Warning this post really needs to be read in conjunction with day one and day 2 to make any sense!
Well that didn’t go to plan. Yep we stayed up far too late and only managed to get to bed once some of the group decided at 3am that it was a good idea to pedal down one mountain and up another to go and get a dog some water. This was a very special sheepdog meaning the addled minds of the rescue party were well up for the adventure. Should it be of any surprise that Rich and the Pirate Kate where part of this group? Probably not but it did mean we could retire to bed without the fear of recriminations.
I awoke at various points during the night and early morning leading to terrible sleep as is the way of late night drinking sessions. Some of this was worry for the rescue party and hoping to hear them come home safe. There was certainly the beginnings of a serious hangover brewing. As it turns out I am very out of practice or perhaps never really had the ability to drink. This was confirmed some weeks later when meeting an ex-pro ruby player who said he had a swift 18 pints at the weekend and could put away 30 on an all day session. Or perhaps that isn’t normal? Anyway, the night before we had decided to bail on finishing the route and the new plan was to head over to Nant y Arian and enjoy some pretty decent singletrack to save the weekend. Ironically the day was turning out to be sunny, warm, and perfect for a slog across Wales.
Rich had appeared and Kate had been rescued by Dav so it was time to get some food. After a stunning breakfast with some of the thickest bacon rashers you have ever seen accompanied by loaves of freshly made bread and eggs, the first order of the day was to get my car abandoned at Knighton. We borrowed Kate’s car and with Rich driving us through the incredibly twisty lanes that make up this part of Wales didn’t sit well with the late night and booze. So much so that by the time we got back to farm with both cars, I went to be and slept for a few more hours. Rich being the machine it turns out he is, helped repair and fettle cars and be the all-round asset to society I was no way cable of being at that point.
By the time I awoke, it was far to late to do any riding so we decided to head back to Cardiff up the Devils Staircase. This is a series of very steep narrow climbs through beautiful forest and moorland. Despite having to stop the car a few times to wait for the car sickness to wear off, it was a very enjoyable trip. There were waterfalls all along the way with one noted and logged as needing a future trip to explore for swimming potential. The reason for going back this was to avoid the traffic in Builth Wells due to the Royal Welsh Show on that weekend but also to head to a swimming spot called the Wolfs Leap.
Wolfs leap is a narrow slot gorge where folklore has it the last wild wolf in Wales jumped to safety escaping human pursuit. Its also an totally boss swimming spot. Where the river emerges from the gorge, the rocks are high and make the perfect jumping spot into the incredibly deep pool. Rumour has it no-one has ever reached the bottom and considering the abundance of caves in this part of Wales, perhaps it goes far deeper than its tannin stained waters would ever let you see. There is something rather special about being in the middle of nowhere swimming in cool dark waters, exploring rivers and skimming stones. It certainly rescued the day which had been consumed by hangover thus far.
Alas it was getting late and we needed to get back to Cardiff but not without one last final treat, a secret nuclear bunker. Yep thats right, well it was actually not meant to stand a direct hit but rather be somewhere to be manned following an strike and help support the country from relative safety. This one was in a field next to a lane by a village hall on the way home. It was dark, full of spiders but still properly cool. I can’t tell you where it is as to be honest I can’t remember. However by chance I did go past it the other day although I still don’t know where it is!
So to summarise this trip, the Trans Cam is bad ass. Not for its distance or the terrain particularly, but more the elements, the ability to deceive you, capture you with its beauty and its harshness. We will be back to do this one day although with a proper back up plan so if it rains, we can sack it and go meet a pirate for round 2 (Oh and if you get a chance to stop for tea and cake rather than cross a deep ford, do it). If you do decide to do this trip after this very informative guide, take heed of this warning, its tough when it rains most of the way. I’m not just being soft, the cold will get you and unless you are fit, I’d perhaps think again and go ride elsewhere.