Saturday, 9 August 2014

Blat to Aberystwyth and Back... In a Day!

Quite a few months ago, a blat had been organised to go to Wales to explore the lovely roads there.  The original plan was to get up early on Saturday morning, drive there, blat until we dropped, camp out then do it all again on the Sunday and return home.  However... with the looming bad weather forecast, the weekend quite quickly changed to a mega one day event.

So at 4:45 it was out with the car to meet up with the guys at Reading services on the M4.
Leaving for Wales at 4:45am
Leaving for Wales at 4:45am
A mildly slippery and dull hour and a half later I turned up at Reading services, where Alex (white R500) had been waiting for a couple of minutes, quickly followed by Andy (blue R300) and Steve (Black 1600 Superlight K Series).
The boys meeting up ready for the blat of the year!
The boys meeting up ready for the blat of the year!
We got the pleasantries out of the way pretty quickly - had a coffee and a bacon bap, at which point I decided to run up a tab of the day to see how much a day like this costs and then we hit the road - current spend £5.  I think we left Reading services around 7am... A bit of fun on the motorway, and around an hour later we arrived at Chepstow services for a fuel fill at and a couple of bottles of water, current day total now £42.87.  We prepped ourselves and got ready for the good stuff.
At Chepstow services getting ready for the good stuff...
At Chepstow services getting ready for the good stuff...
The first route was from Chepstow to Builth with a stop off half way to grab some fuel £24.14 and a cheeseburger and fries from the Burger King £1.98, current spend total £68.99.
The route we took from Chepstow to Builth
The route we took from Chepstow to Builth
A couple of hours and many miles of great blatting roads later we stopped off at the dam at Pen Y Garreg in the Elan Valley and took some pictures... Link to the 6 Dams website is here:
 
2x Caterham R500's, 1x Caterham R300 and 1x Caterham K series 1600 Supersport at the Pen Y Garreg Dam
2x Caterham R500's, 1x Caterham R300 and 1x Caterham K series 1600 Supersport at the Pen Y Garreg Dam.

left to right... Me, Steve, Alex and Andy with our Caterhams at the Pen Y Garreg Dam.
left to right... Me, Steve, Alex and Andy with our Caterhams at the Pen Y Garreg Dam.

Caterham R500 interior shot at the Pen Y Garreg Dam
Caterham R500 interior shot at the Pen Y Garreg Dam.
We left the dam, heading onto Aberystwyth where we intended to stop off for some lunch and make a decision as to which route back we were going to take.

Builth to Aderystwith blat route via the dam at Pen Y Garreg in the Elan valley
Builth to Aderystwith blat route via the dam at Pen Y Garreg in the Elan valley

Another hour or so later we arrived at Aberystwyth...  The weather was superb, so we parked the cars up on the promenade and stopped for some lunch.  Lunch consisted of fish, chips, mushy peas and a diet coke to wash it all down - another £7.20... Total spend up to £76.19...
Caterham's parked up on Aberystwith promenade.
Caterham's parked up on Aberystwith promenade.
Aiming to take as much advantage as possible of the better than forecast weather, we decided to make our way to the Top Gear mountain road which was about 100 mile cross country blat from Aberystwyth, so it was another fill of fuel at £14.01 and off we went... Total spend now £90.20 
Aberystwyth to Top Gear mountain road route.
Aberystwyth to Top Gear mountain road route.
The weather turned somewhat on the way there through the Western end of the Elan Valley , B4574, near Cwmystwyth so we stopped for a picture, a 'comfort break' and to let the clouds blow past.
Western end of the Elan Valley , B4574, near Cwmystwyth
Western end of the Elan Valley , B4574, near Cwmystwyth
Probably around two hours later we arrived at the bottom of the Top Gear mountain road... Started our ascent and the heavens opened..! so half way up we stopped to take some shelter - which wasn't easy as we all had aero screens... Luckily I had anticipated the odd shower and packed my car cover, much to the amusement of everyone else... That is until it rained and I wasn't so stupid then, or at least I thought I wasn't, as whilst hurriedly covering the car I failed to notice the car cover resting on the exhaust and melting rapidly.  The exhaust and cat looked a right mess, but once it cooled down it was quite easy to pull the plastic off, however there are still some marks on the exhaust, so I've got a metal polishing kit and will do a post about (hopefully) making it perfect again!
Three people taking cover from the rain in a Caterham R500... or are they dogging?!?
Three people taking cover from the rain in a Caterham R500... or are they dogging?!?
Once we'd got 'mildy moist' half way up the Top Gear mountain road with time pushing on, we decided to call it a day.  We headed back via a service station for yup, more fuel... £28.55 along with a mint Kit Kat Chunky and a bottle of water... Total spend for the day creeping into the hundred pound bracket at £118.75
 
We headed back to the M4 which we hit around 6pm.  An hour or so into the journey home on the M4 it was time for more fuel, £19.98 bringing the days total to £138.73... Another hour and a half back home, and as the reserve fuel light had been on for 10 miles or so I thought it best to completely fill up to have an accurate cost for the day... So I filled up under a mile from home which was another £36.02 going in, bringing the total for the day to £174.75.

So in summary, the day cost £174.75 fuelling both me and the car, I'd say another tenner or so on topping up the oil and general consumables and 636 miles of depreciation... Well that's looking on the negative... On the positive, it was an absolutely superb day of blatting and I'd highly recommend anyone who has a seven who is considering going to go.  Yes, the motorways there and back are boring, but the roads when you get there well and truly make up for it. Doing the whole lot in a day was a bit much, especially as I live in Hertfordshire, but otherwise an altogether amazing day.
 

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