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Great Roads: Abergwesyn Pass, Mid Wales, UK

This Great Road was initially published in issue 92 of Total 911.

Abergwesyn Pass

Last month’s Great Road got me thinking about occasions when speed isn’t a main factor, and where the motor car is a method of exploring in itself. Following this, another road came to mind that perfectly matched this idea: the Abergwesyn Pass, located in the quiet backwaters of Wales.

If you prefer the flat-out apex swapping of higher-speed roads then this may not be for you, but on the other hand if you’re looking for a place to head for a memorable day out in your 911 then this one is worth keeping in mind.

Around 14 miles in length, it loosely joins Builth Wells in the east and Tregaron in the west. The joy, though, is in the way it connects them. Rural mid-Wales is sparsely populated in the main, and the major factor of the road is definitely the scenery.

Forgetting about speed – or perhaps the lack of it at times – for a driving road through an interesting landscape, the Abergwesyn Pass is one of the best in the UK in my view, second only to Scotland.

It is driveable either way. From Abergwesyn, perhaps the true start from the west, you’ll get the best presentation of a near-perfect Welsh valley view a few miles in, but then again, coming from Tregaron you’ll not exactly be short-changed in the view department either. Think single track rally stage, and you’ll not be far from the general make-up of the road’s character and condition.

Leaving Abergwesyn, the road casually threads into the wilderness and slowly reveals the gem of the trip for me – an open valley with gentle hills on either side, the road jiggling along the right-hand slope. This is probably the slowest part of the route, where a few blind crests mean you may even be in first gear to roll over.

But we’re not always in a rush, so take your time, be safe and enjoy both the view and your 911’s character. To add further to the indignity of driving a 911 slowly, the road crosses a river three times in the far distance here. During heavy rainfall, the water can reach the bridge. In the event of flooding, use your common sense with regards to entering it in such a low car.

The road then rises on a set of bends called the Devil’s Staircase, with some 25 per cent gradients thrown in to keep interest, before a fairly level section across some empty hillside and forest sections, where another steep descent reveals the other side of the hill.

Thankfully, better sight lines are also a feature, as are even more views and plenty of forestry land. Do take time to explore the road south to Llyn Brianne, which is just as fun in itself, as is the Elan Valley route nearby.

We debated whether it was a Great Drive in terms of a 911. As mentioned, speed doesn’t form part of the trip, but not everyone wants to drive at ‘maximum’ all the time. We were last there with two GT3s, and they coped without issue, but we would possibly suggest it’s more for softer sprung variants, merely to improve passenger comfort.

It is narrow, really twisty and very scenic; all good for 911s – you just won’t use much fourth gear maximum throttle. For a great 911 drive, however, it is definitely worthy, and a damn sight nearer than Wester Ross or the Isle of Skye!

LOCATION: Abergwesyn, Powys

LATITUDE: 52.1604 -3.6762

LENGTH OF DRIVE: 14 miles

POINTS OF INTEREST:
Gigrin Farm, Red Kite feeding
Brecon Beacons
Hay-on Wye Book Festival
Coed Trallwm Mountain Bike Centre
Brecon Jazz Festival

FOOD AND ACCOMMODATION:
Trecoed Farm, Builth Wells
www.trecoedfarminbuilthwells.co.uk

Acorn Court Country House
www.acorncourt.co.uk

The Drawing Room
www.the-drawing-room.co.uk

Red Lion Inn
01597 860204

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