The August bank holiday in 2017 was the hottest on record. I spent it exploring the depths of Mid Wales by bike. I road two routes from Jack Thurstons book ‘Lost Lanes Wales’.
Wool, Wind, and Wood
First up was ‘Wool, Wind, and Wood’. Starting from Machynlleth, my regular Welsh haunt, the ride climbed up into the hills South West of Mach, then returned along the River Dyfi.
This is an area I know well, but in the first half of the ride a lot of the roads were new to me. This was hilly riding with steep climbs and steep descents. The roads got quieter as I got further from Mach. I stopped to pick blackberries from the hedges, once a big bird of prey flew up from the verge, and rabbits darted into the bushes as I approached.
Eventually the route drops out of the hills and passes through villages as it heads towards the Dulas. It’s always fun to spot things in these villages; a buddha! a red phone box! a dragon on a roof!
Llanbrynmair is good place to stop for food, there is a pub, and a cafe at Machinations. From there some ‘Welsh flat’ riding picks up a brilliant rollercoaster of a road along right next to a small river. Fast and fun 🙂
Eventually the ride crosses into the Dyfi valley and turns back towards Mach. This half of the ride is flatter, but I was pretty tired by now. Still it’s a beautiful valley, and it’s not too far back to town.
This was a surprising and enjoyable ride – I thought I knew the area well but the first half took me to a lot of places I’d never been before. The roads were quiet, and while the hills were a challenge, it was never too tough.
Seaside to Sublime
This one isn’t a surprise, it’s a tour of the famous Mawdach estuary, one of the most spectacular spots in Wales. Officially it starts from Barmouth but I started to the south of the railway bridge. The Mawdach trail is a disused railway that’s been converted into a traffic free path. It’s flat, easy riding, with great views. The George III hotel is in a great spot, but it’s really too early in the ride to stop.
The ride leaves the trail at Dolgellau and heads into the town. The second half of the ride has a much wilder character! A stiff climb heads up onto the slopes of Cadair Idris. This is real mountain riding. In August the heather is in bloom and the hills are purple.
Eventually the ride reaches Cregennan Lakes, a great place to stop and explore. Take a map and find standing stones or climb Bryn Brith if you are feeling fit.
After that all that’s left is a really steep descent back to estuary. Time for ice cream or fish and chips!