around. After a steep-ish rocky decent it veers to the left with a high bank on the left and tall stone wall on your right. Getting out to open the gate was fun, but not as fun as the 5-point turn for the 90 degree right hand bend to get under the very narrow railway bridge, once I'd aligned myself up, I jumped out and folded both mirrors in, took a deep breath and went for it, albeit, very slowly.
Emerging unscathed the rest of the lane was nice and open, basically you drive along a rutted track through a field with the railway line to your left and river Lledr on your right, I couldn’t resist stopping for a quick paddle to cool down.
And that was it, I turned right in the middle of Dolwyddelan onto the A470 and headed towards Blaenau Ffestiniog, then A496 towards A487 towards Porthmadog. I missed the last lane I wanted to drive as by the time I had realised I couldn’t be bothered going back for it, I was hungry, hot and knackered.
On reaching Pwllheli, where my parents were staying, I set up the Cobb BBQ and threw on some more homemade burgers and chilled for the rest of the evening with a cool beer or 2.