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Welsh Coast to Coast (Route Advice – Mid Wales)
So I’m planning a Welsh coast to coast this summer (hopefully) and need some help on certain bits.
Hafren Forest – Think I’ve found a couple of the trails, but online info seems a bit limited
Irfon/ Twyi – Once again think I’ve found some trails using Real Ale Wobble route info/ MBUK route but its difficult to know where the best bits are/ if I’ve missed anything good. Will be heading east to west to pick up the Doethie Valley trail.
Black Mountain – Bit more South but was thinking of heading up over Fan Hir to Glyntawe. Anyone does this on a bike, I’ve walked it in terrible weather and remember thinking it would go?
Also has anyone ridden the Precipice walk south of Coed Y Brenin, looks like a nice trail on Google Maps
Does anyone know when the outer trails of Skyline maybe open again (Riding High/ On the Edge) as they’re closed for forestry works at the moment and was hoping to tag in on my way to Rhondda valley
Have look at that for some ideas and a GPX to adapt.timwillowsFree Member
Have you considered Sarn Helen – very nearly a north south coast to coast
It’s hard to know what to say without knowing where you’re coming from or heading to and what you want to ride …
Personally I would go down the Tywi track from strata Florida to get to the doethie. But that would miss out the irfon. And give you very wet feet.
Hafren isn’t exactly packed with fun.
Maybe come down Mach to Nant yr Arian, devils bridge. Or across from elan valley.
But are you trying to go direct in one hit, or?????
I wouldn’t recommend the Strata Florida track to anyone unless it was dry. I come from there. My Dad managed to drive the whole length in his Mercedes car [It’s deteriorated somewhat]. Some years back a chap ended up in prison for getting stuck at one of the seven fords resulting in a passenger death. I’ve always thought of that as a miscarriage of justice since there were no warning signs at either end, but I don’t think he had the heart to fight it. I once rode it on a trail bike and within half an hour the river had risen to the height of my tank. We were lucky to get out. We couldn’t tell which was the river and which the road….. It’s notorious for flash floods. WTRA who run Motorycle Enduros in there never use the ford sections. I’m pretty sure I did but since I was setting up a Polaris two day orienteering event I had the option of pulling those checkpoints if the forecast was dodgy.
Latterly I became the Powys unsealed road surveyor. I looked at a north south coast to coast route but couldn’t find one that was both mostly offroad and rideable, and avoided main roads. Since then FE has become legal to cycle but the routes on YT appear far from legal in places.
There is one rideable moorland bridleway running over the far west end of Gro Hill at the western tip of Caban Coch dam down to Llanwrtyd through the forest. The problem is all the other numerous ones aren’t. And there is one reasonable bridleway track that gets you from Llangurig into the north end of the Elan Dam system. You can access that by taking the old single track road south on the west side of the Wye taking the third tarmac right then up past Pen-yr-ochr. The other way would be use the Transcambrian route in reverse from Staylittle or beyond through the source of the Severn up to the Bidno stream bridleway and down to eithe Llangurig or keep on the TC till above Pontrhydfendigaid and either follow it to the Caban Coch reservoir or cut across to Stata Florida, assuming it’s dry…..
The easiest thin to do is use the Transcambrian section in reverse rom Staylittle own to The Elan Dams via the Claerwen trackmrchristFull Member
The Precipice trails looks like a good option. Not ridden it but is in my list.
You could then Bob up caidir Idris afterwards on your way to Mach. That’s what I did when I did a coast to coast.
Email me if you want my route.
The tywi track isn’t that bad in the drier months (April onwards),
I’ve ridden it as part of the Welsh 2 day enduro and mountain biked it many times as part of a big loop from elan valley.
Over the cranks in certain parts, particularly closer to Nant ystalwen but still rideable.
Also from what I gather powys county council have carried out resurfacing on the track last year, not sure on the extent of it but there was a closure on it whilst the work was carried out.
There’s not a lot in irfon forest tbh, even less now they have carried out logging work, even on the Welsh 2 day it was a lot of logging tracks across brash to make up the distance aswell as using the more well known stuff.
The trails at coed trallwm are still there which are OK as a well surfaced alternative to the natural riding in irfon.
As mentioned above it depends where you are coming from and where you are going as to the best route?
Trans cambrian misses out some great parts of mid wales which could easily be incorporated into a longer route.
Sorry I took too long and then couldn’t tidy up. This keyboard is knackered. The resurfacing work is mainly to repair collapsing culverts at the south end. The only thing you could do on the centre section is tarmac, but that would be polluting and wouldn’t last long. When I designed the TransCambrian it was specifically as a three day route. I felt any more than that would make it less attractive to the majority of riders, and any less than that wouldn’t pull them in. There is loads of other good riding, but unfortunately in Wales 90% of legal routes are either blocked or unrideable and Powys is the worst county. When I carried out the Welsh Gov survey there was one blockage every 400 metres on Powys PROW. After that Powys banned me from statistical surveying…
They only resurfaced the bottom of the Tywi track after you leave the forest. Lol to driving a car down it 🙂
I assumed this would be a dry summer ride when the fords are manageable. If not, the Doethie will be a slog too. You don’t ride it for the riding I know, but at least when it’s dry you can roll down most of it.
I hate the Claerwen track with a passion. Probably suit those who like that newfangled gravel thing.
I would hate to ride wales without any Elan valley.
Well he did it round 1970, used keep bees at Nant-ystalwyn. Claerwen track used to be my direct route to my parents, worst thing is the prevailing wind, which if you’re generally running south is behind you. It does go on a bit though I like the view.
I like the tywi track for its isolation, love the views heading down the valley after the neverending climb from strata florida, and the fact its a nice uninterrupted stretch of offroad in a very isolated part of wales,
I always head back into elan via the Bryn Clun bridleway just north of abergwesyn, to the top of trallwm forest then head for carnau and down the nant paradws, stunning views.
Re: the trans cambrian
Its a great route, I was just surprised there hasn’t been any further formal extensions, lots of options of taking in Radnor forest and surrounding area, but then again I guess logistics come into it!
Agree about the non existent rights of way in Powys, I’ll never forget trying to find the non existent afon Arban bridleway from tywi forest back to elan valley, couldn’t even find where it began in tywi forest, followed a permissive route which suddenly disappeared, so had to head all the way back to elan via the claerwen track, was out for around 8 hours!
From that day forward I learned my lesson with Mid Wales bridleways! Walk them first to see if feasible!finephillyFree Member
There aren’t really any specific trails in Hafren – a few motocross tracks but all the marked forest roads are good. There is a cheeky walking trail from the source of the severn down to Grid ref 875872 (landranger 136) where it crosses a river, then try to get over to the Elan Valley. There is a fireroad which drops into the sweet lamb rally complex (on the A44) aswell, then you could go over into the Elan from there somehow. You could probably ride from the top of Foel Fadian to the source of the Severn to start.AmbroseFull Member
How long are you allowing yourself for the journey? There are a number of bothies in the area which might sway your route choices, including a non MBA bothy at Claerddu, close to the Claerwen track.
Whilst the Doethie Valley has some spectacular scenery the riding is not really the best the area has to offer. Given the choice I would opt for The Tywi Track if it has not been raining stupidly. From Strata Florida there are two ways up that criss cross in a couple of places. The forest road is just that but the byeway is far more engaging and fun. You cannot avoid getting wet on the Tywi Track (known as the Tywi or Towy Splashes by the greenlaning community, loads of vids on youtube) but you may well make faster progress than on the Doethie which has a number of boggy walks and bracken forests. Having said all that the Tywi track has several river crossings. As noted by Cloggy above they can become very challenging indeed. There is a safe alternative by using the forest roads. It about 30 mins plus longer.
And whatever you do, do NOT ever think that the Monk’s Trod is worth thinking about. It really isn’t.
Regarding The Black Mountain, Mynydd Ddu. The climb up from Llanddeusant is very persistant indeed. I live locally and have carried my bike up there many times because the descent down to Dan yr Ogof Caves is one the best in the country. I always enjoy riding the short turf limestone gives. The descent gets better and better the further down you get. I have over reached myself more than once, oops.
The route finding on the ascent is easy enough but gets a bit sketchy at the top. There is a bog. It is a very, very, very big bog indeed but once you have got down to the Twrch river crossing you will then get to do that most wonderful ride down to Glyntawe.
PM me if you want to.MarkoFull Member
I wouldn’t recommend the Strata Florida track to anyone unless it was dry.
We had a fantastic epic when it was in full flood. Chest deep wading through the river bed, churning through headset deep puddles that seemed to go on for ever and then escaping up a steep cliff with one of the party demanding to be left there to die.
Not for the faint hearted though (in flood), but it should be on everybody’s tick list.
Slightly of topic but I can’t formally extend TC when it’s never been known to the [in the past] very obstructive county council countryside dept. They once rang up Ceredigion to tell them not to employ me. That was countered by CCW but I still lost that contract. I had worked for Highways on a rolling part time contract and the Rights of Way Manager loathed me for getting one over on him. He’s since been ‘let go’.
I did have a whole bunch of routes on the Roughrides website in the Kington Painscastle area, the same patch that the Marin Roughride went through, but it’s now defunct. The site badly needed updating and anyway, nearly everyone was going to forestry centres a few years back. If I wanted to get the route files out there where’s the best place on the web?
As to The Splashes well one ford had a very deep hole at one corner and I think that’s where the person died. I’ve seen a LandRover have difficulties there in normal flows.
Cloggy: YT? FE? Do you fancy a ride after lockdown, you seem like a mine of information and I would love to compare notes! (E.g. Golf Links wtf?!)
Ambrose: I’d take the Trod over the Claerwen track in the dry. The grassy descent at the end is fun. But then I am quite special 🙂
Doethie: Now that the council have improved the track from the chapel to the youth hostel, making both the climb and the descent less fun, it might be worth climbing up through Nantllwyd farm instead. View at top is to die for. Then a fun blast down the hill on a steep grassy path to join the Doethie track a third of the way along missing out the biggest boggy section.
Irfon: My favourite descent there is down the Nant y Glo valley. It’s “wobble 2nd descent” on Strava. Not techy but fun. White Bridge descent is the best way down to Abergwesyn but isn’t worth diverting for. If you then go up and over towards Llyn Brianne on the forestry road from Abergwesyn (the bridleway over the moor is a down only) at the end there is a fun steep bridleway to the lake avoiding ruts the size of the Grand Canyon. That said, if you haven’t had your fill of scenery, you could take the road to Tregaron and go over the Devil’s Staircase. Don’t try the bridleway south from Dolgoch youth hostel. It’s a nightmare. There is a nice path next to the road down to Soar y Mynydd chapel which is more fun than tarmac. Pretty much all of this is a bit sideways for a north-south route though…
While the Doethie Valley is iconic, and lovely, for riding smiles I would actually be tempted to head down through Crychan Forest instead…
I’ve been working on the perfect route in mid-Wales for years and basically there isn’t one.
That’s the conclusion I came to. Contact me after Covid though I suspect you know far more than I remember. YT youtube FE Forestry Enterprise [FC]
I had real trouble getting a campsite for 1000 back in ’95 There’s a dearth of flat fields in the headwaters
Nant-ystalwyn let me down. I eventually got Soar y Mynydd. Catching the old farmer with a young whore he’d bought at the Royal Welsh sort of compromised him….
Ridewithgps.com is pretty good for putting rides up for sharing. I’d happily upload them if you found it too much faff.
Thanks. I’ll get in touch with Joe who has a handle on the files.
Cheers for the advice all, its been most helpful.
I’m going to be doing it over a week and take it easy, have a bit of time to meander about.
Planned for mid to late summer, speaking of which when would be the best time to do it (ie the least rain and a bit of sun)? June/ July looks to have as much rain as winter!
Chrispo – Whats the fun steep bridleway to the lake, is it Nant y Fannog or another one?
Doethie Valley has been on list for a while so will keep that in I think.
Ambrose – Think I’ll take your recommendation of the descent to Dan yr Ogof Caves, it does like nice on Google maps. Shame about the bog though, but I’m used to that from my fell running days.
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