The Welsh National Rally is an annual event organised by Clive MCC challenging motorcyclists to explore towns and villages all over Wales in a single day with awards given out depending on number of locations visited. The 2019 ride took place on Saturday May 4th.
The entry cost was Â£25 which covers your map of checkpoints, third party insurance during the event and your award at the end.
A few weeks before the event, the organisers send out a map of locations and the rules and requirements for each award. You can start planning a route straight away but won’t find out exactly what you need to do until the big day.
Getting to the start took a little more planning this year as I’d be travelling from the Isle of Man – so on Friday afternoon, I set off sailing for Liverpool with the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.
After a a short ride down to Welshpool I got checked in to the hotel and met Lau who was riding up from Wiltshire to join me. Knowing that the next day’s refreshments would consist mainly of cereal bars and coffee was all the excuse we needed for a good meal.
Up bright and early the next morning to fill up with petrol – then on to the start of the rally at Welshpool Livestock Market.
At the start, after signing in, you’re given a Control Card – which you will use to record your progress and claim your award at the end. Alongside this is a sheet of questions about each of the locations – which you need to answer correctly to prove that you’ve been there.
In addition to the clues, you also need to visit some manned locations where you’ll have your control card stamped as proof of your visit – and answer some general knowledge questions which are used to award points at the end (and give you an excuse for a few minutes break from riding)
The possible awards are
- Platinum – 15 unmanned, 3 manned and 4 dragon locations
- Gold – 12 unmanned and 3 manned locations
- Silver – 2 manned and 8 unmanned locations
- Bronze – 1 manned and 5 unmanned locations
And an additional “Dragon” award given for visiting 4 extra locations on a certain theme – this year the theme was Welsh Historic Houses. This is an optional extra for everything except Platinum.
Your route is entirely up to you and there are 40 unmanned, 6 manned and 9 dragon locations to choose from – covering most of Wales.
So after signing in and filling out a few details on our control cards, we were off to our first location…
Bwlch Y Cibau – What is in the telephone box next to the bus stop?
Llanfyllin, Workhouse – The sign at the entrance shows a bed, museum, anvil and what else? (Dragon)
As our hotel was in Llanfyllin and we’d missed breakfast due to leaving before it was served, we called back in to correct that – and have a read through the other clues we’d need to find on our route while we waited.
Llangynog – How many glazed openings on the front elevation of the chapel next to the New Inn?
Llandrillo – What 3 letters are below the dragon on the plaque on the wooden bridge?
Llandegla – What Welsh inscription is on the war memorial?
Pontblyddyn, Plas Teg – What is the background colour of the opening hours sign? (Dragon)
Denbigh – A&D Motorcycles (Manned Control)
Colwyn Bay – Colwyn Bay Motorcycles (Manned Control)
Llangernyw – What is the date on the water tap opposite the shop in the centre of the village?
If you’re struggling to find any of the locations, the crowd of bikes gathered around something in the early stages of the rally are a good indication! You see less and less towards the end as people return to the finish to claim their awards.
Llanrwst – What is the name of the house (now a cafe) just over the Pont Fawr bridge? (Dragon)
Nant Gwynant – Approaching from the North East. Pull in ro lay by on left just before terrace of houses. There is a new telephone/electrical pole. What characters are carved in to the pole?
This one caused us a little trouble as we weren’t sure if we were in the right place or not. After discussing with some other riders who arrived – and were equally confused, we wrote down what we thought were the right characters – but took a few photos just in case, so we could at least prove that we’d visited!
Criccieth – What bird is pictured on the information board?
Tan-y-Bwlch Station (Manned control)
A station on the Ffestiniog Railway. Our last manned control, and we were lucky enough to enjoy a steam train arriving while we were there.
Having all the manned controls completed is a big relief as they only open until 6pm.
Llanbedr – By whose order would any one throwing refuse on the site be prosecuted?
Barmouth – What is the height limit on the railway bridge opposite the Last Inn?
Just as I was taking a photo of the bridge, somebody walking past insisted on taking my photo!
In previous years, we’ve crossed the river out of Barmouth across the railway bridge which has a small path running alongside that still allows motorbikes – but this year opted for the toll bridge at Penmaenpool. Riding over the bumpy wooden bridge wasn’t the most comfortable river crossing!
Brithdir – How long is the Mari Jones walk on the information board?
Dinas Mawddwy – According to the information board, what 3 things come from “Mawddwy”?
Llanbrynmair – What is attached to the lamp post opposite the Wynnstay Arms?
Llanbadarn Fynydd – In the lay-by on the main road, what is the fine for not taking your litter home?
Knucklas – At the Castle Inn pub, how many dragons are on the sign?
As we were about to get back on the bikes, somebody came over to ask what we were doing, as he’d seen loads of bikes stopping, writing things down and then leaving straight away. We showed him our map and explained about the WNR. Pretty sure he thought we were mad.
Montgomery – When was the clock on the town hall erected?
Montgomery (again!) – What is the name of the Sexton’s house opposite the main entrance to the church? (Dragon)
After a full day of riding, we were exhausted by this point – so it was a relief when we realised we could see the last two locations from eachother!
And then on to the finish line back at Welshpool Livestock Market to hand in our control cards and claim our platinum and dragon awards.
This was a great day out, taking us on roads we’d not usually ride on to locations we wouldn’t otherwise visit. Thanks to Clive MCC for such a well organised event and see you at another one in the future. The 2020 event takes place on Saturday 2nd May and registration is already open.
Our route, courtesy of Google Maps: