Rooting around my image files recently, I found a map of the Beddgelert Forest in Snowdonia, North Wales. As I cycle in the forest several times each year with my brother, I know the routes quite well, but the map still comes in useful. The junctions between the various tracks are marked with small timber posts, each with a separate number, making route navigation very easy even when the forest is shrouded in mist. It isn’t huge but it’s a wonderful place to cycle, suitable for families as well as people like me who enjoy an uphill slog followed by a fast and thrilling descent.
Our favourite route begins in the village of Beddgelert, taking the Caernarfon road which climbs gently northwards, past the camp site a bit further up, until a track forks left towards the forest (marker 89 on the map). At 51 we turn left into the forest proper, still climbing, then right at 63. By now we’re pretty high up but the track continues to rise to 47 and 41. The highest point is on the loop round to 36. It tales perhaps 30 to 40 minutes to reach this point, but from here, one can be back in Beddgelert in less than 15, beginning with 34, 33, 70, and 71, going round the top side of the lake. In the photo of my bike, below, the post is marked 13, but the photo was taken at the viewpoint numbered 74, I think, or perhaps 76. I’ll check next time I’m there.
The rest of the downhill follows 15, 16, 7, 8, 10, 11, and 12 back at the camp site, from where we take the road back down to Beddgelert. What makes the descent such a thrill is the tracks themselves. They’re wide enough for vehicles and surfaced with loose slate gravel, and they curve and dip, then rise again, then dip, mostly surrounded by trees but occasionally breaking through to a viewpoint before plunging into forest again. As you whizz down, the only sound is noise of your tyres crackling over the slate, sending fragments of stone in all directions as you skid across bends in the track. This is not a long ride. It can easily be done before breakfast or after a day walking in the hills, but it’s one we look forward to time after time. If you don’t have a suitable bike, you can hire one at Beddgelert Bikes, located in the forest itself.