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Review of Drover Holiday's Cycling Holiday, Wales

Posted by at 12:41 on Thursday 27 November 2014

Lucy Symons tests her balance riding a tandem through the mountains of Wales on Drover Holidays wonderful self-guided meander through Wye Valley.

>> For other things to do in the area see our Greentraveller Guide to Wales Brecon Beacons National Park

>> See all the tours listed on Greentraveller offered by Drover Holidays

Drover Holidays Sign photo: Lucy SymonsDrover Holidays Sign photo: Lucy SymonsRun by partners Anna and Luke, Drover Holidays was born out of the couple’s love of travel – slow travel by choice, on bikes or two feet (occasionally accompanied by a pack horse – but only in the extremes of South America).  Having been on their Grand Tour, they returned to Wales because, in spite of the glamour of the exotic international places they have been, very little compared to the beauty of home.  They now run a shop and a successful business based in Hay on Wye.  Unusually, they have tried (and succeeded) to make their shop and their business as lady friendly as possible.  Drover started out four years ago with a female mechanic running their bike shop, and Anna is in the shop and running some of the tours.  Apart from meaning the loo is lovely and clean, you will also notice a very welcome difference in the stock they carry and the atmosphere. Drover Holidays Shop Photo: Lucy SymonsDrover Holidays Shop Photo: Lucy Symons

Drover Holidays are currently offering a good smattering of well thought-out tours on foot or by bike – both guided and self-guided across the length and breadth of Wales from two nights to a fortnight.  They arrange everything for you – bike hire (mountain, road or electric), accommodation and also the portage of your gear.  We arrived to do their special tandem honeymoon offering (the Wye Valley Meander) and were set up with a bike, helmets, puncture repair kit, a lock, panniers and water-bottles as well as a waterproof custom map with our route highlighted and an auxiliary written route guide instructions and the direction to follow the Sustrans blue signs which helped us stick to route 8. Although you may be very grateful (as we were) for all this assistance, you can also choose to just hire or purchase bikes from them and head out on your own. 

Sustrans Sign for route 8 photo: Lucy SymonsSustrans Sign for route 8 photo: Lucy Symons

This is all about experiencing the unique things that Wales has to offer.  We started at the delightful The Start B&B on the banks of the river Wye, run by Dawn and Steve who are the consummate hosts, and purveyors of fine breakfasts, home-made sausages (veggie and gluten free!), amazing jams and Mad Taff’s cider.  From here, Drover Holidays is a short distance where we were set up on a tandem.  Having never ridden one before, and after our seat heights were sorted out, we were instructed in the best ways to communicate and encouraged to do a quick turn of the safe car park to figure out how we were going to manage (surprisingly, pretty well!) and then taken to the beginning of the ride where with a gentle boost, off we wobbled.  Mostly following dedicated paths or very quiet roads, we pootled (ever less unstable) from Builth (“Rhymes with “Filth”!”we were told gleefully, by a local) along the river Wye enjoying the beautiful pastoral loveliness of the Black Mountains and the Brecons Beacon National Park.  Tandem resting by the egg hut photo: Lucy SymonsTandem resting by the egg hut photo: Lucy SymonsHonestly gorgeous, even in the Welsh Sunshine (that would be “rain” to you or me), we saw some of the best of the countryside, tiny villages, rolling fields, rugged mountains and delightful craft stores. We took a well earned stop at Erwood Station (excusing ourselves by designating it as “research”.  Obviously.) – a delightful former rail station with a railway carriage converted to a shop front selling everything local from jams to knitted hats and scarves to pottery and wood crafts, and partook of delicious tea and cake (gluten free!  Full marks!)Tandem resting at Erwood photo: Lucy SymonsTandem resting at Erwood photo: Lucy Symons

Riding a tandem is a hoot – we chatted non-stop and laughed our heads off.  You really have no need for a pack horse as all you need for the day will fit in the paniers provided, but you do need to be fairly communicative and have a decent level of fitness and balance, but the initial wibbles were well worth persevering through.  And, should you survive your tandem trip (and we faired very well, but decided if there were any cracks in your relationship, taking to a tandem may well be the seismic ruction required to earthquake you into thinking seriously about where you are heading) you can return for a self-guided family trip, complete with baby seat.

Sustrans Sign roadside for route 8 photo: Lucy SymonsSustrans Sign roadside for route 8 photo: Lucy SymonsDrover Holidays feel very strongly about balancing the needs of the visitor, the natural environment and the local community which they have done to such a successful degree they received a well deserved gold from the Green Tourism Business Scheme.

>> For other things to do in the area see our Greentraveller Guide to Wales Brecon Beacons National Park

Posted by Lucy Symons

>> See all the tours listed on Greentraveller offered by Drover Holidays

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