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The M.G. Car Club 'Y' Register

Summer Gathering 2014

Classic Tour of Mid Wales July 11 -14 2014

By Jerry Birkbeck

Background.

As Chairman last year Peter Veilvoye outlined an excellent summer break in mid- Wales that he had attended with members of the Gloucester Branch of the MG Owners' Club. He suggested that it would be an ideal venue for the Y Register in July 2014.

Approaches were made by Peter to the venue organisers and owners at Llanerchindda Farm in Camarthenshire and a date was confirmed. He mentioned that there was little for him to do other than e-mail and phone round to interested owners for the reaction and support, and then advise the organisers, who would arrange the rest. Well it was a little more than that, as we all know. Nonetheless, he quickly had 28 participants on the books and it was pencilled in diaries well before Christmas 2013.

 

What was the selling point?

A number of factors that included an opportunity to meet up with old and new friends, to enjoy the wonderful landscapes of mid Wales, and to experience the organisational skills of a well developed venue.

Peter had commented in his e-mails and contacts with owners and their partners how impressed he had been with the care and attention to detail, how well planned the weekend had been and the superb food.

His assessment was spot on as was evident on our arrival with Pimms being served on the terrace overlooking a stunning landscape.

Who was there?

Twenty four of us, though sadly David and Barbara Hague had to cancel due to medical issues making it impossible for him to drive.

Mary Jackson sadly was unable to make it personal reasons, though Alan Chick’s nephew – also called Alan Chick filled her place.

Peter V and Derek Newman (YT and TD) arrived as the advance party. Neil and Janet Cairns, (YB) Jack and Molly Murray (VW), Peter and Suzie Arnell (YB) arrived soon after. The rest of the party comprised Brian and Gill Mellem (YA – a car that they have owned since 1960). Dave and Hazel Jones (YA) made the short trip up from West Wales. Fran and Jan Smith came from further afield in their YA, whilst Andrew and Arlene Coulson (YA) motored the 200 plus miles from Yorkshire. It will give you an idea of the remoteness of the area with Peter and Gilly Sharpe (YA) taking six hours from Bedfordshire.

However, some of us were forced to drive our modern cars with perhaps the most unluckiest being Andrew and Kathrine Morland. They had driven up from Glastonbury on the Thursday afternoon and were passed by Peter V and his wife on their way back from Devon (in their Jag!). Peter commented on his absolute delight at seeing their wonderful YT on the M5. Unfortunately, when they reached Abergevenny, around 20 miles from Llanerchinnda, they experienced problems with the water pump. They decided that it was unrealistic to carry on and they were trailered home. The YT with swapped with their modern (at least an MG!) a 2005 TF. Jo and Jerry Birkbeck had to come in their C4 with no one at home to look after their elderly dog Meg. They did try her in the YT but she was freaked out by the experience and there was only one decision - to bring her in the modern! Alan Chick was unable to attend in his YB but arrived in style in his nephew’s Fiat 500!

So after some re-freshing Pimms everyone changed for dinner. This was a superb three course meal with drinks from the `honesty bar’ in the Dining Room. Our hosts Martin, Lynn, Andrew and Mark provided superb service with excellent attention to looking after their guests.

 

What did you do?

The `package’ includes everything - an outline of each day’s events with a route book for both trips together with an OS Map of the area.

After an excellent breakfast Martin requested that we attend a `Driver’s Briefing’ at 9.30 a.m. With everyone gathered he went through the route, which was splendidly covered in perhaps the best prepared route baok that I guess most of us had seen. Not only was there a map covering the route, but a list `To Help Plan Your Day. This comprehensively covered Team Rooms, Café and Pubs, Toilets and Car Parks and Fuel. All a pre-requisite!

 

Day 1 - Classic Tour of Mid-Wales

Taking in the Llyn Brianne Reservoir. Devil’s Staircase, Hay on Wye and Brecon Total Distance 101 Miles

The route was indeed spectacular along the way we met up with Brian Hough in his YB and at Hay we met up with Keith Harris also in a YB they continued with us and came back for more socialising over tea. The roads were excellent and the views and settings were stunning as we passed through a series of different landscapes. Sheep were a common factor though! The descriptions provided in the `Points of Interest’ column were well chosen. As an example it is worthwhile recalling an early entry whilst passing through the Sennybridge Training Area:

The road takes you on to the Sennybridge Training Area (SENTA) which consists of approximately 31,000 acres of MOD freehold land and 6.000 acres leased from Forest Enterprise. The majority of SENTA is situated on the Mynydd Epynt, a wild plateau covered by blanket bog and grass, but intersected by several streams containing woodland and meadows. The area became famous for Welsh Cobs – the very name Epynt originating from an ancient expression meaning `haunt of horse’.

