Celebrate Geraint Thomas’ Tour De France Win With These Top Welsh Cycling Routes

STORY BY Megan Hughes 30th July 2018

This weekend, Geraint Thomas became the first ever Welshman to win cycling’s biggest prize as he took victory at the 2018 Tour de France. Geraint discovered his love of cycling at Maindy Flyers velodrome in Cardiff. Wales is a destination with a huge range of cycling routes and is the location for the start of the 2018 Tour of Britain on September 2nd this year.

As the Welsh champion prepares to bring home the yellow jersey, the team over at Visit Wales have given us the lowdown on the best Welsh cycling routes, from lesser-known cycling gems, to lost lanes and cycling holiday destinations, as well as a selection of child-friendly routes for those making the most of the school summer holidays!


Cycle routes

Bwlch y Groes, Gwynedd

Not for the faint hearted, this is the highest tarmacked pass in Wales and a remorseless ascent over two miles. However, it’s included among the hundred greatest cycling climbs in Britain and you’ll be greeted with breathtaking views at the top, making the challenge of the climb all worth it.

Elan Valley, Powys

The Elan Valley Trail is a nine mile (14 km) trail, and an ideal introduction to off-road cycling. This is a spectacular trail that takes you past three reservoirs, and if the reservoirs are full you’ll enjoy the impressive sight of millions of gallons of water flowing down the walls of the dam. The Elan Valley Visitor Centre has a café, and you might even be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the red kites that live in this part of Mid Wales.

Brailsford Way, Snowdonia

Named of course after one of the most prominent figures in British Cycling, Sir David Brailsford, the Way passes through the UNESCO World Heritage site from the Menai Strait and on to Caernarfon Castle. The 13th Century castles of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd in Dolbadarn (Llanberis) and Dolwyddelan are also on the route, which is a treat for cyclers of all abilities. Novice cyclers will enjoy the chance to cycle alongside some picturesque views, while the more experienced will love the exhilarating descents through the heart of Snowdonia.

Harbour to Highlands, Snowdonia

Ride along the western flank of the Rhinogydd range, the most secluded and least-visited of all the mountains in the park. Start in the harbour town of Porthmadog and travel past the spectacular, Italianate village of Portmeirion before crossing the newly rebuilt Pont Briwet roadbridge. You’ll then travel up deserted lanes (stop for a paddle at the Nantcol Waterfalls) and work your way around Dyffryn Ardudwy before heading back north to Harlech Castle.

Cliff and Castle, Pembrokeshire

This route runs for four miles from the sea stacks and the Green Bridge of Wales sea arch to the tiny chapel of St Govan’s, wedged into a cleft in the limestone cliffs. It begins in Pembroke and passes a Norman fortress before looping to West Angle Bay and the Castlemartin Firing Range (It’s essential to check ahead to ensure that firing is not taking place. Firing times are posted online and rarely, if ever, take place at the weekend). There’s a rough gravel track along the hills with burned-out tanks to the left and blue sea to the right. Pass two more beautiful Welsh beached (South Broad Haven and Stackpole) before returning to the starting point.

Lôn Eifion, Caernarfon

Lôn Eifion takes you along 12 miles (20 km) of scenic views and historical landmarks, starting in Caernarfon and finishing in Bryncir. The trail starts near the imposing structure of Caernarfon Castle and takes you south alongside the Welsh Highland Railway. Cycle past beautiful views of Caernarfon Bay and Snowdonia, and you might want to stop for a rest at the Indigo Jones Slateworks in Groeslon to see the craftsmen at work and pop into the café.


Top Family Routes

Port Talbot to Afan Forest Park

A stunning route that winds through the wildlife-rich Afan Forest, taking in some great artwork, including the Afan Valley Portrait Bench featuring three local icons. Your final destination is the Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre where you can visit the South Wales Miners’ Museum; enjoy World class mountain biking trails, or grab a drink and soak up the panoramic views. A 12 mile return journey, this track is all on tarmac and traffic-free. Refreshments are available in Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre.

