he Road to Brecon
In the heart of Wales sits 15 1/2 square miles of spectacular mountainous countryside. Taking in two of Britain’s most famous rivers, the Wye and the Avon, it’s easy to see why Powys – the largest county in Wales – attracts thousands of visitors year after year. Whilst it has to be said that most of these people can either be found wandering up hills with their trousers tucked in their socks or throwing themselves down a hill on 4 grands worth of child’s toy, there’s a hidden gem between the market towns of Builth Wells and Brecon that everyone should flock to see.
I give you the B4520, a 16mile stretch of smile-inducing tarmac. Heading south out of Builth Wells, the road climbs like a rollercoaster and fills you with a sense of excitement of what’s to come. Unfortunately you’re rewarded with three miles of blind crests, farm vehicles and single lanes. I felt a bit like I’d just queued an hour for the Behemoth, only to discover that I’d been in line for the tea cups, but I drove on regardless hoping the road would warm up a bit.
Sure enough the road starts to unravel and it finds its rhythm. Before you know it, you’re stringing together sweeping turns across the undulating moorland terrain. It’s at this point that you’ll probably find yourself with a case of TAFS (twitchy accelerator foot syndrome), but before you get too enthusiastic with your right foot remember this: you don’t own the roads round here the sheep do, and they don’t seem to be too scared of cars. Get out for a pee and they’ll run like hell, papping their woolly little pants, but cars – pah. So this means that your chances of a little lamb chop tango around the corner is quite high and it won’t be just his jumper you’ll ruin.
Whipping over cattle grids you sweep from turn to turn and the road really starts to put you through your paces. It’s a busy little road and in one section in particular you can feel the road getting quite hostile as your tyres cling to the tarmac, while the road does its best to buck you into the hedgerow. You can feel it urging you to drive it harder and that it secretly quite likes it.
You may or may not be aware that the MOD are rather fond of this area and as you head closer to the Beacons you may notice a few explosions in the middle distance but, to be honest, you will be too focused on the road to care. As you venture on, the mood seems to mellow a little in comparison with what’s gone before and the road starts to resemble your more familiar country lane but, by way of a few thanks for the memories’, the old gal pulls out a few big dippers any theme park would be proud of.