Welcome to the UK Tuk-Tuk Challenge! It’s finally happening folks. The finest vehicle known to man has crossed the Himalayas, traversed central and Asia, navigated Europe, swam across the channel and is now here in the United Kingdom. That’s right, there are now tuk-tuk’s living and breathing right here in the UK. Our next job is to stick a bunch of them together and drive them across some of the most beautiful scenery England and Wales has to offer, drink the finest ales in the land all in the company of the most elite drivers this country has ever produced. Obviously the ale drinking and tuk-tuk driving wont be done simultaneously (did we need to mention that??).
See, we love rickshaws and we love adventures. So we thought we’d take our extremely successful rickshaw rally format – in which, you drive around a country as part of a team and complete challenges to accrue points – and apply it right here in the UK. It’ll kick-off from somewhere central, then wind up, down, under and around this incredible little island, before eventually arriving back somewhere else central, like a big, fat, self-drive boomerang. And there it is. The UK Tuk-Tuk Challenge is born. Are we good or what?
The Allbright Hussey hotel
Set in the heart of the beautiful Shropshire countryside with four acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, our grade 2 star listed, classic country house is the only hotel in Shrewsbury to be awarded four AA stars with Two Rosettes. Dating back to circa 1524 and listed in the Domesday book, the hotel encompasses a wealth of history whilst offering the highest standards of comfort, cuisine and service. Our 26 superbly appointed en suite bedrooms are all individually designed and our Moat Room Restaurant has an enviable reputation for some of the finest dining in Shropshire.
A 3 day 300 mile Adventure through mid Wales. Taking in some of the finest driving roads Wales has to offer.
The first Tuk Tuk challengeStarted on the 13th August in Shrewsbury and ended back where it all began In Shrewsbury 3 days later
12 tuktuks set out on route to Abergavenny, via Hayonwye and the Gospel pass.
We all left just befour 10 heading in single file along the private drive out of the hotel. A Smokey grey flare fixed to the top of waste pipe Signaled the start.
I had decided on going around Shrewsbury rather than through it . I personally would have gone right through the middle . But I felt keeping everyone together was more important. There are a few teams in this Adventure who will do more miles over this weekend than they do in a year.
It did work but it’s a hideously busy fast road. We went clock wise . From 5 past the hour till our roundabout at a quarter to. The A 48 to Ludlow .
The first 25 miles was never going to senic or exciting. Our procession of tuks was quite a sight tho . Very special to us all. Everyone looked, smiled or waved. Horns from other road users were sounded not in anger or frustration but in a greeting of hello and welcome.
Fuel tanks were mostly full. Petrol stations are somewhat thin on the ground in rural England and Wales. If you didn’t carry a Jerry can knowing where the next one was or should be is an important tuk policy.
The i couldn’t give a tuk team was misfiring and lacking some power. Tom the TukTukuk mechanic was quickly on the scene to aid assistance with The magic screwdriver .
Ludlow is a really nice little town . We only had an hour to look around. coffee at Daisy’s coffee shop with giddy who was to be behind me and lorraine in his Atul tuk for a lot of this trip. A great guy and now a friend.
From being only responsible for my own actions I was now being asked a variety of questions . What time are we leaving? Where’s the next petrol station?
I had spent many hours researching and recceing this route. The concept of letting owner tuk drivers with a wide range of age and experience is good one. Some want to be lead others are a little more independent.
To get the most out of an Adventure some planning is required. Yes random meetings with strangers or getting lost will sometimes lead to the most spectacular view or conversation. People need to know some information.
After our out stop in Ludow our Waiting point was at the bottom of the hill to continue our journey to Hay on Wye.
. lorraine spoke to lady who runs ludows fringe festival. Next year she wants us all to return to be part of a Bollywood themed event.
From Ludlow the route headed to Hay on wye. The lanes I chose get narrow and twisty , heading south and slightly west. grass was growing in the middle of some of this back roads with 10 foot high beach hedges and damp rutted corners ,if you meet on coming traffic either they or you have to reverse to the nearest passing place.
The procession of tuks was halted by an oncoming tractor. During the reversing ballet a brake master cylinder from Gary and Victoria’s tuk seized on . None of the three little wheels turned. Tom was called from the farmers daughters mobile phone. None of us had a signal.
