B4518, Mid Wales, UK

This Great Road, written by Ali Cusick, was initially published in issue 96 of Total 911.

We’re back in one of our usual haunts – a good jaunt in mid Wales – for another fun length of tarmac: the B4518.

Starting at Llanidloes, pretty much slap bang between the Welsh/English border to the east and the sea to the west, we head roughly north on a curving route towards Snowdonia. As you might expect, this is pretty much classic Welsh reservoir country, and sure enough we take in one on the drive. It’s a bit of a joke to say you could stick a pin on a map of mid Wales and still find a good drive.

Nevertheless, it’s at least partially true, for the fairly low population density, open greenery and scenery makes for an interesting driving infrastructure compared to the cities, though it still takes intelligence to ferret out the better roads in the area. We usually drive it south to north, though neither way short-changes the driver.

The start soon throws off the houses and village shops, and then the drive begins in the manner to follow: a good, two-lane road, close hedges and gentle curves, with a steady rise to work against. A little further on, we shrug off the hedges from the roadside as the view opens out to green rolling valleys, with the road threading ahead, still rising in altitude.

LOCATION: Llanidloes

LATITUDE: 52.4459 -3.5401

LENGTH OF DRIVE: 15 miles

POINTS OF INTEREST:
Centre for Alternative Technology
Clay pigeon shooting
Red Dragon Bushcraft courses
Devils Bridge Falls, Snowdonia
Bryntail Lead Mine
Lots of walking

FOOD AND ACCOMMODATION:
www.unicornllanidloes.co.uk

www.lloydshotel.co.uk

www.purnellsrestaurant.com

This is how we continue for a few miles or so until we pass the water feature on the left – Llyn Clywedog Reservoir – where there’s a small lay-by if you fancy a break to take in the surroundings with the family. This is a good driving route, with a nice open aspect to the road. With nothing too tight or poorly sighted, it’s a good, steady weave, all the time working the car against the rising terrain.

A little further on, the road changes character a little as it weaves through a few farms and village communities. We’re now down to a single lane and some tight bends that do require slowing down. Don’t lose heart, however, for this is a lovely place to be.

Here, between Staylittle and Pennant, there’s good sightlines in the main and decent progress is made through typical Welsh backwaters despite the single track. The final section opens out, rolling towards the end after Bont Dolgadfan as the lower reaches of Snowdonia appear in the distance.

It’s a common route to take from South Wales to the north, which adds up a few good bits of road… and some not so good, we have to say. It’s easy to create a circuitous route from the bottom to the top of good stuff, though, and the B4518 usually gets included. There’s good driving off the route too, as you’d expect, particularly towards Machynlleth if you want to explore.

Of course, being Wales, you may have to slow down occasionally for a village, but that usually means there’ll be a good pub lunch to keep you going on to the next route. Perfect!



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