What I Discovered About Driving on my Welsh Road Trip
Having been limited to urban backroads and dreary dual carriageways for the bulk of driving life, my Welsh adventure showed me a whole new world.
Driving can often be a tedious pursuit. For car enthusiasts this tedium can often be amplified as we sit behind an unremarkable Euro-box at 28mph, yearning for an open road where we can really stretch the legs of our chosen chariot. Every once in a while, the yearn becomes strong enough that we take ourselves off to the more remote parts of the road network to get away from it all.
A year ago, along with a group of friends, I did just that for the first time and discovered a whole new world of motoring nirvana.
Discovering the Open Road
Like many keen drivers the most I'd ever gotten out of my car was on the nearest B road to wherever I lived at the time. Granted, being an Essex local there are enough of these to have the odd spirited drive, but the volume of traffic and brevity of the roads themselves can only satisfy so much.
A heavenly ribbon of asphalt draped over the Elan Valley
Our journey through Wales revealed what roads can truly offer. Long, sweeping bends, challenging kickbacks and the rise and fall provided by the underlying landscape allowed each of us to experience our cars in a whole new light. The driving experience became about more than just late breaking and aggressive throttle, it demanded you understood the road and drove it in a way that showcased its best characteristics, whether that was at speed or not.
Look Beyond the Bonnet
Now this is isn't advice about spotting your braking points, it's about how where the road is contributes as much to the driving experience as the technicalities of its layout.
It's obviously no epiphany that beautiful scenery makes things better, but the visceral addition of isolation and grandeur fundamentally changed how I drove the car and the imprint the trip left on me. There were moments that raw pace felt inappropriate - although boiled brakes were another contributor to that - and slowing down and pulling over gave a moment of reflection on the drive just gone and built the anticipation for the miles ahead.
Do it With Friends
I'm aware this has been a bit of a sentimental article and, unfortunately, it's going to get worse, but it can't go without saying that a road trip is a better experience with a group of like-minded individuals. Every part is enhanced, from setting off as a convoy for the initial motorway drudgery on the first day, to the conversations about the leg just gone at each evening pitstop. What would otherwise have just been a fun drive is turned into a lifelong memory due the company of others.
There's no Going Back
The biggest takeaway, however, from my Welsh road trip is a simple one; once you've experienced something like it you can't just go back to the normal commute. The attempt to satisfy the yearn you had when you set off has only caused it to grow more pronounced now you've returned home and you're left looking for your next fix.
So, I'll be heading to the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District this year for road trip number two.