A Cherry Orchard – A Real Boy’s Own Adventure

A Real Boy’s Own Adventure


In the Second World War an English officer, Major Paddy Leigh Fermor, parachuted into Crete to capture the German officer commanding the occupying forces, General Heinrich Kreipe. The mission was a success and the general was marched over the mountains to a waiting British boat and taken back to the Allied HQ in Cairo.

This was real “Boy Own Adventure” stuff and I had read about that daring raid when I was young. Now some friends and I were looking for an excuse to hike a long and interesting route and ideally one with a narrative. So we read again “Ill met by Moonlight” the book about the abduction written by the other British officer involved, Captain Billy Moss.

The year was 2005 and our general idea was to follow the route taken by the captors. I wanted to ask the advice of Paddy who was then aged 90 and living in a house he had designed and built in Greece. It was rather more difficult getting hold of him than I expected. After some fruitless attempts, I contacted his publisher John Murray who suggested I contact Artemis Cooper, Paddy’s biographer, and she kindly gave me his telephone number in Greece. I couldn’t wait to see if he would reply and so I called that night and sure enough, the great man answered straight away. I explained that we were going to follow his footsteps across Crete and he seemed rather pleased and kindly offered to send me his original wartime maps.

Just days later the maps arrived in a plain brown envelope with Greek stamps. His landing place was marked with a small parachute and a boat was drawn on the coast where they departed with General Kreipe. This was enough to spur me on and in no time, I had assembled a group of friends and we flew to Crete. Although we went in the spring the days were hot as we walked across the arid slopes following closely the path taken by Paddy in 1944.

One morning we were deep in the countryside, walking along a rough unmade road when we heard a commotion ahead of us. As we approached we could make out singing in Greek and soon we came to a site where several families had come together to celebrate a religious feast day. They pressed us to join them and soon we had glasses of wine or ouzo thrust upon us. The children were chasing dogs as some men were roasting goats, split in two, and hung up on wooden stakes beside a massive open fire. The meat was going to take another hour or more to cook so we thanked them for their hospitality and walked on.

Later that day we arrived at the Anogia, the largest village in Crete and the scene of a dreadful massacre in August 1944 when, in retaliation for the killing of a German officer, a decree was issued by the German high command that every male in the village, and any male caught within a kilometre of the village, would be killed. In a matter of days, 117 men of the village were murdered and every house in the village was blown up or set on fire. When we walked into the village we paid our respects at the war memorial, listing the names of the dead, and sat in the square to relax and have a drink. We were soon introduced to the mayor of the village who insisted on buying us beers and, in turn, we told him about our walk and how we were inspired by Paddy Leigh Fermor. The mayor became very interested and knew all about Filidem, which was his Greek nickname. It occurred to me that Paddy would love a live update about our progress and in no time I called up Paddy on my mobile phone and, after explaining where we were, I gave the phone to the mayor whose face lit up as he realised he was talking to the man himself.

So our days continued, walking in the heat and in the afternoon looking for a place to spend the night. One particular day the four of us came across a high wire fence, built to keep goats out. It ran as far as the eye could see in both directions and was about six foot high. Surprisingly our small party had split up and I soon found that the others had somehow crossed it to the far side. But I could find no way over it or around it and the more I ran around trying the hotter and crosser I became. Finally, I saw a small gap at a post and, pulling the wire away, I managed to squeeze through. By now I was hot, sweaty and very fed up. I had no idea where the others were. So I walked on and came to a grove of cherry trees. There was a rusty pickup truck and its two occupants were up makeshift ladders collecting cherries. They had some black umbrellas upside down, hanging from the branches by the handle. Into these, they were lobbing ripe cherries. They asked me to help myself and so I lay down in the shade of a tree and dropped cool cherries into my mouth until my temper and temperature cooled down. Those were the juiciest and tastiest cherries in the whole world and I have never forgotten their flavour.


(Editor’s footnote)

“Ill met by Moonlight” is a quotation from “A Midsummer  Night’s Dream. When the book was  published in 1950, it was selected by W. Somerset Maugham as one of the best three books of that year writing,”more thrilling than any detective story I can remember, and written in a modest and most engaging manner”.




The Story Of A Steak Sandwich

The Story Of A Steak Sandwich

It had been another long hot day in central Africa, and I was driving a fast RIB – a rigid inflatable boat – down the river Congo at full speed. We were flying across the water, but I was steering carefully between the floating clumps of water hyacinth as we headed downstream to the capital city of Kinshasa.

We had started early, and I had loaded extra cans of petrol on board as it was a long push from our campsite at the side of the river to reach Kinshasa, but the leader of our expedition needed to be there as soon as possible. There were three of us in the small boat and the floor was literally covered in petrol cans. The cool of the morning soon warmed by the inevitable sun and by mid-morning it was baking hot. The metal petrol cans were too hot to touch, but thankfully the Mercury outboard was pushing us along at about 30 knots, so the rushing air was keeping us reasonably cool.

The first few hours saw us speeding along the calm river. Waves or rapids would have slowed us down but here the river was running deep and the surface was flat. The banks here were jungle and the trees really came down into the water, I am not sure if they were all mangrove trees but there are three types of mangrove and we probably passed them all. It was the same on both sides of the river which in this area was a couple of hundred metres wide. We were making good time.

We drank from our water bottles as we didn’t really have time to stop and make a brew of tea. It would have taken too long to gather the wood to make the fire to boil the water. The problem with our water is that it came from the river and it was best to strain it in a muslin filter to take out the animal and vegetable matter that was present. There were about 20 grains of foreign matter in each litre of water. So we strained the water and then put it in our water bottles along with chlorination tablets to purify it and kill any germs. The good news was that the water was now palatable, but the bad news was that it was like drinking disinfectant. But we needed to drink in that heat to stay well.

Our eyes were always sweeping ahead, partly to avoid hitting an object in the river and partly to see if we could catch sight of any wildlife on the banks such as hippos or monkeys in the trees. At the same time, we would look for landmarks to try and pinpoint our position. About the time we felt we were nearing the city we began to see some high-rise buildings poking out on the horizon above the great moabi, iroko, ebony and mahogany trees that formed the jungle canopy.

After another thirty minutes, we came upon the long dirty brown wharves where wood, palm oil and vegetables were unloaded from the river barges. Then further on we saw the manicured bright green lawns of what turned out to be a smart yacht club, with many small and larger boats bobbing on their moorings. Above the lawns was a single storey clubhouse neatly painted and with bright flags flying from an impressively tall flagpole. This seemed to be a sensible place to tie up and find a vehicle to take us into the city and to the British Embassy who were expecting us.

It was about midday and we had been on the river for over four hours and I was starving. Breakfast had been a rotten plastic mug of tea and some dried biscuits and I was looking forward to grabbing a bite to eat wherever we could. Having secured the boat, we walked up to the Clubhouse and were rather conscious of our scruffy appearance in soiled and sweaty shirts and petrol stained cotton trousers below which were wet boots dripping with river water. We must have looked an odd and unusual sight to the kindly barman who stood on the veranda as we approached. He was a Congolese man of about forty who spoke fluent French and was dressed in smart dark trousers with a white jacket, white shirt and bow tie. I briefly explained who we were in my stumbling French as he ushered us through the doors of Kinshasa Yacht Club into the bar area. Coming in from the strong sunlight my eyes adjusted to take in the fine carpet and comfortable looking armchairs around us but more exciting was the bar promising cold drinks and possibly food? I asked, with some trepidation, if there was anything we could eat for lunch to which I heard the immortal reply “Would sir like a steak sandwich?”. As the barman called the order to the chef in the adjacent kitchen, he poured the first chilled larger into a frosted glass and I was at the gates of heaven. The succulent steak sandwich soon arrived – a tender piece of sirloin steak in a fresh baguette. It was delicious and how hard it was to eat slowly. In no time at all the glass was dry and the taxi was waiting to take us to the Embassy – the spell was broken.

