Published On: February 3, 2024Tags: , ,

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FIRST UP: ABR FESTIVAL

When the opportunity arose to work at the ’23 ABR Festival via Motorcycle Marketing I of course said yes! There wasn’t a better place to work for a brand I’ve been using many years prior: Peak Design. And so my adventure started. It was the first trip after completing my DesertX’s makeover. New colors, new gear and one happy biker.

I rolled out into Harwich’s international port, ready to make my way to Warwickshire. I couldn’t wait for this weekend because it is the UK’s Biggest Motorcycle Festival held in the stunning grounds of the Ragley Hall Estate, Warwickshire. The Peak Design stand was located at A Bike Thing, a UK-based shop operating worldwide. It was an extremely hot and busy weekend, in which I got to meet lots of riders and make many heads turn towards the incredible Peak Design products. Luckily I had some extra days to spend which were incredible, but it was way too short!

* This trip can also be seen as a series on my YouTube channel, scroll down to start watching.

AND WHEN THE EVENT IS OVER

It just simply means the next adventure is around the corner. After an incredible weekend full of new impressions, connections and everyone’s enthusiasm I headed north for a mini trip. Since I only had a week this time before I needed to return to The Netherlands, I tried to plan more than I usually do. My first stop was the Horseshoe Pass. I included the old pass, which to me was a bit more beautiful.

The sheep running in front of me and the calmness of the luscious green valleys were exactly how I envisioned Wales. And simultaneously it surprised me, seeing its sheer beauty and it being so close to home. As it wasn’t the best weather, I decided to warm up with a lasagna pea dish in the Ponderosa Cafe.

As the threatening clouds almost touched the summits I slowly made my way to Nant Ffrancon, where I passed Pont Pen-y-benglog. This area left me speechless and I felt as if I was on the other side of the world. The colors were so vibrant and with only a few cars passing me on the main road I could enjoy my surroundings to the fullest.

As I left the impressive scenery behind I knew I would be having a good one on my last stop of the day: South Stack lighthouse. Again, a completely different side of Wales I did not expect to find with its rugged coastline. As I stood there looking at the “no drones allowed” sign, I was bummed I couldn’t catch that birds eye view. That was probably for the best because the wind would have just blown it away anyway. With not walking down the steps at the lighthouse I missed the opportunity of a lifetime to watch hundreds if not thousands of Atlantic puffins. Later that night while transferring my content, I caught a glimpse of them while zooming in on my pictures. Bummer.

RAIN, RAIN, GO AWAY!

Or actually, no, stay! Starting this day with heavy rains made me question if I should change my route. In the end I decided against it and I’m glad I got through Snowdonia National Park even though visibility was poor. Let’s just say I got the full Wales experience and I loved it. Pen-Y-Pass was nowhere to be seen with all the fog, but still beautiful from the snippets I spotted. Everything after that made my jaw drop because of the moody color palette. With its deep green valleys and herds of sheep everywhere I fully enjoyed the Crimea pass, Dinas Mawddwt Pass and Elan Valley.

When it cleared up a bit I was finally able to get my drone in the air. I unexpectedly came closer to the Devil’s Staircase a little later and I couldn’t contain my excitement. The 25% drop was easily felt and I stopped again for some aerial content. Could it get any more picture perfect? Ending my day with a nice bit of gravel was not exactly what I thought I’d encounter as it looked like a normal road, but I went for it. Only to have a big disappointment of a closed gate on the other side. Only one way back, good for some extra offroad experience.

YOU’RE KIND OF BLOCKING MY SHOT…

Waking up to a grey sky couldn’t ruin my day. I would just go with the flow and accept any type of weather. And I quickly had to accept just that. Another great road that I wouldn’t be able to see at all: the Black Mountain Road. I heard it was one of the greatest biker roads in the area, so of course I had to check it out. The only thing standing out were my high-viz aux lights.

After a work-related video call at a bus stop where I could find some shelter, I continued my way along the small country roads with house-high hedges. Some parts were tricky with blocked views and others were completely clear to see for kilometers ahead. The diversity here was once again astonishing. Even though a sign said the Gospel Pass was closed halfway, I rode up. And I’m happy I didn’t let the sign hold me back.

As soon as I gained some altitude the sky cleared up and Shetland ponies looked at me hopefully while I parked on a large field more green than the grass in Switzerland. It didn’t take long before I had company, curious to see if I might have any food in those panniers. I struggled to take some pictures, as they were kind of blocking my shots the entire time. But I forgave them, with that high sweetness factor. The patches of land around me looked like a large knitted blanket covering the mountain. Simply beautiful.

On my way to Llanthony Priory the sun showed itself again and the partly ruined former Augustinian priory looked majestic. It’s locked away in the secluded Vale of Ewyas. In the UK movie of Adventure Country Tracks I spotted this serene location and instantly pinned it. There were maybe a hundred sheep bleating in the field next to it, adding to the atmosphere. I’ve been told you could spent the night here, but I continued.

Too bad my last stop before looking for accomodation was closed for that day, due to a private event. I had gotten rather hungry and I was gutted I couldn’t enjoy some biker talks and a nice burger, but when I return to Wales I will try again at Baffle Haus!

A HISTORICAL DAY FULL OF SURPRISES

Birds chirping and not a cloud in the sky, I opened my curtains and looked at the bike parked in front of my hotel. It was going to be a good day, I knew it. I was at Cheddar Gorge within a few minutes were I spotted Soay sheep in every corner. Riding here is not what I expected it to be. In only 4 kilometers you feel as if you’re entering a completely different world with steep cliffs right next to the meadows. As I had a hard time keeping my eyes on the road, I could only think to myself “what a surreal place”.

Surely the next location is known worldwide for its iconic status, but getting there was a bit harder than I thought it would be. As I see the Glastonbury Tor sticking out everywhere, I’m quite lost in terms of which road to follow. I ended up on the road next to it and due to my full program this day I got the drone out and skipped the walk up. I could have regretted that later seeing which views were waiting for me…

But, I knew I had some walking ahead of me as I steered towards Durdle Door. As I parked the bike I felt the sun burn so I prepared myself for a brisk walk down by taking off some layers, filled up my camel bag and added a thick layer of sunblock. It felt as if I was descending the Cheddar Gorge, that’s how steep it was. And I knew I also had to climb back up again. A struggle for later. Safe to say the 15 minute walk was worth every step as I spotted the arch in the water (I may have edited out all the tourists…). Lulworth cove was equally beautiful and less of a walk down and only 10 minutes apart from Durdle Door. Make sure to include both while you’re on the south coast and enjoy some delicious ice cream in one of the picturesque shops.

After cooling down I even managed to set up camp after passing Stonehenge while I prepared myself for my last day in the UK. The road next to the monument offered somewhat of a view but you better enter the park for the real deal. It was good enough for me, although I did gasp looking at the height difference between the stones and people walking on the grounds. It was time to get some sleep before a chaotic day in London.

AND A CHAOTIC ONE IN LONDON

Well, what can I say. Not a big fan of huge cities or very crowded places, but I did want to visit London ONCE in my life. I think the motorcycle was the perfect transport, but a bicycle would’ve maybe been even better. After spotting some highlights like the Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, The Mall and Buckingham Palace, I got stuck in a huge traffic jam and it took me almost two hours to leave the city center.

After a stop at my friend Phil Jones and a quick photoshoot (he shot the ones below, thnx mate!), I continued to my hotel near the Harwich port. It would be an early morning again to leave for The Netherlands. I couldn’t believe it went by so fast, but I was only in the UK for a little over a week. So time to make plans to come back!

START WATCHING MY UK SERIES

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