A Welsh Wander

Not content with just looking at bikes on our recent trip to Wales I managed to fit Why?Bike in the back of the car for a spot of Welsh cycling too. I was relying on picking up a leaflet from the Tourist Office which described a circular route from Llandrindod Wells. As this was supposed to be a family holiday I wasn't intending to ride all 86 miles of the Rhyader Round, rather I was going to ride about half of it and then get a lift back with Dennis. There was only one snag with this plan – the Tourist Office was shut! No leaflet and no local map either. I hastily devised a route from Llandrindod Wells to Llandovery using a page torn from the Road Atlas. It turned out to be a real beauty but the absence of contours in a road atlas did throw up some surprises....

I headed off on a B road through Newbridge on Wye and onto Beulah. It was a pleasant enough road at first but it didn't take long to realise that I was crossing a series of river valleys. I don't want to sound like a moaning minnie but this was the worst road I've ever cycled! Up, down, up, down, I'll swear there wasn't a foot of flat ground on it! I don't mind climbing but I do like a bit of reward for it. This just climbed and plunged at a gradient between 10 and 15%, every time I thought I was on the final descent it went straight back up again. And I'd thought this was the flat part of the route!

Eventually I crested the last hill and dropped down into Beulah where I turned right on a minor road signposted Abergwesyn. This immediately began to climb but this was a nice climb with a purpose, carrying me steadily upward through forestry and past an MTB trail centre. I paused at a junction where a sign said 'Unsuitable for Caravans'. As I studied the map a large group of mountain bikers shot out of the trees and headed up the road towards open moorland. I followed suit, the road climbing steeply as we left the trees behind and emerged into a spectacular wild valley.

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Where we've come from

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And where we're going

It was a beautiful empty valley, the sort of place where you can hear the silence. The south of England is very pretty but it was great to be somewhere rugged and wild. I continued just behind the mountain bikers until we came to more forestry and they disappeared along a track as my road headed skywards. Even my road atlas showed black chevrons here so it was no surprise but it was certainly steep. The last time I tried to cycle up a hill this steep I couldn't keep my front wheel on the ground and ended up doing a very hasty and rather painful dismount to avoid falling off. I decided to walk.

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Now I see why its unsuitable for caravans!

A steep plod up and then an almost equally steep descent down the other side led to more forestry and then spectacular open views over Llyn Brianne.

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Why?Bike admires the view

Once past the reservoir the road began to drop, first through open moorland and then down into a valley of hanging woodland past the RSPB reserve at Dinas. The landscape was starting to soften now and houses were beginning to appear at the roadside. A tea room was a welcome sight and a pot of tea and a large slice of Barra Brith went down a treat. A couple at the cafe told me that it was all downhill from there to Llandovery. I tend to distrust such statements, especially from motorists, but it turned out to be absolutely right and the last few miles were a pleasant easy cruise. Apart from the first bit to Beulah this had been forty five miles of magnificent cycling country, hilly and spectacular.

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The last of the open moorland

5 comments on “A Welsh Wander”

  1. Keith Edwards wrote:

    That ride looks like hard work. On our family holiday I was normally allowed to do rides like that on my own when the weather was bad and very very wet.

  2. Mary wrote:

    Im sure everyone has seen this clip...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3qj5AZ-Ut0

    What happens when you ignore a road sign....

    Fabulous ride Hilary, Im most envious. Scenery is spectacular in Wales.

  3. Hilary wrote:

    Thanks for the clip Mary, its brilliant! 😀 I've certainly not seen it before.

  4. Chris wrote:

    Whoa! I hadn't seen that clip before. Scary stuff.

    Isn't it nice to sneak in a cheeky ride when you're away on family hols? The best of both worlds. Well captured photos, as always.

    Did you remember to pack everything except your water bottle? 😉

  5. Hilary wrote:

    Did you remember to pack everything except your water bottle?

    I wondered when someone would notice that! :)

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