Looking across to the snow capped alpine mountains seen from the back seat of a motorcycle

Home Travel StoriesMontgomery? How Splendid.

A Long Ride In The Sun

Ride Date 19 March 2022

By Ren Withnell

This, this is becoming a habit. I know what the problem is, the problem is Sharon. She is working full time and is, relative to her previous predicament, rich. Let me clarify this - if you're barely paying the bills and have a lot of month left at the end of the money - then you move to paying the bills and making it to the end of the month with a few quid spare - then you feel rich. She's not exactly splashing out on sports cars and gold plated taps, but she has decorated the kitchen and bought a nice dress. That kind of rich.

Sharon's kitchen is small but looking great after her recent makeover
Amazing what you can do with sticky-back-plastic and elbow grease.

Fear not dear reader. With the end of Covid restrictions Sharon's term as one of the "normally waged" is coming to an end. There are murmurings of other roles and options but unless something good happens soon she'll be back to part time and back to stony broke. And this time it'll be worse - it's called inflation.

It's a concern, but then a certain Russian might get all nuclear so we might as well enjoy ourselves while the going is good and Sharon is still feeling wealthy. As such she's booked us in to a hotel in Montgomery.

Say what? Montgomery? Ain't that the British General of World War 2 fame? I can't imagine he or his family will be at all pleased to hear he now has a hotel inside him. Ah, no, wait, I see. There's a village called Montgomery in the Welsh Marches, I figure that's where his name comes from. Marches? Wiki tells me this means "border region", derived from the word margin. It's an edumificayshun I tell ya.

Map showing the small town of montgomery circled
See! It's real and its on the border too.

Life gets even creepier. The forecast ain't just good, it's great. We are officially in The Twiglet Zone now.

And so it is we find ourselves at Sharon's abode on a Saturday morning. There's barely a cloud in the sky although I note the air is chill. This being but one night away and indoors there's little luggage to pack, or so I think. Sharon, having space, must fill it. We have clothing aplenty for both an arctic expedition and the Ambassador's ball. 

This weekend is essentially the first "good" weekend since the end of restrictions AND this winter. As such the whole world along with their respective partners, family and friends, is heading to the Welsh coast. The M56 is struggling and the A55 is crawling along. Inside I feel a whiff of frustration that I soon dismiss. I'm on my bike in the sunshine, I have a weekend free and it is wonderful to see the sun. We crawl along with the traffic.

As soon as we depart the A55 heading for Denbigh the traffic eases muchly. In Denbigh I spy a fuel station. It seems as soon as the Covid restrictions eased a certain Russian decided diplomacy was out and the horrors of war were in. I must, I MUST remind myself that the cost I'm enduring at the pump is still not as bad as residing in Mariupol. £1.69.9 per litre, ooooof.

I take the A543 once again, as I recall how lovely it was 6 weeks ago. It is indeed lovely, and yet in the sunshine and clear skies of today it feels far less dramatic. Our pace is sufficient to be moving well while allowing us time to take in the scenery. The Snowdonian mountains in the hazy distance remind me of dragon's teeth. Is this why the Welsh symbol is a dragon?

Clear blue skies, the road and in the far distance the jagged tips of the Snowdonian mountains
Lovely and beautiful, though not as dramatic.

A Texaco garage in the Welsh countryside will be expensive, they always are. Yet here, 8 miles north-east of Bala it is - ahem - £1.59.9. WHY!?!? No, don't get me started this missive is already long enough. Sharon and I drink tea in the cafe next door. This place, according to Google Maps is "Route 66" but the sign states "Yum Yums" so something's amiss. If you want to find it search for Texaco Thomas Motor Mart Petrol Station.

I, errr. Errrrm. I think I've messed up. It's already 1400 and I was hoping to be at the hotel by 1500 or so, to allow us time to explore the town on foot and before nightfall. Thing is we're still an hour and a half away according to Google which in real time means around 2 hours. Hmmmm. Best crack on.

The rest of our route is main roads, A5 and A483. I've only entered "Montgomery" into the sat-nav as the town is tiny and finding the hotel will be no problem at all. Ah, errr, I've messed up again. While definitely not a sprawling metropolis it is sufficiently large enough for me to stop and require I actually enter the correct postcode.

The Dragon Hotel is old. Old, quirky, higgledy-piggledy, interesting and characterful. Definitely not a Travelodge then. Our room is small but we expected this, we have booked a "small room" after all. There is an annoying intermittent pump noise, the bedroom booklet warns us this old building has plumbing issues which are being worked on. Hmmmm.

Timber framed effect building that is the Dragon Hotel in Motgomery
Well it looks old?
The bedroom is small but sufficient and comfortable
Small, but fine for our minimal needs.

Mongomery is a lot steeper than I expected, steep as in hills. The castle is in ruins due to Oliver Cromwell's lot not wishing it to be used by random royalists. The views from the remains are impressive. The town itself is eclectic with buildings from all eras back to the 1600s and most of the modern buildings are at least sympathetic if not quite lovely. Even on a Saturday evening it is pleasantly peaceful, we meet the occasional locals on foot all of whom are friendly, chatty even.

The ruins of the castle allow us to see the floorplan and size of the one large fortification
Didn't 'arf make a mess Cromwell's chaps.
From the high castle we look over arable farmland and the town, more hills in the distance
You could see the enemy coming from hours away. 
The ironmonger's shop sells almost everything, including petrol and diesel from the old pumps outside
That really is a petrol pump. One of those amazing shops only found in a small town nowadays.

