It's not often these days that I go out driving for pleasure. My everyday driving is usually just about getting from A to B, often on boring roads (motorways!) or with the dogs in the car. So leaving the Welsh Hill Rally early thanks to a slipping clutch gave me a precious gift - time to enjoy a long drive back to Yorkshire along scenic routes through the stunning countryside in glorious sunshine.
Leaving Walters Arena I headed north through the Brecon Beacons on the A4067, then on to Sennybridge and over the Epynt road to Tirabad. Back on A roads I followed the A483 to Builth Wells and north towards Newtown. On a lovely winding riverside stretch I got caught behind a convoy of four cars all nose to tail. With no way to pass, I spotted the turn for the B4355 at Dolfor and without hesitation took the hairpin right.
The B4355 goes from Dolfor to Knighton, which is to the south and therefore not necessarily en route, however it is absolutely worth every minute of the detour. If there is a finer road in the country I have yet to find it. Every mile brings more smiles. It has a perfect combination of fast and slow corners, is narrow enough for fun but not so much you can't see ahead, and is usually deserted.
From Knighton I really needed to head back to the north, so took the A488 through the oddly named New Invention to Clun and on to Bishop's Castle. I somehow managed to fiddle my way between Welshpool and Shrewsbury, heading in and out of Wales along the border, finding some very narrow whites along the way.
From somewhere near Whitchurch I headed towards Nantwich, skirted past Crewe and continued up, under the M6 and through Knutsford. The landscape changed from rural lanes to affluent suburbia and it was slow going, but with plenty of opportunity to check out how the other half live. I passed five supercar dealerships within about two miles, with Ferrari and Aston Martin facing off across a suburban Cheshire road.
To keep out of Manchester I headed more east than north, and finally escaped from suburbia and got onto the Glossop road heading for the moors. It's many years since I last drove through this area and I had forgotten how beautiful it is.
I took the road to Woodhead and left Derbyshire behind, crossing into Yorkshire via Holme Moss, the site of the highest transmitting station in England. The road goes on to Holmfirth. From there I kept east of Huddersfield and drove on through the edge of Mirfield and Heckmondwike and up to to Birstall before picking up the A62 into Leeds city centre, making it to my childhood home in Moortown eight hours after I started.
OK, so using motorways would have been three hours faster...
No motorways made it an epic road trip.