Kindly contributed by a Wenvoe resident



Tanzania Expedition – Jacob Morgan

Tanzania Expedition – Jacob Morgan

I just wanted to say a massive thank you to everyone in the village who supported me in fundraising for Tanzania. I will be leaving very soon, on February 10th, for my 10 week expedition and I am very excited.

The picture below is of me at the top of Pen Y Fan, after completing it 5 times in one day back in November.

This fundraiser along with the quiz and raffle night held at the pub received huge support from so many of you, and I am very grateful. I am extremely proud to be able to say that the fundraising target of £3,450 for Raleigh International was reached, which is truly amazing. A total of £1,265 of that was raised by you, the generous people of Wenvoe.

So once again I would like to thank all of you for the lovely messages and support I received. It really means a lot to me. I look forward to telling you all about my trip when I am back in the summer.



A Visit to Puy Du Fou


A Visit to Puy Du Fou

by Sylvia Harvey

Puy Du Fou is an historical theme park near Nantes in France welcoming over 2.3 million visitors every year.

Throughout the summer on Friday and Saturday nights is La Cinescenie – this is the most amazing spectacle. It is a large theatrical performance held on one of the world’s largest stages. It involves 2,500 actors, alongside 190 horses. There are 80 technicians and it brings together 4,000 volunteers.

It is a beautiful pageant telling a story set in the Vendee region. As each scene unfolds, it just takes your breath away. With the constant action, the lighting, the pyrotechnics, it’s almost impossible to describe.

There are a number of other shows on during the day. Two special ones for me were:

Le Signe du Triomphe: A Gallo-Roman stadium performance in which the 7,000 spectators are divided into Romans and Gauls to watch Gaulish prisoners trying to win circus games in front of the Roman governor. The atmosphere is electric; clapping, cheering, booing, chariots thunder around the arena as lions and tigers prowl among the contestants. WOW!

Les Bal des Oiseaux Fantomes: Another breath-taking experience as 330 eagles, falcons and vultures swoop over the audience, with their wings brushing our heads.

I could write so much more but I am hoping others may have visited Puy du Fou and will share their experience..



Y Taith Pererin Llyn

Y Taith Pererin Llyn


It’s a long way from Wenvoe to North Wales, and a frustrating journey if you are in a hurry, but if you have plenty of time, and the weather is good, it is a lovely drive. Such was it one very cold autumn morning, with a hard frost that had whitened the hillsides, and the sun lighting up the autumn colours, showing mid-Wales in all its glory.

The North Wales Pilgrims’ Way (Taith Pererin) is a 134 miles long-distance path, starting in Holywell and finishing at the monastery of St Cadfan on the island of Bardsey. It had some significance in medieval times, and two pilgrimages to Bardsey were considered as good as one to Rome. The section on the Llŷn follows the ancient pilgrims’ route, and that was our goal.

We started at Clynnog, where there is a huge church dedicated to St Beuno in a tiny village, and a spring or well nearby. People with epilepsy were brought to the well and immersed in it, and then had to spend the night on the cold floor of the church. If they were in fit condition the following morning, they then continued along the coast to Aberdaron, and thence by boat to Bardsey.

We inspected the well, but decided to omit the immersion, on the grounds that we were still quite healthy. We walked from Clynnog to Trefor, hoping to get a cup of good coffee, but this was a bit optimistic, so we had to make do with a machine coffee from a Spar shop. We continued over the mountain of Yr Eifl, which had been a centre for quarrying in the days when granite was highly valued. We walked up an old incline, which would have been used to bring the stone down from the quarries, and had a marvellous view of the Llŷn coast, and across the sea to Anglesey. We then came down to the settlement of Nant Gwrtheyrn, which is an isolated community consisting of three farms and the quarrymen’s cottages. The farms are now deserted, but the cottages have been converted into modern accommodation for the Welsh Language Centre, where people can stay during language courses, or they are rented out for bed and breakfast.

It was a beautiful evening, and we watched the sun setting over the sea. The Nant is a remarkable place, and one of the most peaceful places I have ever been to. I shall have to return one day.

Next day we continued along the coast, pausing at the Tŷ Coch Inn at Porth Dinllaen, well known for its location right on the beach. In fact, there was a long queue for lunch, so we had a pint and walked out to the Coast Watch lookout and chatted to the lady volunteers there, who were keeping a watchful eye on the sea, but who seemed to welcome some company. Further on, there were seals relaxing on

the rocks, and one in the water who looked at us suspiciously and disappeared, only to reappear much closer to us, in order to have a better look.

We stayed that night in the Lion at Tudweiliog, a very comfortable pub with excellent food. Next day we walked a long day along the cliffs, and chatted to a woman going in for a swim. She claimed it was fine once you were in the sea, but we decided to take her word for it. We passed the Whistling Sands, where the sand really does whistle when you shuffle your feet in it, and continued to Aberdaron, having to cheat a bit towards the end and take a short cut, because the light was going fast. The cliff path is no place to be in the dark.

We stayed in a small hotel in Aberdaron, with a marvellous view over the beach, and asked the ferryman if we could go to Bardsey the next day, but unfortunately the weather broke that evening after three perfect days, and the sea was so rough next day that we had no wish to be in a small boat at all. It was a disappointment not to be able to complete our pilgrimage, but this was a superb walk, about 40 miles in two and a half days, and we have good reason to go back one day.




Gap Year Expedition With Raleigh International

My Name Is Jacob Morgan

Dear Wenvoe Residents; my name is Jacob Morgan. You may know me from the Wenvoe Arms where I have worked for the past few years or seen me around the village walking the dog. I’ve lived in Wenvoe for the past fifteen years, moving here at the age of three with my parents and younger sister ready to enjoy playgroup and later start school at Wenvoe Primary. Now I’m eighteen years old and have finished compulsory education. Whilst most of my peers are starting their further education at university, I have decided to take a gap year to hopefully gain some experience in order to help me decide on what career I would like to pursue.

One thing I’ve decided to take part in during this year is a 10-week expedition in Tanzania. I’m doing this with other young people aged 17-24 from all around the world through a charity called Raleigh International. They strive to create lasting change in areas of the world less fortunate than ours. The expedition will consist of three parts, ‘Community’, ‘Environment’, and ‘Adventure’. We spend about 3 weeks on each project, the first being community in which the main aim will be to improve the safety of water, as well as sanitation and hygiene knowledge for locals in Tanzania. We will work with local schools, educating the pupils on these topics and helping to build sanitation facilities for them; overall improving the health of the community. The second project is environment. During this project the focus will be in forest management. We will work collaboratively with the local farmers and workers to develop forest management plans and raise awareness on the importance of these forests and plants, aiming to create a more sustainable and healthier environment. The final part of the expedition is adventure, which will consist of trekking through the Morogoro region or Southern Highlands of Tanzania. We will pass through small communities and see wildlife such as Lions, Zebras and Elephants along the way. After a day of hiking we will set up camp and sleep under amazing night skies unaffected by light pollution. During this section of the expedition my leadership and teamworking skills will develop and improve, which is brilliant for any workplace I could potentially end up in.

As a part of the experience I will need to fundraise money to pay for my flights, accommodation, and food whilest out there, but also a little extra to donate to the charity, so that more of a difference can be made throughout all the areas in which Raleigh International offer voluntary work. It will allow more projects such as the one I am taking part in to continue, helping to create more positive change all around the world.

I have several ideas for fundraising. Firstly, I am going to climb Pen Y Fan a total of 5 times in one day as a sponsored event. I am looking to do this around the end of November, most probably on a Saturday or Sunday so that my family can come with me (therefore the 23rd/24th/30th Nov). I am looking to organise a raffle, quiz night or race night in the Wenvoe Arms as this would not only be a great fundraiser but also a fun and enjoyable night for the village and the locals who would attend. I aim to arrange one or two in the run up to Christmas. I will have a meeting with Jenny and Digby to see which night of the week they think is best

to hold these events and further details will be posted around the village or on the Wenvoe Arms twitter page. Finally I have set up a ‘Just Giving’ page on the internet – www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jacob-morgan where any donations can be made. Any help in fundraising for Raleigh International or for my expedition in Tanzania would be greatly appreciated.