Millennium Park, Llanelli

The last car you’ll see is the one you leave at the Discovery Centre in Llanelli – perfect for letting the kids cycle freely. This superb route to Pembrey hugs the coast, providing views of sea and hills. There’s wildlife too: nature in reserves and flamingos in the National Wetland Centre of Wales.

Peregrine Path, Monmouth

This route zig-zags across the Welsh-English border along the River Wye. There are canoes all the way from Hay on Wye to Monmouth and castles at Skenfrith and Monmouth. Pack a picnic for The Kymin then go and see The Shire Hall and you have a one-day mini-adventure straight from a children’s storybook. 10 to 16 miles return, tarmac, largely traffic-free and with plentiful refreshment stops.

Cardiff to Castell Coch

This cycle route offers a riverside ride along the Taff River with its own magic when Castell Coch appears like a medieval fairy-tale fortress. Victorian, actually, but don’t tell the kids.


Cycle attractions:

Coed y Brenin, Snowdonia

If you’re a beginner, or are looking for a trail that the whole family can enjoy, try the green Yr Afon Trail, which takes you along the Mawddach River and past the old Gwynfynydd gold mines. If you’re after a more adrenaline-filled, fitness testing adventure, dare to try the black Tarw Trail; the first purpose-built mountain bike trail in the UK. Expect to encounter rapid descents, rocky terrain, and beautiful views of the Snowdonia range. The sound of cycling sections bearing names like The Cavity and False Teeth – both with designs to get your heart pumping – is surely too good a potential challenge to turn down.

For more information: https://www.beicsbrenin.co.uk/

Antur Stiniog, Blaenau Ffestiniog

An adrenaline-filled centre of excellence for all things exhilarating within the former slate mining town, this is the place to roll, rattle and rock over steep swoops and tricky terrains. You can also learn to master your skills with the advice of the experts responsible for formulating these thrilling trails.

For more information: http://www.anturstiniog.com/

BikePark Wales, Merthyr Tydfil

BikePark Wales is located just south of the Brecon Beacons National Park. The Green Trail is designed as an introduction to mountain biking, and is suitable for all the family, but if you’re after a fast paced expert trail, try Enter the Dragon for great jumps, or perhaps Dai Hard, which is packed with tight twists, rocks and drops. There’s also a mini bus service to take you up to the start of the trails for your next run down. Bike hire is available on site.

For more information: https://www.bikeparkwales.com/


Cycling holidays:

Lôn Las Cymru

A cycling holiday along the best part of the Welsh National Cycle route – through Mid-Wales. This seven-day tour takes you through the Black and White Villages from Presteigne to Hay on Wye, then up the Wye Valley through Builth Wells to the Elan Valley and Red Kite country.

The holiday includes:

  • 7 day cycle tour with six nights B&B
  • Quality bikes and equipment
  • Luggage transportation
  • Special route guides and maps
  • Comprehensive holiday information pack
  • Full emergency back-up service
  • Safe parking at Petchfield Farm

Difficulty Level: Easy to moderate cycling with one difficult day-of 35 miles and two hills. Total 126 miles.
Number of days: 7 days, 6 nights

For more information: www.wheelywonderfulcycling.co.uk 

Snowdonia Cycling Holidays

The guided rides take cyclists along the coastline crossing the Mawddach Estuary, or into the mountains through valleys with beautiful rivers running out of the mountain lakes. The rides begin and end at Bryn Teg and range in distance from 25 miles to 50 miles. Groups are made up of no more than six people per holiday, and rides will be catered for by tailoring the route to the requirements of the group.

Transport is provided to and from accommodation. At the farmhouse guests have the benefit of an outdoor swimming pool and a hot tub.

Difficulty Level: Beginner to Advanced
Number of days: 2 or 3 nights

For more information: www.snowdoniacyclingholidays.com

Enjoyed this article? click here to get more from us

Latest Posts

Next Story

Anatom Teko M3rino.XC Light Hiking Socks