Elan Valley, Powys, Wales
The Elan Valley has long been a favourite road for Total 911 staff. Thanks to its fast straights and technical bends, the route is often used for road tests in the magazine, the latest of which was our C2S v C4S test in issue 144.
But we’re here to talk about the road itself. Set among an idyllic landscape in the centre of Wales, the route largely avoids the tourist traffic found at Snowdonia in the north, while the variety of major trunk roads nearby ensures quicker routes are available for any parties wishing to get there from the south.
The road is enjoyable to drive from both directions but we prefer to travel from west to east, starting at Devil’s Bridge and finishing in Rhayader, the town with the greatest number of pubs per capita in the UK (an ideal stop-off then!).
Begin by joining the B4574 from Devil’s Bridge – the road was resurfaced in 2014, so it’s as smooth as a snooker tabletop to drive on. The corners come thick and fast, switching from left to right as you negotiate the steep hill.
A new steel barrier runs along the route here, preventing the possibility of a dramatic tumble if you get it wrong as the road narrows. Once you roll over a cattle grid you’re on an unnamed road, as the B4574 officially stops here according to the road maps.
The road surface is older but it’s of high quality and serves as the ultimate chassis test as the road weaves along the valley. Eventually, you’ll cross the valley and continue up and along the southern face, where the road is at its narrowest.
A short stop at the Cwmystwyth lead mine is recommended, before climbing back into your 911 for the second – and faster – half of the route.
Now you can really pick up the pace: the road is wider, corners are well sighted and there are huge straights to open up the throttle, your 911’s flat-six bark bouncing off the hills all around.
At Rhayader a T-junction marks the end of a dramatic route that’s brimming with character. We recommend driving it a few times to really get the best of the various challenges it offers.