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Fuzz’s Favourite UK Drives

By Fuzz Townshend

Driving out to play the drums for bands, and heading to TV filming locations has offered me the chance to experience many roads the length and breadth of the United Kingdom.

The roads that I’ve chosen to share with you will not necessarily test your mettle as a driver, but they do offer opportunities to detour into ancient towns, perhaps proffer magnificent views, or merely present rhythmic flowing driving opportunities to an end destination.

Should you choose to have a drive on these routes, I hope that you will take time to mooch. Forests, farm shops, antiques emporia, restaurants, cafes, tea vans, ancient, bypassed towns and villages all offer such opportunities.

Accents shift as vistas change and wherever you decide your end destination will be, I do hope that you will have spent plenty of time reaching it.

For this long, flowing drive, I’ll be taking my 1959 Jensen 541R, a gently growling fifties GT, bags packed for, well who knows how long. Let’s play it by ear.

Whatever you are driving, do it with your special person or people to increase the magic. It’s all about the journey.

Bishops Castle to Swansea and Gower Peninsula

We begin our epic journey in one of the UK’s smallest towns, with its population of a little under 2,000. But don’t let its size fool you, this eccentric and vibrant little town comes with a reputation for great artisanship, creativity and a rather fine line in good time living, with its six public houses, some of which offer accommodation.

BC, as it’s known, was once my home, so stay a while and absorb its great vibes.

Our route takes us out via Clun, with its castle ruins and tempting hostelries and via a twisting route to Knighton, a fine Welsh small border town.

Don’t be confused, because now we are heading for Kington, either taking the slightly quicker route via Evenjobb, or having a nosey through Presteigne.

Setting out from Kington we take the road past the deliciously creepy (at dusk) Hergest Court, which is reputedly haunted by a large black dog. This ghoulish hound is rumoured to be the inspiration behind Conan-Doyle’s ‘Hound of the Baskervilles.’

The route twists and turns through hamlets and villages via Brilley until meeting the A438 nearby the River Wye.

Now on the A438, enjoy opportunities to dart into Hay-On-Wye, famous for its literary festival and bookshops, as well as a few rather fine food shops, vintage stores and (ahem) hostelries.

Onwards, via, Clyro, Glasbury and Three Cocks, the A438 morphs into the A470 and the route continues towards Brecon, which offers further stop-off opportunities, although one might want to give ‘Britain’s most exorcised house’ (Heol Fanog) a miss.

Out of Brecon (which can be bypassed by taking the A40), we now take the A40 and thread down towards Swansea, skirting the ‘Craig-Y-Nos Country Park’, before passing through Ystradgynlais and eventually making Swansea.

Personally, I rather like Swansea, which is a compact and vibrant city, where you might decide to linger a while before taking a trundle along Mumbles Road which will lead you to Mumbles Head. This road, which hugs Swansea Bay, was once home to the much-missed Swansea and Mumbles Tramway, which must have been a grand ride in its heyday.

Alternatively, you may wish to continue and strike out westward and on to the Gower Peninsula. Having come so far, it would seem a shame not to book a night or two stay and further explore this beautiful wild and relaxing area, with its sandy beaches peppered with the melancholic remains of shipwrecks, while offering invigorating sea-breezy walks and rockpool investigating opportunities.

Whether you undertake this drive in or on a classic or a modern vehicle, please try to do so with an almost yogic flow, absorbing the beauty and unfamiliarity. Happy driving and I do hope that this route is something of a voyage of discovery.

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