I will keep you updated on progress and plan to write an article on my return to tell you all about my adventures and experiences. If you’d like to know more or share any ideas for fundraising with me pop into the pub!



Meet the Author – ‘Motorway Madness’

‘Meet The Author’ Evening In The Wenvoe Arms. 

‘Motorway Madness’

Our thanks to Ian Pate and The Friends of Wenvoe Library for organising another excellent ‘Meet the Author’ evening in the Wenvoe Arms. The topic ‘Motorway Madness’ might not have initially sparked your interest, but through photographs, expert knowledge and an array of personal anecdotes, Ian ensured that we had an evening which was both sobering and entertaining.

With a twenty-five year career in sales, which required extensive travelling in the UK, Ireland and the Benelux countries, Ian thought he knew everything there was to know about driving on motorways. However, it was not until he started working as a Traffic Officer in 2008, that he learnt about the unpredictability of our motorways. In this role, with powers to stop and direct traffic and work under the authority of a police officer, he began to appreciate the phrase ‘expect the unexpected’.

Statistically, the motorway is the UK’s safest road. Drivers know that if something happens whilst driving on the motorway they should move onto the hard shoulder, put their hazard lights on, get out of the car if possible and get to a place of safety. The last of these is important because the most dangerous place on the motorway is the hard shoulder. A safe place Ian reminds us is ‘behind the barrier, up on the embankment, under signs, by bridges or even on a police observation post’. If you stay in your car, your life expectancy according to police statistics is 30 minutes. The message is ‘When it is safe to do so – get out, keep safe, stay alive!’ At night, this risk increases. There have been cases in which lorry drivers at night have put their inside wheels onto the rumble strip that separates the hard shoulder from lane one, to keep them alert whilst watching TV!

As a Traffic Officer, Ian was involved in a wide range of incidents. Twenty five percent of all breakdowns attended on the motorway are simply because drivers have run out of fuel. Some drivers get into trouble when transporting goods like a mattress or even a complete bed from IKEA on the roof of their car without the legally required roof rack and safety harnessing! Getting animals to safety – horses, swans and at one time a small herd of water buffalo in Newbury – were all in a day’s work. Drunk drivers, unwell drivers, car fires and extreme weather all require assistance from the Traffic Officers. These people ensure that you and I are safe if an incident does occur. Ian and his colleagues set up rolling roadblocks, clear dangerous debris from motorways and are the people on the ground responding to alerts from the Traffic Management Centres across the country.

Ian concluded his talk with a look at new smart motorways where all lanes are running. On the first smart motorway on the M42 in the West Midlands, there is no hard shoulder and a refuge area every 500 metres. Above every lane there are signs to note variable speed and clear messages e.g. lanes closing. Any difficulties drivers encounter, are immediately picked up by the control centre and a lane can be automatically closed. The M4 between J3 and J12 is currently being upgraded to a smart motorway. However, the model has undergone modifications. Refuge areas are now1.6 miles apart and overly detailed signs on the left hand side of the motorway, have replaced the clear signs above each lane. It can take up to one hour for an ambulance to get to an incident. Inevitably, such concerns have led road safety campaigners to lobby Parliament and they are now working with an all-party group of MPs to look at the safety concerns relating to the rollout of smart motorways.

The Friends of Wenvoe Library would like to thank Ian for his support in helping to raise funds for Wenvoe Library. Please look out for the next ‘Meet the Author’ evening – we would love to see you there.




Llandow Air Disaster 12 March 1950



In the years after WWII there was a surge in demand for air travel. This was largely met with aircraft that had been sold off as surplus to requirements.

People began to realise that travel by aeroplane was something available to everyone, not just the rich.

A Cardiff entrepreneur chartered an aeroplane to fly from Landow airfield to Dublin for £10. Llandow was not a commercial airfield, though still operating for military use.

The Welsh team was on the brink of its first Triple Crown for nearly 20 years. Victories over England and Scotland set up a deciding match with Ireland. Thousands of supporters made the trip

The Saturday flight to Dublin on Saturday 11th was uneventful.  Wales won 6-3. Great! The boys celebrated until late.

