Over the last 10 years, the “I can do that any time” mentality has led me away from my native Great Britain in search of faraway adventure and discovery. Having reached the ripe age of 32 having hardly seen any of England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland, I have belatedly realised that I have been bullshitting myself all this time. Yes, of course I can explore my own country any time – but I haven’t. I’ve been to Colombia, but not Wales, Australia but not Ireland, Thailand but not the midlands! You get the idea.
So. As part of a personal quest to explore the UK, I tempted two of my foreign besties into a very British road trip. Read and recreate at your leisure:
London to Bristol (2h 30m)
A straight trip to collect one friend from Bristol, an excellent breakfast at The Crafty Egg Cafe and back on the road
Bristol to The Brecon Beacons (2h 50m)
As we go further west, the countryside starts to get really pretty. Wild flowers, meadows, rolling hills and of course, lots of sheep.
The Talybont Reservoir marks our arrival at our home for the night:
We stayed one night at the YHA Hostel Brecon Beacons Danywenallt in an idyllic spot next to a reservoir where a triple room will set you back £75 per night. Not much of a social scene – mainly middle-aged couples and solos, but beautifully situated for loads of different hikes. Note: Make sure you take your own food and drink – it really is in the middle of nowhere.
We followed a few trails through the forest to wend our way to the nearby village of Talbont on Usk. At this point, the quintessentially Welsh drizzle lets up just long enough to shine some sun rays on us as we eat lunch at The White Hart pub by the Caerfanell canal.
Done with walking, we decided to get back in the car to try out the Black Mountain Pass – driving from Llandovery to Gwaun-Cae-Gurwena on a scenic route full of hairpin bends and high altitudes that was once featured on Top Gear.
The Brecon Beacons to Bibury (The Cotswolds) (2h 40m)
We start our criss-crossing through the Cotswolds in Bibury – a stepford-wives-perfect village on the banks of the River Coln. A quick and civilised stop for tea and cake and we are back on our way.
Weaving through Bibury, Northleach, Little Barrington, Burford, Bourton-on-the-Water, Upper and Lower Slaughter and Great Rissington, the cotswolds did not disappoint.
The Cotswolds to Oxford (45m)
Our shortest drive takes us to the intoxicating city of Oxford. A historic city with a student buzz makes Oxford the perfect final stop on our weekend jaunt.
A late lunch in the beer garden at the hard-to-find Turf Tavern prepares us for our journey back to London.
Oxford to London (1h 30m)