welsh trail centres

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  • welsh trail centres
  • Pretty much the only thing I know about them is they’ve got names I’m too worried about offending someone to try and say out loud.

    Yeti however keeps bugging me to go and have a play, he assures me that they’re fine for relative beginners and I’m not going to throw myself into a tree at 36mph when I come across a double/tabletop I wasn’t expecting.

    Mrsconsequence is ‘well up for it an tingz blud BRRRAAAAP’, after damaging my shoulder repeatedly last year I’m apprehensive to ride stuff I don’t know… So I’d be ever so thankful for anyone who can write something that’ll reassure me I’m not going to die and yeti isn’t going to steal mrsconsequence and my bikes whilst I’m lying in a heap with blood pouring out from my ears πŸ˜†

    So, how are they for beginners? Any ones in particular you’d recommend? and which ones have more tree cover? (I’m not fantastic with heights so being in the trees is hugely comforting, those riding videos of people on a 1ft wide bit of track that drops down the side of a mountain is all I can picture when I think of trail centres lol)

    cheers people xx

    Don’t think there are any trail centres in Wales that wouldn’t suit a beginner. Even the “black” trails are rollable and safe.

    Thousands of people are using them. That wouldn’t be happening if they were dangerous. Go get stuck in.


    They are great for beginners. One of the good thing about trail centres is you know there aren’t going to be any nasty things lurking round the corner like a sudden drop or set of doubles (unlsess you throw yourself down the blacks). All the bigger ones are good for beginners IMO and most are in the trees. I can’t think of any trail centres with 1 ft wide bits of track with drops either side, sounds more like the Alps. Don’t forget, people only post their Gnaar to the max pictres, not the ones where they are pootling around. I like Afan and Cwmcarn but mostly because they are localish. CyB is great, too but a long drive from here.

    You’ll be fine. If I can ride them anyone can! The last descent at Penmachno is a bit exposed I think, but only on one side, and it’s really not that bad.


    philc – I don’t really know anything about the south Wales trail centres, but up the North wales one would all have at least one trail that would be rideable for beginners.

    However, from the point of view of which would be more suitable for those that are newer to it, I’d suggest them in the following order:

    Penmachno (but only one loop!)
    Coed y Brenin

    But there’s also some lovely ‘non trail centre’ riding that would let you really appreciate the scenery, landsscape and wildlife of Wales. Newborough Forest on Anglesey is great for beginners (and I suspect you might find it too easy), it’s flat, with fun bits of singeltrack, and you get to go to the beach πŸ™‚ Or up on Conwy mountain / across the flatter parts of the eastern Carneddi – stunning scenery and wild ponies!

    have fun wherever you go!

    Brechfa is always my tip for a noob. Lovely fast rolling green/blue route, and easy to get on to and mix it up on teh supa raddnezzz of the gnaar.


    cheers guys πŸ˜€

    think the only reason i haven’t explored such areas before is ‘cos Swinley is a 20 minute (mostly off-road) ride away from my front door… mrsconsequence is pushing for more ‘exploration and new places’ type rides so i better take the opportunity to ride with her when she’s motivated to be out playing with us!

    EDIT – it is the law that i should dig out the fullface helmet and hang it off my bars? my experience of trail centre type videos is that it’s kinda a must… πŸ˜‰


    Phil, you’ll be fine. If you do find yourself uncomfortable on something just walk it. There are no sudden big drops or doubles which sneak up on you. Everything is low consequence (!)

    Premier Icon portlyone

    You don’t have to ride it at mega speed the first time. Llandegla is more about flow than drops.

    Premier Icon timmys

    You’ll be fine. If the South of England is your only experience then the biggest “shock” is the rocky nature of some trails but in terms of tech it’s all designed to be rollable, with the exception of the occasional bit on some blacks, but they tend to have warning signs or be obvious.

    Best trails I’ve come across for beginners have been Brechfa Green/Blue – it’s in fact ace for all skill levels. I also like the reds at Nant y Arian for beginners – you can “session” bits easily in the area round the lake by using the roads to loop back. Llandegla is nice and smooth as well, and has a skills area for beginners to practice on. I guess Cwmcarn is the nearest for you and that should be fine for beginners as well. Most of these recommendations are based on the routes my wife has enjoyed, and judging from what I remember from the Swinley pootle Mrsconsequence is more advanced than her.

    What you REALLY want to do though is hike your bike up to the top of Snowdon then blat down the Rangers Path. Now that’s a fun day out…

    How much of the Rangers would I be walking down if I hoicked a XC bike with 100mm forks up to the summit? (Assume average competence).


    I recently took a mate along to CyB for hos first Welsh trail centre experience. He recently bought a bike and has really only ridden at Thetford, Sherwood and a day at Dalby.

    He was fine with it, and rode almost everything. The few sections he wasn’t happy to ride, he just walked down & we carried on – no big deal.

    It’s all designed to be nice & rideable, so there’s nothing massive to put you off.

    I found the worst thing when I went to a trail centre for the first time was that it all looked so hard (as in hard, not difficult). I was used to trundling round the soft soil at Thetford and was suddenly presented with lots of hard pointy rocks. If you have lightweight knee pads, perhaps consider taking them just to boost your confidence a bit, although they are by no means essential.

    cheers guys πŸ˜€ they’re sounding more and more appealing! mrsconsequence loves riding stuff that flows… doesn’t mind tabletops if she can roll over them and her technical stills aren’t exactly bad πŸ˜€

    i’m guessing most of the designated trails are reasonably weatherproof?

    i’m not gunna ask what tyres as i really don’t care! winter tyres all year round so they wear out in time for summer lol

    EDIT – recently got some knee/shin pads which i’m very happy with, wore them on saturday for a ride and didnt even notice i was wearing them, forgot to take them off until about 45minutes after we stopped riding so the plan is to wear them much more often anyway πŸ™‚

    Premier Icon portlyone

    martinhutch – Member

    How much of the Rangers would I be walking down if I hoicked a XC bike with 100mm forks up to the summit? (Assume average competence).

    40% most of the lower section I imagine. The LLanberis path would be bumpy but doable.

    How much of the Rangers would I be walking down if I hoicked a XC bike with 100mm forks up to the summit? (Assume average competence).

    Depends what you mean by average competence πŸ˜‰

    I did it on my G-Spot with a mate on a Blue Pig, we were both fine apart from a couple of sections, but that was entirely down to balls rather than travel. I’d happily do it on a 100mm hardtail, I’d be more worried about bending lightweight bits than anything.

    What’s your usual riding?

    40% most of the lower section I imagine. The LLanberis path would be bumpy but doable.

    Think I’ll save that one for a bit then.

    What’s your usual riding?

    XC in the Dales mainly, Gisburn etc. Just fancied a few days in Snowdonia next year.

    My hardtail is a big lump of steel, so not as easy to bend as some, I guess.

    Still – don’t want to hijack the OP’s thread, I’m interested in responses to his question as well…

    hijack away dude, i’m not fussed! πŸ˜€

    if anybody fancies posting the odd video of any recommended runs that’d be cool!


    Phil – let me know if you and your lady fancy a run out to Llandegla. It’s ace, and I’ve got to go there and do a risk assessment (ahem) for a school trip in the next month or two*, so I’d be happy to guide you!

    *DISCLAIMER: This is suitably vague due to my newborn child being difficult and not sleeping when I ask her to do so.

    If you’re used to big pointy rocks you’ll be fine. If you’re not… Less so!

    Phil – I really enjoyed CyB out of the northern centres, seem to remember there being some proper nice flowy singletrack bits. The Marin not so much, there are some great bits but a LOT of fireroad. Llandegla was ok, but never really excited me and ‘Machno is definitely one to do when you’re feeling fit, it takes a lot of input to get the best out of it.

    Down south I’ve only ridden the blue and green at Brechfa, which are ACE.


    mrsconsequence loves riding stuff that flows

    This is where the welsh trail centres do well. You have a bit of a climb (often on dull fire road) then some lovely, flowy, twisty, occasionally rocky, downhill singletrack that all just links up really well even on the first run.


    Although Swinley certainly isn’t Wales, there are some good short runs, if you are happy tackling Babymaker and Deerstalker and the short routes there with their berms and table tops, then as long as you have that technique the routes in welsh trail centres will be fine, just a bit bigger and longer.

    The only difference is the rocks, just stay relaxed on the bike and if you find a section a bit tricky, then session it until you are confident doing it and move on to the next section.


    philconsequence – Brechfa is def the best for a total newbie.
    However, as you ride in Swinley. If you’re totally comfortable on the Labarynth/Deer Stalker/Baby Maker trails (esp the steeper bits near the start) and can ride the Corkscrew (and the 2 roll ins above it) in control, without dabbing, you should be ok on all the Welsh reds. There are a few rockier bits to armour the trail, but the technique is not hard. Have fun.


    i had been riding in the chilterns for about 6mths when i went to CyB – baptism of fire is how i described doing the beast.

    most trail centre trails will be fine, avoid the black sections first time out till you are used to heights and rock/slate

    however it will ruin swinley for you

    Premier Icon mintimperial

    i’m guessing most of the designated trails are reasonably weatherproof?

    The new bits of Llandegla were closed the other week due to trees being blown down, but the trails themselves were fine, just the occasional puddle – they’re weatherproof even when the trees aren’t. Llandegla’s ace for relative beginners, nice and smooth and swoopy, and even the new black sections are pretty much all rollable with obvious and friendly chicken runs if you decide to bail out at the last minute.

    Premier Icon FieldMarshall

    If you are looking for a good intro to trail centres and something flowy and in the trees, then the FoD is worth a look.


    The Southern Wales centres based along the M4 will be very easy for you to get to and in my view will inspire you to ride more. I strongly recommend you make a weekend of it, maybe ride two of Brechfa, Afan and Cwmcarn. It’s very possible to take a day trip out to Afan or Cwmcarn.

    Lots of info on the web inc trail maps. If you ride at Swinley you can ride any of the reds and take the blacks with a little care. I rode the red and black trails at Afan 6 months after taking up mountain biking and I’m hardly a natural !

    EDIT: I’d say your biggest challenge could be fitness, you’ve 300m-500m climbs for each trail and the desire for more down encourages you to take on more climbing. This makes staying over a better idea as you don’t drive home knackered and you can have a few beers.

    Premier Icon chakaping

    I’ve taken a couple of beginnery MTBing mates round the W2 at Afan and both have loved it. I’m sure you have madder skillz than them.

    Afan is great I think in that it’s possible for almost any rider to get round and enjoy – and just gets more fun as you ride it faster.


    The climb at Cwmcarn, Afan and Glyncorrwg is enough to but any beginner off. This could make or break any beginner. and they wont enjoy the rest
    I could highly advise the blue at Brechfa, or a loop of Cwm Rhaeadr. the good thing about these trails is the fact they are good at any pace

    Premier Icon vinnyeh

    I’d agree with Greeble.
    I’ve taken a couple of fittish friends, including a fairly handy triathlete, but with no real mtb’ing background, on a weekend to Afan and Cwmcarn and both struggled with the climbs at Cwmcarn and White’s Level, but loved The Wall- the techy bits of the climbs were a lot more draining for them than I expected, whereas the softer approach to The Wall worked better.
    Not my favourite centre by any means, but I’d go to Brechfa, make a nice weekend of it, blue/green once or twice on Saturday, Red if you feel like it on Sunday.

    If you’re going this time of year, and are largely used to riding Swinley/not used to winter weather in the hills, go properly prepared- routes may take you longer than you expect to complete etc etc, but I’m sure you’ll know that.

    edit: then again, if you’re going away for the weekend, Llandegla might be worthwhile, it’s a real giggle.


    If you’re used to riding swinley and can handle the trails that run down from the top of that “big” hill in the middle with all their berms, jumps and swoopy bits you’ll be rite on the trail centres of Wales.

    I took my brother-in-law to Coed-y-Brenin for his first outting on a MTB over the crimbo period, we rode the new blue trails a few times, Mino-Tour I think it’s called, they’re a proper hoot, smooth surface with mini drops, rollers and a lovely series of bermed switch-backs to pay with. The other trails there are pretty rocky in places.

    Llandegla blue is very similar, the old red & black can have some rocks in them and the new red/black is pretty smooth but with plenty of board walk and some nasty’ish climbs (for a trail centre anyway).

    The Marin is pretty rocky when you’re not on a fire-rad climb and cna be quite technical, especially when it’s wet as the rock/slate can be very slippy.

    Penmachno – the biggest challenge is the length of the two routes and the fact that it’s mainly traversing or climbing with a couple of cracking descents, there are plenty of rocks here too but they’re grippier than those at the Marin, despite being in the same forest.

    You’l be fine at most of them, just remember Llandegla gets stupidly busy at weekends, Coed-y-brenin never seems busy and you’ll rarely see another person at The Marin & Penmachno.

    Premier Icon SaxonRider

    I’m in Wales, and all Welsh riders are hard and amazing. FACT.

    In light of this, all of our trail centres are well beyond the capabilities of English people coming to visit, although we’re happy to charge you Β£6.00 to come and figure this out for yourselves.


    Why not have a crack at FOD verderers?
    Nothing to worry anyone there but a fair bit closer than Brechfa green/blue and just as much fun, if not more.

    Premier Icon Paceman

    Rock gardens and steps will be a shock after the loamy singletrack at Swinley Forest, but if you’re comfortable there then any blue/red runs at the Welsh Trail Centres will be fine for you, and most like the black sections too.

    I took Mrs Paceman to Wales for her first time last summer and chose Brechfa for Day 1 and Nant-y-Arian for Day 2. Both were a good introduction to the Welsh Hills, Brechfa probably the more beginner friendly of the two.

    Go play, you’ll love it! πŸ˜€


    If you do decide to go to Brechfa, then give Cwm Rhaedr a try. its well worth the extra 10km or so to drive to.
    Cwm Rhaeadr is possibly the flowiest, nicest trail in Wales.*

    (*Disclaimer – there maybe [probablly is] better but I’ve not tried them in my limited experience, and it will make you smile)

    edit. about 7km total, 1/2 up then down, but so much fun you’ll want to do 2 laps. a little exposed at the top of the climb, but then pretty much all through the trees on the way down. loads of berms and bumps and jumps but all rollable.

    cheers everyone! rock gardens aren’t something i’ve got much experience with but there’s only one way to gain that experience and thats to go and play 😈

    might take the bouncy bike instead of the singlespeed to make the climbs a little more comfortable….

    seeing as yeti is so keen to get mrsconsequence and I over to wales i’m gunna make him be our guide for the day, that way i can blame him when i hurt myself πŸ˜†

    bullheart… we should hook up for a spin sometime soon anyway, let me know when you’re next out to play!


    I love the welsh trail centers, but Penmachno is my favourite, i`ve done it 6 times now and still yet so see another person there..

    i’m not too worried about it ruining Swinley for me, the novelty of riding from the front door and being able to do a different route and set of tracks each time wont wear off for a long long time… plus its get more enjoyable the better i know the trails as i can ride them faster and try new lines πŸ™‚

    i wonder if it will encourage mrsconsequence to invest in a more capable bike at some point…

    Premier Icon DezB

    Hey Phil, I been to 2 (TWO!) Welsh trail centres. This one


    And Afan/Glyncorrwg

    Afan (Whites) was fab. Big climb up and superb riding back down, rocky bits, woody bits, some bridges, all flowy, ridable but not “easy” (ie. not boring). Me n Rob loved it.

    Brechfa was a bit different, but that’s cos I took the family. My brake hose split so could only ride the green trail, but it was still fun. Wouldn’t want to do it too often though as it was a lot “easier” (ie. more boring) than Afan. Kid on the green run

    We bumped into a downhiller frilla type bloke there and he moaned (constantly!) that the black run had too much climbing on it.

    PS. I fancy showing some folk the delights of my local “Trail Centre” come the end of the month (my birthday), you’re invited!

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