Friends and families waiting to welcome fans home spotted the aircraft in the west. As the aircraft approached it seemed to be flying too low. Then with its undercarriage down the engines suddenly boosted causing the aircraft to stall and drop to the ground. 80 died with 3 survivors.

After a court of enquiry the Ministry of Civil Aviation announced that the probable cause of the accident was the luggage loading of the aircraft, which had moved the centre of gravity.

Whether or not luggage contributed to the crash, the weighing of luggage to this day stems from the crash. Rhoose Airport was created later, with a memorial stone in Sigginstone.

The death of the last survivor of 3 was reported in WalesOnline, May 2011.


(A memorial plaque is erected in Siginstone on the road side near Park Farm, the site of the crash.)



The Trip of a Lifetime? The Galapagos


Inspired by David Attenborough’s 3 part documentary, and the tales of friends who visited 15 years ago, we decided our retirement present would be a trip to the Islands of Tortoises, better known as the Galapagos Islands. Situated in the Pacific Ocean, some 600 miles off the west coast of Ecuador, the Galapagos were, of course, made famous by Charles Darwin who, having visited them, came up with his theory of evolution, “The Origin of the Species”.

AlbatrossWe flew to Quito which is situated in the foothills of the Andes. At 9,500 feet, it is the second highest capital in the world (for quiz buffs – La Paz, Bolivia is the highest). The city was founded in the 16th century on the ruins of an Inca city. It has the best preserved, least altered historic centre in Latin America and has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The Spanish colonial buildings dating back some 500 years are impressive but it’s the interior of the Jesuit cathedral of La Compania that sticks in the mind for its gold leaf work, gilded plaster and wood carvings.

It’s just over a 2 hour flight from Quito to the Galapagos Islands and from there we took a short bus and boat ride to our cruise ship which became our home for the next 7 nights.

All 19 islands of the Galapagos are there as a result of repeated volcanic activity – they simply rose up from the seabed. This, and their isolation from the mainland, begs the question as to how they have come to be inhabited by such a variety of plants, animals and birds, some of which are found nowhere else in the world. The theory is that their ancestors were somehow brought here by the sea currents; the islands being located at the confluence of 3 ocean currents. The same theory goes for the birds – though substitute air currents for sea.

In order to survive the inhospitable volcanic terrain the animals and birds learnt to adapt; those that didn’t, so the theory goes, died. Some of the iguanas learnt to swim and forage in the sea for food; the marine iguanas can now drink seawater and snort the excess salt out through their nostrils. The cormorants found that they didn’t need their wings and these shortened over time so that the birds are now flightless. In order to survive the heat the penguins became shorter. And the famous Darwin finches? Well, over time the size and shape of their beaks changed on the different islands, in order toaccess the different types of food available to them.

The isolation of the islands and so few predators means that the wildlife have little fear of humans. Talk about getting up close and personal. We were told to keep at least 8 feet away from the animals – the problem was that no-one tells them that. And sea-lion pups are very inquisitive and very cute; and so your head tells you to back away as they come up to you whilst your heart says other things. I could certainly see from their lack of fear how the dodo came to be extinct in Mauritius. The giant tortoise was lucky not to have suffered a similar fate. Pirates and whalers came to the Galapagos from the 18th century and the tortoises provided them with an easy supply of fresh meat. The guide told us that they were taken back to the ships alive and then stacked upside down for ease of storage. In that cruel state they could survive for up to a year!

Ecuador appreciates the uniqueness of its islands and has got its act together on the ecotourism front. Fifteen of the 19 islands are uninhabited and form the Galapagos National Park, which, in 1979, became the first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Around 30,000 people live on the islands and some 2000,000 tourists visit each year. Tourism is strictly regulated. We went everywhere with guides who were born in the Galapagos, had been educated to university standard and really knew their stuff. They were very friendly and so obviously enjoyed sharing their knowledge of the islands with us. Having said that anyone who strayed off the path or lagged behind to take that extra photograph, my husband included, was suitably chastised!Tortoise

We saw so many wonderful things. The highlights for me on land were spotting our first blue footed booby and seeing an albatross nesting with its egg. In the ocean it was snorkelling with sea turtles and watching a marine iguana feed off the seabed. The sea was beautifully clear but freezing, even with a wetsuit. With minimum light pollution the night sky was also something special. We stared open-mouthed up at a very bright and sparkling Milky Way.