We have an evening meal booked for 1900 in the hotel. Sharon insists I put on my smart clothes as she transforms from biker lady to posh lady. We sit in the restaurant at 1900, our order is taken at 1920 but our food doesn't arrive until 2030. Grrrr. The food is worth waiting for though, delicious. 

We then take a dip in the pool! Oh yes, it's because we is posh innit. We're not in long as we're running late due to tea being late. Oh well, what can you do? We enjoy our splash, take a shower and depart for bed. We settle in for the night. That pump noise continues and I have a concern it might get annoying. Luckily it stops before it's time to nod off. 

Advertise here - contact ren@bikesandtravels.com

A Long Ride In The Sun In yet another twist of fate Madame Moisture and that grumpy git are enjoying themselves, again! Montgomery is chosen destination.
Up Too Early Montgomery has a lovely sunrise that Ren would rather not have seen, oh well.

Reader's Comments

Upt'North ¹ said :-
Old, quirky, higgledy-piggledy, interesting and characterful with plumbing issues.
A very good description of your good self Ed.
25/03/2022 17:04:47 UTC
Bogger said :-
OMG You turn up on the Tour a shed and there's all those Volvo's and Range Rovers in the car park LOL. I bet they were happy to see you. At least you made an effort for dinner.

Nice write up as always. Keep up the good work.

25/03/2022 20:50:52 UTC
ROD¹ said :-
A lovely area Ren.
Did you take in the Long Mynd on the way back?
26/03/2022 07:42:06 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Thanks Upt'. I think. Regarding the plumbing issues it's just an age thing. It happens to us all you know.

Bogger - Interestingly I know a lot of bikers will have a tale about pubs/restaurants/campsites/hotels etc that have reject them merely for "being a biker". This has only happened to me once and that was over 30 years back - my point is over many years and miles I've found very very few negative vibes towards me as a "biker" or "motorcyclist". Most are either curious or ignore me as one of the crowd.

By the way, dinner is in the middle of the day, we made an effort for tea. Pffffft, we're not daaan saaaf 'ere tha knows. Thy's geetin too posh in that there countryside village.

No, no we didn't ROD, and I didn't realise how close we were to Long Mynd either! We did take a different route that proved quite splendid, you'll have to wait for the next exciting, thrilling and tantalising instalment!

26/03/2022 07:59:34 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
There's a super single track road that goes up the Long Mynd from Church Stretton. Going up is not too bad except when somebody in a huge car forces you into the bank - but coming down does feel very exposed to the drop. There used to be a nice campsite of the western flank.

Many many years ago Electra & I were returning from Scotland on the Norton Domi 99. Lovely bike which was later stoledn from me. Anyway it was pouring with rain so we stopped near Dalkeith to try to get a coffee. Went in a little tearoom only to be ejected rapidly by a furious mine hostess. She didn't want "our sort". The pub over the road was much more welcoming.

You used to see signs saying "bikers not served" in pubs. I had an idea to go into one in civvies, order a tray full of expensive mixed drinks then have a co-conspirator rush in and tell me about the sign. At which point I would of course have to tell the landlord I was in fact one of those bikers so of course would have to leave - not paying for the drinks..... I have to say I haven't seen one of those signs for a while however. Maybe becuase I haven't been in a pub.
26/03/2022 10:53:07 UTC
Bogger said :-
Dear Ed, please be informed of the correct nomenclature for the partaking of food and beverages throughout the day.

Firstly one has breakfast, followed by elevenses. Then it's on to luncheon and then either afternoon tea, or possibly a little later, high tea. We then have dinner followed by supper.

Hence why I am, err, big boned

28/03/2022 08:13:12 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
There's brekkie, dinner and tea. Other than that there's a snack and if you've been a good boy you might get supper before bedtime. You've become somewhat pretentious Bogger with your upper class ways.
29/03/2022 23:05:10 UTC
CrazyFrog said :-
Back in the 70's and 80's it was not at all uncommon to see no bikers signs outside pubs, cafés and campsites. Happily this is rarely the case now, possibly because discrimination of any kind is frowned upon now, or possibly because the average age of bikers is now 50+ or maybe a combination of both.

The marches is one of my favourite areas. Montgomery is delightful, Bishops Castle just down the road is lovely too as is Clun and the road down the Clun valley.
30/03/2022 08:43:42 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I started riding in November '89 so I missed most of the "no bikers" signs. There was one over the door of a country pub on the outskirts of Bolton and in York one static caravan site wouldn't let us visit our friends who were already in a static onsite.

I figure our money is much the same as anyone else's and as such motorcyclists are viewed the same as anyone else willing to throw cash (nowadays a card) at them. I do agree with the average age of a rider rapidly increasing it's less likely they're likely to start throwing tables and chairs around. Lets face it, most of us would put our back out trying to lift the table...

Yes, I agree the area is perfectly pleasant.
30/03/2022 09:51:02 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
There was a short period when Brittany Ferries wouldn't take bookings for bikes over 4 years old (IIRC) as they "were used by hells angels and the like". It didn't take long for them to change their minds as people (like me) cancelled bookings.....
30/03/2022 10:55:14 UTC

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