In the next hour the whole family came out to witness this extraordinary site. Ilya sent up his drone to film it, one guy was so eager to come out he didn’t even bother with his shoes. His socks were in need of a darn too.
We headed down the last tight lane for a while and turned right on th B ….. To Hay.
WHITNEY TOLL BRIDGE
The Toll bridge over the river Wye led us into Hay on Wye.
crossing the Whitney toll bridge.
Video of tuks crossing bridge
HAY ON WYE
At half four we started our assent of the Gospel Pass. The highest road pass in Wales. 7 km of uphill. 16% gradient at its steepest. It’s great climb and the views at the top of Hay Bluff are fantastic on a clear day you can see miles.
The descent to ABERGERVENY is technical. The recent storms had left the road surface wet gritty and slippery. The first 6 km is single track with dozens of blind corners .
The king’s head in ABERGERVENY is right in the centre of town . The road is padestionized till 1630 . We arrived just after 6. Aybo from Nepal has been running the pub with rooms for the last 5 years. His reputation for a curry is almost ledgeindry in these parts.
The social distancing tables outside came to life as one by one the tuks parked up. The beer had been flowing for a while a one perticular table. ….. When I asked what he did for a living he answered , drink beer. Now that’s a job.
Day two see’s us head north west to Aberystwyth via the Abergwesyn pass.
12 tuk tuks in convoy is quite a sight. Its a head turner, people wave , smile and honk there horns . Before we left ABERGERVENY lorraine got into fund raising mode. Shaking her bucket. She has this amazing ability to get folks to part with there cash.
We had a good plan for the day. Rendezvous in llanwrtyd wells at two thirty for the Abergwesyn pass .
Before that the route went via BRECON and LLANDOVERY.
The Welsh venison center or beacons farm shop farm shop lies just before Brecon off the A 40 . They keep up 300 head of deer on there … Acre farm . They also do great coffee. The farm shop is really really nice stocked with fine goods.
Our next stop was at https://www.erwlon.co.uk/
We did a tour of the campsite and collected over £100 for the RosieMay . They really did appreciate the tuks.
We rendezvoused at Llanwrtyd wells the smallest towy in Britain. at 3pm. And headed out in convoy . At Abergwesyn village the first 8 tuks didn’t turn left. Unfortunately this took over an hour for them to get back on track.
The rest of us took the turn and carried on . Having recced the route before I new we could wait further up the valley.
Its not the steepest or highest pass in Wales, compared to Snowdonia it’s forgotten, a few cyclist’s and moterbikes.
The single track road winds through the beautiful open scenery,
Two camper vans were parked in the pull off gravel carpark. but it’s just as beautiful if not better.
The Devil’s Staircase hill climb lies between the village of Abergwesyn and Tregaron in mid-Wales. Crossing the Cambrian Mountains, the Devils Staircase forms part of the much longer Abergwesyn Pass. The full pass is 14 miles long and is a spectacular mix of wilderness, mountains and steep climbs.
After the staircase I had forgotten how much was left too see. Tregaron is still over 8 miles away.
Aberystwyth was our end point for the day. The group was Split into two hotels . The four seasons which sounds 5 star and boutique but imfraid is not. And the premier Inn .
Nobody felt a connection with the town .Alot of the town wasn’t fully open even though it was Saturday night. The grey sandy beaches looked very dull in comparison to the Gower ones a few days earlier.
The sea was dead calm the morning after. We congregated on the sea front in the motorcycle park for a photo. Opposite was a yellow campervan. It looked French , and quirky.
With a 1.9 Audio TDI under the hood it had been fully restored . Both lorraine and I instantly felt a longing to own one. The owners of this one Dave and Lol from The Midlands very kindly showed us .
The Citroën H Van, Type H, H-Type or HY is a panel van (light truck) produced by the French automaker Citroën between 1947 and 1981. It was developed as a simple front wheel driven van after World War II. A total of 473,289 were produced in 34 years in factories in France and Belgium.
The group split today . 4 tuks went north on the original route to Machynlleth and on to Blwch y grows.
After missing out on Devils bridge yesterday
Day three it’s back to Shrewsbury more mountain passes and valleys.