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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
people
Life and Style
techApp to start sending headlines, TV clips and ads to your phone
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
Life and Style
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
Latest stories from i100
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

    Oracle 11g SQL 2008 DBA (Unix, Oracle RAC, Mirroring, Replicati

    £6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...

    Recruitment Consultant (Graduate Trainee), Finchley Central

    £17K OTE £30K: Charter Selection: Highly successful and innovative specialist...

    SQL DBA/ C# Developer - T-SQL, C#.Net

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    Day In a Page

    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
    Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

    But could his predictions of war do the same?
    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

    Young at hort

    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

    Beyond a joke

    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

    A wild night out

    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

    It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
    Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

    Besiktas vs Arsenal

    Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

    The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

    Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment