The day starts with an early alarm…..I need to be up on the hills in case the flying starts early in the morning.


Seaside town of Aberystwyth, Wales

I climb out of bed and slowly ready myself for the day ahead. It’s only a 40 minute drive from my hotel in the sleepy seaside town of Aberystwyth to the loop but on a busy day parking can be at a premium.


Looking east down the valley

The Machynlleth Loop, or simply the “MACH Loop”, is a series of valleys in west-central Wales, approximately 15km east of Barmouth. It is known around the world for the fast military jet aircraft that conduct low level training through the picturesque hillsides.

There are around 5 to 6 spots to climb to but probably the most famous pair are CAD East & CAD West.


Map showing the various routes & points. Photo credit to

Being my first time up at the loop I decided to play it safe and head for CAD West.

While looking fairly straight forward, the climb still turned out to be around a ½ mile….but over 51 stories. It defiantly shows people their fitness levels, or lack thereof!

Day 1 (Monday) was not the best day, having arrived around 10am and only being able to stay until just after 1pm, due to the weather. For the whole time just a single Typhoon came through.


A lone Typhoon for the Monday

It instantly provided proof to what the locals have always said…there are no timetables, not much heads up and no room for impatience.

Day 2 (Tuesday) was another hit and miss day.  The weather was vastly improved yet, after again arriving before 9am and not leave until just after 5pm we only saw 3 passes, 2 Tornado’s and a single Hawk.


12 Squadron Tornado GR4


12 Squadron Tornado GR4


12 Squadron Tornado GR4


4 Squadron Hawk T2


4 Squadron Hawk T2


12 Squadron Tornado GR4


12 Squadron Tornado GR4


12 Squadron Tornado GR4

Due to commitments at RIAT I could only spend 2 days up the hill and although there was not much traffic to photograph, I still loved every minute.

I doubt I would ever plan a trip to just come to the Loop as you could spend a week here and not see a single aircraft.  But as a side trip whilst in the area, most definitely!

MACH Loop is not just about the aircraft.  The roads throughout Wales are some of the best driving roads in the world with stunning scenery to match. On both days I meet new people, some local, others from as far away as I come from.

The few photos I did get are some of the my favorite I have taken in recent years and along with the beautiful countryside, it was an extremely enjoyable 2 days.


Sunset over Aberystwyth