There’s a secluded field in the heart of the Brecon Beacon in the Cwm Llwch valley right at the foot of Pen y Fan, the largest mountain in Southern Britain.
On Saturday night I just happen to mention the great forecast for Sunday and so came about a spontaneous overnighter that we hadn’t really planned. It was a bank holiday weekend, the forecast glorious and so far too good an opportunity to miss we thought.
On the drive up we worked out that I had been coming back and for this site on and off for the best part of 24 years. The first visit back at the age of 15 with a school friend. Parents dropped us in Libanus on the Friday and arranged to pick us up at Pont-ar-Daf at 4 on the Sunday. And that was back in the days before mobiles. How times have changed, eh! Even though I’m of the opinion that the dangers in the mountains have hardly changed in that time I still struggle with the idea of leaving my kids out alone for that length time.
Mind you I do have two girls and perhaps that makes a difference. But it just goes to show that the most beautiful places on our Earth are often not only on our doorstep but are a draw that keep pulling you back time after time.
So we arrived and Lis (with it being her first visit to this place) picked our camp spot quickly. A nice flat spot with a view of Pen y Fan to the South and what would develop into a glorious sunset to our West and just a few feet to our right beyond our campfire we could see and hear the gentle ebb and flow of the Cwm Llwch stream. If you’ve never been and you don’t mind roughing it then I suggest you get Google open and start searching for this place. When I say roughing it mind I do mean that, literally it is a field with a view. I’d suggest packing either a good shovel or Imodium!!
On Monday we took a walk up through the meandering valley towards Pen Y Fan and a little over half way up after several kilometres you are again blessed with another beautiful sight in the form of Pen Y Fan pond. Another hidden gem that you cannot see from the valley floor, but after many false ‘summits’ it finally creeps up on you and I tell you on a beautiful day you wouldn’t feel out of place popping the swimming shorts on and having a wild swim, as indeed many where when we were up there. I however, wasn’t brave enough for any of that.
So, here’s to the next 24 years of visits to this beautiful hidden gem.
1948 was an especially good year. A Welshman by the name of Aneurin Bevan formed the NHS, the future Prince of Wales was born, and The Welsh Folk Museum at St Fagan opens its gates for the first time. But what trumps all of that? Land Rover was born from a sketch drawn on the beach at Red Wharf Bay on Anglesey. With the first model 80in launched at the Amsterdam Motor Show on April 30th, it soon took the world by storm.
Just like that first launch all the way back in 1948 the first Welsh Festival of Land Rovers was an astounding success. The display came together better than we ever imagined it would and combined with the events and facilities that the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society’s Spring Festival has to offer this has the potential to become a future kingpin of Land Rover displays in Wales. The Food Hall and Street Food areas provided ample and varied lunching opportunities and there were of course various excellent bars and restaurants dotted about the showground that stayed open until late in the evening on the Friday and Saturday.
The display had it all (well almost), a 1949 Land Rover right through to a 2018 Evoque and everything in between from an Armoured Personal Carrier, one of only 2 left in existence we’re told, to a home-built 6×6 Defender that’s on the verge of a round the world trip. A dormobile that really is a home from home, a good range of Series vehicles from very early 1’s through to 3’s and many, many more too.
The build up to the event in the week before the show was fast paced and exciting. Making sure everyone had received their tickets and that everyone knew how to get onto the display once they had entered the showground. The ticketing system for exhibitors at the RWAS shows is something to be mastered so making sure everyone knew which ticket they needed and when was paramount. On Saturday morning when the two late arrivals turned up pre-8 before gates closed and bollards were erected, we could finally relax a little happy in the knowledge that everyone had turned up, been put in their respective places and the display was ready to rock and roll.
There was however still the small matter of our grand arena display scheduled for 5:15 on the Saturday. That was a task that SWLRC’s Andy had chosen to take on and what a sterling job he made of it. He spent most of Saturday selecting vehicles and interviewing drivers, he prepared movement plans and organised marshals. The parade lapped the main arena with a sense of pride and Andy proceeded to interview drivers as he worked along the line-up of 18 Land Rovers that were bathed in glorious afternoon sunshine.
At this point I should like to take the opportunity of thanking everyone involved. All the members of the South Wales Land Rover Club for helping on the day and in particular the working group of Andy Kendall, Marc Andrews, Gary Thompson, Angela Forster, Pete Phillips and Dave & Wendy Gibbins for bringing it all together. The exhibitors that turned up to make the display the spectacle it was. The Royal Welsh Society for letting us hold the event and take over a rather large corner of their showground. Likes Land Rover for loaning us the Evoque for the arena parade and of course all those visitors that came to view the vehicles. Massive thanks to you all for without you this would never have come to fruition.
