This was our first Green Laning expedition. Having has the 109 a couple of years, and been toying with trying some 'off roading', I found a tread and contacted this chap 'Milemaster', AKA Keith Povah, who organises expeditions around the UK for himself, his mates, his Pejaro Owners club, and just about any-one else who fancies having a go. So, having let that settle for a couple of days, and noted the lack of anything going on over the Bank Holiday week end on the calender, I spotted Milemasters post about his greenlane trip in Wales on the LROi 'Green Lane Forum , and dropped him an e-mail, stunned that the wife was all for the idea.
That was Saturday morning, and we were supposed to be in Wales by 9.30am Sunday morning. So, frantic preparations were made, groceries bought, and a picnic Sunday lunch prepared. Then we had to drop something off at the sister-in-law's, and we acquired our six year old nephew, along with our own kids. 9.oopm Saturday, everything was thrown in the back of the Landie, kids sent to bed, and alarm clocks set
The A5, from Nuneaton to, well, most places really, is pretty dreary, until you get through Shopshire and into Wales, punctuated only by the road works for the BNRR (M6 toll).
We stopped once, in a lay by, for kids to relieve themselves, and arrived after a small detour where they have cut in a new section of bypass to the A5 just east of Llangollen, at the determined carpark for about quarter past nine.
Any way, Milemaster almost followed us through the gates, apearing in his gold Mitsubishi, with another behind.
Another chap, introduced himself having arrived by car - he was waiting for his son to arive in another Mitsubishi, and then one by one, the other members of the tour found us and got their driver briefing.
By ten o'clock we were all there and ready to set off; Three Mitsubishi's, a Discovery, a 110 Defender, and our old 109.
Ten past ten, and we are all filing back out onto the road, in convoy. Milemaster leading, with us behind, then the Disco, the two other Mitsubishi's, and the Defender shepherding from the back.
And within a few minutes, we are on narrow country lanes, that are getting more broken by the moment, and then we stop at a gate. Behind which is a ford. And in moments, having watched Milemasters Mitsubishi go through, the 109 is getting wet!
A little way up, we stop to admire the view.
Spectacular, isn't it?
So much open countryside, that you would just never get to see from an 'ordinary' road.
Then we drive through some well to do families back yard, and have to stop at their posh gates to let ourselves out!
Further on we head back onto loose surface, and start climbing, and climbing, and..... well, this thing has got sixteen gears - you'd think I could find ONE of them that was low enough!
After all THIS is what we have come for
And then it was off on the long and winding road across the moor.
And then it was back down, into the valleys to our lunch stop at Lake Vynwy, famouse for being a feat of Victorian civil engineering, supplying water to Liverpool, and being where they tested out the 'bouncing bomb' during WW2.
We took a leisurely hour for lunch, or at least the civilised members of our party did.
Our kids wolfed down their sandwiches and crisps in about thirty seconds, as usual, and tore off to find havoc to wreak. We found them a little bit later in the RSPB hide watching the squirrels attacking the bird feeder's and ignoring the manyfould species of bird that the RSPB have worked really hard with Severn Trent water to attract and protect. So, after all the rubbish had been cleared away and put in the dustbin, it was off on the second leg of the days travels. And more climbing.
This was proving to be the poor old S3's major weakness. It made it up every climb we encountered, but octogenarian ramblers were offering to give us a push as they walked past us up some of the steeper climbs!
But the view from the top was worth it
And then on to some rougher tracks, through another farmer's yard.
You know, its tighter than it looks! & seem to have a lot of pictures of my bonnet mounted spare, for some reason
But it all brought us back out on the black top, ready to tackle another ford. Disappointingly, the approaches had recently been graded with tarmac, and the stream was running low, so there wasn't actually any need for low box, but still, it was a ford.
And on to the last stop of the day Pistyll Rheadr falls, reputedly the tallest in Wales.
Which was to prove all most the end of the day's laning. Milemaster had planned about another hour, taking in some more loose and rough tracks, before heading in to Llangollen, but one of the party, taking photo's around the falls had a slip, that twisted her leg awkwardly, so she had to be carried back to the car. A quick driver's meeting was convened, and we all decided the best thing was to head back to Llangollen, missing the green lanes, so that Milemaster and her husband could get her over to the hospital and checked out, as she was in quite some pain.
So, we followed back through the hills, the S3 again down to crawling pace on some of the hills, to end up in another car park. Where we all thanked Milemaster for the run, and finished off the last of our hampers before heading home. At the end of the day, we weren't the only first timers having a go, and we were pleasantly surprised. We didn't need mega rugged off road tyres, a 4" lift, a winch, or even a spade, highlift or recovery rope - though Milemaster promiced us he did have that sort of kit in his Mitsubushi, if it had been needed. We didn't meet any militant ramblers or hostile natives, and we got exactly what we hoped for, beautiful scenery, without the ice-cream vans.
Now the wife reckons that I need a winch, and my eldest a CB radio, and the rest are all asking when the next one will be. Hmmm....What! HAVE! I Started!