Epynt was the ancestral home of a community of Welsh speaking hill farmers until 1940, when most of it was compulsory purchased by the War Department for use as an artillery training area. SENTA is the third largest military training area in the UK and was requisitioned in 1939. In 1940 the Training Area became the site of a Royal Artillery Practice Camp. Since then a wide range of developments have taken place to create sophisticated live firing and dry training facilities for light forces including light (105mm) artillery,

How were the Y’s coping with this terrain – pretty well overall. However, Andrew and Arlene’s YA was experiencing a serious oil leak from the rocker box. The expert opinion suggested heavier oil. In the interim Andrew undertook some remedial action with the aim of resolving the problem on return to base.

We drove along the Wye Valley, enjoyed wonderful views of the Black Mountains and arrived in Hay-0n-Wye, famous as a second hand book centre known as `the town of books’ and its well renowned annual Literary Festival, which had been held the previous month.

We then travelled onto Brecon, though several of us did not stay there very long or bypassed it - one of the demands on time resulting from such a long trip. From here it was a thirty mile drive back home. We enjoyed the company of Keith Harris in his beautifully restored YB a journey through very different landscapes, though all of course of high visual quality.

On return we discovered that Andrew had included a thicker grade of oil and was hopeful that this might help to resolve his problem.

The pre-dinner entertainment was provided by Jo Birkbeck on her saxophone which was thoroughly enjoyed. Although her attempts to get everyone singing along to a simple standard – Rock around the Clock - was not perhaps taken on quite as enthusiastically as it might of have been in the country renowned for its singing! No Welsh chorists amongst the Y Community Singers!

 

Day 2 Classic Tour of Mid-Wales

Taking in the Epynt Ranges, Black Mountain, Myddfai Hall, Brynamman Mountain Road and Aberglasney Gardens Total Distance 95 Miles

Another challenging day for all drivers and crews! We visited and crossed the Epynt Ranges and had the benefit of following highly maintained roads (by the MOD and at the taxpayer’s expense!) which allowed exceptional views and were lightly trafficked. Quite often the MOD will close the ranges, not only for army training but also for film companies. This is where the TV programme `Top Gear’ with Clarkson et al film some of car trials.

We went on and enjoyed great views of the Black Mountain and Brecon Beacons. Some of us stopped for a well earned morning coffee in Myddfai described in the brochure as ‘... a tranquil, peaceful haven surrounded by the outstanding natural beauty of the Brecon Beacons.’

A true description and well worth a visit.

From here we went on along the A4069 towards Llangadog on the way to Aberglasney Gardens. There was an acute hairpin bend and then a sharp turn to Trap which some of us missed. This meant driving on to a higher viewing point and then returning on the same road. However, even with traffic following Fran managed a smart turn on the hairpin in his YA – a well judged manoeuvre!

Aberglasney was very special and we were met by Martin in his MG RV8, from whom passes were collected for our entrance. Many of us chose to have lunch here. The best description of these awe inspiring gardens is that it is `one of Wales’ finest gardens and a visit at any time of the year will not disappoint’. It was made famous by the BBC TV series `A Garden Lost in Time’ which followed its restoration: a wonderful place to visit any time of the year. From here we made our way back to Llanerchindda for afternoon tea and cakes.

Another excellent four course evening meal rounded off a superb weekend and although Peter was modest in his description that he only send out a few e-mails and made a few phone calls Fran was quick to add that it was much more than this. Indeed he was spot on in his assessment. However, everyone agreed that it was Martin, Lynn, Andrew, Mark and all the staff who were the real stars and for all of them there was a heartfelt applause and thanks.

 

Departure

Following another excellent breakfast we all gathered together for our goodbyes. Andrew and Arlene were concerned about their oil loss but remedial action from Dave Jones together with a thicker oil saw them off. Andrew was slightly pessimistic about their chances of getting home without calling the RAC but Arlene was confident and as we heard later she was justified as they arrived back in Yorkshire safe and sound!

Dave Jones’s problem with his discharging battery resolved itself following an overnight charge in the hotel workshop.

Everyone else got home safely. Though Fran and Jan had a puncture on the M40 but were quickly rescued by the AA and were on the way home within 40 minutes of making the call.
All in all, a great weekend and well done to the varied cross section of One and a Quarter Litre saloons and a tourer, together with Derek’s TD, which was of course spawned from a Y!

We look forward to going to Llanerchindda Farm again.