For anyone interested in the next one please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.swlrc.co.uk
Aren’t there enough already I hear you say! Well, maybe not all is as it first appears. Read on………
We are two people with a thirst for travel, adventure and overlanding, oh and Marc is of course a terminal Land Rover fan! Marc and Lisa met two years ago and currently live in South Wales, UK with their young daughter Alys (Aly Lilly to us!) Teulu, their Cocker Spaniel and Marc’s first daughter Caitlin.
We wanted to share our experiences with anyone one who has the time to read our blog, our Instagram, You Tube channel or Facebook Page.
As well as our overlanding travels we will also blog about the Land Rover, 4×4 and Overland shows we visit up and down the UK. The shows probably account for the biggest part of our travels in any one year so keep your eyes peeled for that as there’ll be lots to tell.
By now your probably wondering why One Life Overland. Afterall, there’s plenty of One Life…. accounts about, right? First of all for those of you that don’t know let me tell you a bit about the actual ‘One Life, Live It’ motto. It seems to link back to the Camel Trophy series adventure challenges when Land Rover supplied the vehciles for the expeditions and it just seems to have stuck with Land Rover ever since.
For me however, it’s far more than that. You see back in 2011 Marc had a heart attack (well, a few actually) and afterwards found out that he suffers from a hereditary condition that means his body cannot control cholesterol. Thankfully, all controlled by medication now which I will take for the rest of my life but I’m still here, that’s the main thing. So, that is the reason why I named our account One Life Overland. It’s not just about the link to Land Rovers and Overlanding but more about the reality that we really do only get one shot at life and you really should live it to it’s fulllest. Make the most of everyday and never take anything fro granted. On each of my arms I have a tattoo. On one side its says ‘ONE LIFE. LIVE IT’ and on the other it says ‘CARPE DIEM’. The full sentence in Latin being ‘Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero’. Or roughly translated as ‘Seize the day, don’t put your trust in tomorrow’.
We arrived late due to me over-running in work and immediately upon arrival we remembered our ‘point to note’ from the 2017 show! Do arrive early so you can get on the show side of the camp site. You see whilst the show is one of our faves, the campsite is less than ideal. That is to say it is sort of divided in two by a huge earthen mound. If you happen to find yourself arriving late you will almost certainly end up having to stay on the car park side if the camp site (yes, I said car park, literally!). And from that side you have no view of the show at all until you’ve climbed the earth mound which is vast enough for many campers but than you have a full unbridled view of the rest of the campsite and the fabulous showground being watched over by the equally magnificent British Motor Museum and the Collections Centre. Anyway, it was setup tent, get baby fed and off to land of nod, pour few swift vodkas and with not even time for a fire bed time for us too.
We spent most of the day watching the excellent selection of classic and historic vehicles in the arena. The Classic always manages to pull in such a great selection. On more than one occasion I feel my mind wandering off to our own Welsh Festival of Land Rovers that’s organised for Mid May and I think to myself if we can even muster a fraction of what this show can we’ll have done ourselves proud. At this point I wish I had brought my drone, thinking that I would have got some great aerial shots but the thing I always worry about is falling foul of the law when flying too close to crowds with the minimum being 150 meters away. Too far for any decent shots to show the vehicles off at least.
At the Adventure Overland Show the DJ in his converted Land Rover came by the name of 4×4 Traks, this time it was the turn of Beat n Trak. Great ideas, basically a Land Rover 110 Defender with a raising roof and a set of decks thrown in the back. I also got to meet Nick Enston of Instagram landroverphotoalbum fame no less (www.instagram.com/landroverphotoalbum). Little did we know that we’d soon meet again after that on a trip down a popular Welsh lane with the team form a rather well known Land Rover mag.
Lazy morning followed by another visit to the arena where today’s events looked slightly different to yesterdays. Beat N Track had competition today with the regular trio and the amazing sounds of My Favorite Things, a period group that perfectly suits the show. Last but by now means least what trip to this show would be complete without a visit to the museum and having the opportunity to walk past the iconic 166 HUE. By the way whilst a visit to the museum is a must many of the people I spoke to seem to have missed out the collections centre all together where actually there are some Land Rovers in there that’ll really knock your socks off. Honest, you absolutely must go into both buildings.