Prologue Day: An exhilarating (and penalty-free!) taste of the competition to come.
The elegant Victorian seaside town of Llandudno will be our home for four days and nights. There'll be a great atmosphere at scrutineering, which starts at 08.00 on the Promenade. Lord Mostyn, whose family built Llandudno, is invited to lead the judging of the Concours d’Elegance, sponsored this year by Rally HQ, the Imperial Hotel, and spectators can enjoy the show from 9.30 – 11.30.
A (gently timed) thirty-mile optional Prologue with a practice regularity section and driving test will help you warm up this afternoon. Almost all crews opt to join in. Documentation will be in Rally HQ, the Imperial Hotel, while in the evening the Welcome Dinner at Venue Cymru will give us a great start.
Day 1: Long sea views and new venues to enjoy
Starting at 08.00 from Llandudno Promenade, we begin with a scenic mountain drive that offers the first stunning sea views, then move west to our first driving test of the day at Parc Faenol. Wandering first down into Snowdonia, our main aim this morning is to enjoy the scenic roads of the Lleyn peninsula, taking in a visit to popular Dylan’s brasserie in Criccieth for a coffee by the sea.
After a spectacular driving test at nearby kart circuit Glasfryn Parc and a first regularity section we’ll make back towards the coast. By the sea near Porthmadog lies the famous AA**** Portmeirion Hotel, where we’ll wander down through the famous Italianate village (in which the 1960s TV series ‘The Prisoner’ was set) enjoying lunch in the hotel with its wide views.
In the afternoon we’ll shift focus, enjoying a couple of regularity sections to anticipate the next day, then taking in the great high views of Snowdonia, giving you a fine opportunity to enjoy the mountains close up. We plan to stop for afternoon tea at Bryn Tyrch, an old whitewashed roadside inn near the mountain village of Capel Curig that’s become well known for its great food (AA*) in recent years. After this, a regularity and two more tests will finish this first 160 mile day.
Back in Llandudno, you’ll choose from three options. Supper at a convivial Llandudno bistro is included, as is supper at the AA**** Imperial Hotel, rally HQ. At a supplement, there will be a champagne reception and private view at Plas Mawr (the finest Tudor merchant’s house in Britain) followed by a fine dinner at the AA*** Castle Hotel in Conwy.
We start from Llandudno at 08.00, running south over the highest hills to lunch at wonderful Palé Hall Hotel and tea at historic Tal-y-Cafn.
Today the emphasis is on regularity sections, and with just two tests we can expect crews with the best navigators to be near the top of the results tonight.
After a short regularity to wake us up around the Orme, the action continues with another through the scenic country south-east of Llandudno.
A further section then takes us over more high hills to a coffee break and action at Glan-y-Gors FIA Kart Circuit, after which two more regularities takes us to lunch at spectacular AA***** Palé Hall, a huge hit in 2018.
After lunch we enjoy two more regularities over stunning roads as we head across to Trawsfynydd to tackle a sensational test across the open hillside. One last regularity then winds back to finish the day in the Conwy Valley with tea at a splendid venue new to us, a coaching inn turned bistro, the Tal-y-Cafn Inn.
Back in Llandudno and your hotel, after another 160 mile day, you've earned it. This evening, enjoy an evening off – time to try some local seafood, maybe?
An exciting final day including a dozen driving tests, a couple of last regularities on the quieter lanes, and lunch at a castle steeped in history.
Today gives the drivers a chance to strike back, with a dozen tests and just two regularities reversing the balance from yesterday. We’re off from the Promenade at 08:00 and dive straight into a complex of several tests over closed roads on the Great Orme before driving east, towards further tests at stately homes such as Bodelwyddan Hall, Bodrhyddan Hall and Kinmel Park that lead to a splendid coffee halt at the grandest of them all, historic Mostyn Hall.
From here the event’s penultimate regularity section then takes us over the Clwydian Hills to lunch in the historic surroundings of Ruthin Castle. Now an AA**** hotel, this beautiful spot is a Victorian castle built on romantic much older ruins that was visited regularly by Edward VII. The gardens make for a fine wander after lunch.
On then to a thrilling Three Castles finale, with a final hour long regularity to test the nerves, then a series of fast paced tests at Plas-yn-Cefn, Lleweni lead to a break for tea at the expensively just-refurbished Dinorben Arms and two more tests at Bodelwyddan Castle and Kinmel Park, before reaching the Grand Finish on Llandudno Promenade. Relax now, ready for the Gala Awards Dinner, from eight ’til late at rally HQ, the Imperial Hotel.
Just under five hundred miles in three days. Twelve regularities and nineteen tests. Open roads and real hospitality at every turn. Your feedback tells us that the Three Castles Trial is unbeatable fun. And in 2019, with lots of fresh ideas and venues to our familiar high standards, we aim to prove it once again.