Well – was it a trip of a lifetime? Only time will tell of course …. but it will take some beating. Our next trip? Well that’s slightly closer to home. We’re off to beautiful West Wales – fingers crossed on the weather front and spotting a dolphin.

Cycling In Wales

Cycling has hit the headlines in the last weeks because of the fantastic success of the GB cycling team in the Olympics in Rio. With Welsh wizards like Geraint Thomas, Becky James, Owain Doull and Elinor Barker cycling in Wales is gaining a very high profile. Watching the Olympics on television has been exciting and dramatic and it will probably result in an upsurge of interest in cycling in the months to come.

Cycling has long been popular in South Wales as there are many miles of very suitable roads as well as off-road routes which often run along disused rail lines such as parts of the Taff Trail from Cardiff to Merthyr Tydfil. In Wales generally and whether you are an experienced cyclist, a family with children, or thinking about becoming a cycle commuter, the National Cycle Network offers many opportunities for travel, and discovery. There are over 1,200 miles of National Cycle Network in Wales alone, which carry 29 million cycling trips a year. Whatever your age or fitness, getting out on the Network is a great way to keep healthy, save money, and – most importantly – have fun! The National Cycle Network (NCN) is the national cycling route network of the United Kingdom, which was established to encourage cycling throughout Britain, as well as for the purposes of bicycle touring. It was created by the charity Sustrans who were aided by a £42.5 million National Lottery grant. The 14,000 mile network has recorded over 230 million trips a year. The Sustrans website is www.sustrans.org.uk

Road cycling and racing is particularly popular and here in Wenvoe we are fortunate to have the Wenvoe Wheelers. The Wenvoe Wheelers were established earlier this year and the Club has answered the need for a riding club for people living in the Eastern end of the Vale as well as the West end of Cardiff. It was developed from an idea by 4 friends riding in Mallorca in early April 2016. Wenvoe Wheelers now has approximately 60 regular riding members who ride out from Wenvoe every Tuesday evening and Saturday morning. In addition they run rides on Sunday's which go further. They are a very mixed bunch in terms of experience and offer beginner rides once a month, and have an intermediate pace ride and steady paced rides. Wenvoe Wheelers now have their own distinct cycling kit now supplied by Pactimo. The Club has an equal number of men and women so this shows that the group is open to all and they are always happy to take in new or experienced riders. For further information please contact: Rob Harrison the social and membership secretary by email wenvoewheelers@gmail.com

Wenvoe Wheelers recommend Gerard Davies for servicing and parts, he runs Stone House Bikes in Barry. To buy a bike the following shops in Cardiff are recommended Cyclopaedia, Tredz and Sunset Cycles. Halfords is also good for Cycle to Work schemes, and many independent bike shops now accept Halfords Cycle to Work vouchers so the customer has a massive choice of makes and types of bikes. When it comes to refreshment Wenvoe Wheelers use the following coffee stops in the Vale – Cafe Velo in Llantwit, The Pottery Cafe in Ewenny, Hilary and Iain by sea in Ogmore, cafe Nero in Cowbridge and Porthkerry park cafe.

Riders who like to really get off road can take advantage of the excellent Mountain Bike Centres in Wales. These provide exhilarating trails and stunning scenery, and with easy access they have made Mountain Biking in Wales one of the best adventure sports available in the country. Many of the trails start at a Mountain Biking Centre; a purpose built centre is a dedicated single site Mountain Biking location, with a visitor centre and MTB facilities serving multiple way marked trails of varying difficulty. Here in South Wales we have mountain bike centres at Cwmcarn, Afan Forest Park and Bike Park Wales at Abercanaid near Merthyr Tydfil.

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