Keep cycling until you're too drunk to care

Or you could try swimming the length of a rather mucky ditch. Rupert Isaacson on the Real Ale Wobble and Bog snorkelling

If mountain biking has always seemed a little on the serious side for you - too much panting uphill and getting muddy - you might want to give this a try: cycling from pub to pub through the Welsh hills until you are too drunk to care about the mud and exhaustion, or about being seen getting off and pushing. The Real Ale Wobble is a once-a-year charity event organised by the Neuadd Arms Hotel in Llanwrtyd Wells (which, with a population of 600, claims to be Britain's smallest town). It's about as silly as it gets as, for an pounds 8 entry fee, you cycle up through forestry plantations drinking Felinfoel's Double Dragon and Tomas Watkins's bitter at set places among the trees. The 25-mile off-road route is clearly marked, so that even with double vision you would have a hard time getting lost. The routes have to be off-road, not because it makes for a harder cycle, though that is certainly the case, but because the police get upset with cyclists drinking free beer along the public roadways.

However, the hotel will now organise private Real Ale Wobbles for groups of around 10 people, laying on the beer for as little as pounds 5 per head. Nobody cares if you fall off, nobody cares if you need to stop to pee every few hundred yards. The only thing the guide does care about is that you make it home. But that is the beauty of a Real Ale Wobble; you can drink as much as you like (pretty much) but it is unlikely that you will get too drunk to manage the bike. The exercise you get in between the drinking stops is generally enough to work off the booze from one session to the next. So in fact, you can go away for a serious weekend's beer drinking and come back fitter than you went away, or at least without having put on any weight. If you feel at the end of a day in the forests that you have not drunk enough, the hotel serves the same real ales, so you can make up for lost drinking time in the interim between washing off the mud and sweat and dropping down with exhaustion after the day. Twenty-five miles off-road is enough for anyone, beer or no beer.

The Real Ale Wobble is not the only silly thing organised by the Neuadd Arms Hotel. It also hosts Britain's annual 20-mile mountain-bike bog-leaping point to point, held in conjunction with its bog snorkelling championship. Bog snorkelling is a truly pagan affair. Every August bank holiday, people flock from all over Wales (and increasingly, from England) to enter the bog snorkelling race. The original bog, up on the mountain above the hotel, has had a 200ft-long trench cut into it.

Competitors must swim two lengths, face-down, using only a snorkel to breathe in water which Mr Green, the hotel owner, describes as "pretty dirty". You are expected to provide your own snorkel and flippers and to be in reasonably good physical shape. You'll need to be to win. The fastest time so far is two minutes, 11 seconds for the two lengths, a record set by a member of an English all-girl underwater hockey (a sport known as Octopushy) team. In the second week of every August, the hotel also organises its Red Kite Bash, with a bike-dismantling limbo contest, bike footy and bike polo and, for the really suicidal, chainless downhill.

If you don't want to get quite so frantic, the hotel also offers guided and self-guided mountain biking on your bike or the hotel's through the Cambrian mountains. These can be anything from short pootles in the forest to 50 mile-a-day epics.

After all this it seems irrelevant to say how beautiful the hills around Llanwrtyd Wells are. There are deer in the forests, red kites and buzzards circling over the hillsides. Even peregrines occasionally flap out of the craggier sections of hillside, screaming at you to bugger off away from their nesting grounds.

FACT FILE

Contacts

Neuadd Arms Hotel, Llanwrtyd Wells, Powys, LD5 4RB, (tel: 01591) 610236

Season

Year round for Wobbling. August bank holiday weekend only for bog snorkelling.

Accommodation

14 double, 6 single rooms.

Tariffs

Real Ale Wobbles for a group of 10 cost about pounds 5 per head, including beer. Bike hire is pounds 14 per day or pounds 50 per week.B&B, pounds 18 to pounds 23 per day; full board pounds 30 per day. Discounts for children and groups available.

Booking

pounds 25 deposit per person, balance due 6 weeks before holiday. Cancellation charge of 50 per cent of total cost if notice received more than 4 weeks in advance, 75% if less than 4 weeks.

Insurance

Clients must have their own insurance

Safety

On you own head be it. The bikes are regularly serviced though

Access The nicest way to get to Llanwrtyd Wells is by train on the Heart of Wales Line that runs between Swansea and Shrewsbury. The hotel will pick up from the station. Be aware, however, that trains do not run on Sundays. Llanwrtyd Well lies on the A483 about half-an-hour west of Builth Wells.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
beauty
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
transfers
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Sport
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
film
News
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
News
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Sport
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Sport
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
tv
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Sport
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
News
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
people
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
tech
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
tech
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Sales Manager (Fashion and Jewellery), Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Volunteer Digital Marketing Trustee needed

    Voluntary, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Are you keen on...

    Java Swing Developer - Hounslow - £33K to £45K

    £33000 - £45000 per annum + 8% Bonus, pension: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: ...

    Corporate Events Sales Manager, Marlow,Buckinghamshire

    £30K- £40K pa + Commision £10K + Benefits: Charter Selection: Rapidly expandin...

    Day In a Page

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice