Bentleys and Black Mountains


Driving in the UK is a stressful task. Each time a massive transport truck scrapes by us, my bones rattle. The air in the car gets sucked out. My heart stops. Welcome to Wales! Driving here is easy if you accept the fact that death is around each blind one-lane-two-way turn.

Driving aside… Wales is magnificent…

The Black Mountains in Breckon Beackon National Park are today’s challenge (other than driving there). Hiking up to the mountains from town is not very intuitive. Though the Sugarloaf Mountain rises up behind farmhouses and large estates, many of the lane ways are private. It is a game of chance that you will end up on the public footpath leading to the summit. This is how, by chance, I met “Lady Ashley”.

I once read that sometimes on your way to finding something good, you get lost and end up finding something great. Her baby blue convertible Bentley pulls around the bend. She is the picture of aristocracy. She offers me a lift to the correct path that will lead to the mountain… but, we must make one necessary stop first. She takes several harrowing turns down the gravel pathways. She recommends that, “One should take a glass of wine on a hot day before climbing Sugarloaf.”

What? Who put this vineyard here? How civil. This series of events seems god-sent. I certainly couldn’t even begin to imagine attempting to climb a mountain on an empty bladder. And, I think I’ve achieved my street-cred rolling up in a Bentley.

It was a particularly good growing season this year. We sample a flight of whites, choose our favourite and sit back and negotiate settling into this spot for the day. But, after spending a glamorous afternoon on the vineyard, it’s time to get out and work the hills. The sprints are a sobering challenge. But, as always, the view from the top is the reward.

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