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Make 2019 your Year of Discovery



With so many world class trail centres in Wales you would be forgiven for not venturing away from them often, but why not make 2019 the year you discover some of Wales’s wild and wonderful rides.

Remote and mountainous, these three routes will help you escape the crowds and enjoy natural and interesting trails. Just make sure you are prepared for the unpredictable Welsh weather and take the right map.


Llyn Cowlyd Loop

Distance 27km

Start/Finish Capel Curig

Time 3-4 hours


This is a short but challenging route. Set in the heart of Snowdonia you will feel immersed in the mountains without any of the crowds of Snowdon or Cader Idris. The route starts gradually on a straight track heading down the Ogwen Valley before turning northeast towards Llyn Cowlyd.  A section of hike-a-bike over some boggy ground takes you up to the start of some tricky technical singletrack all the way down the left side of the lake.  A stiff road climb and a switchback lane down to Trefiw leads to  a steady road climb into the beautiful Llyn Crafnant Valley.  A challenging grassy climb takes you back up to a bwlch at the far end of the lake. From there runs a delightful rocky trail all the way down to Capel Curig.

Café: Moel Siabod Café

This place is awesome. Great staff, good coffee and delicious food with generous portions. There’s plenty of seating and it’s always warm and cosy. The large windows look out towards Moel Siabod so even when you are warming yourself up you still feel like you are in the mountains.

Pont Scethin

Distance 19km

Start/Finish  Bontddu Near Dolgellau

Time 3 to 4 hours


This route is wild and remote. Don’t let the shorter distance fool you, your legs will feel as if they’ve done way more than 19km by the end of the ride.  You will get the feeling of stepping back in time as you ride through this ancient landscape. Pont Scethin refers to an old bridge in a remote valley that you cross over, part of the old stagecoach route between London and Harlech.

This is a two up two down route and can be ridden in either direction. Drive up the steep lane from Bontddu and park where the road ends. The climbs are tough but the descents are definitely worth it.  It’s best to wait for a clear day to really benefit from the fabulous views over the mountains and towards the coast.  It’s also an exposed route so check the weather before you go.


Café: T H Roberts

A charismatic café in Dolgellau. Set within a Grade II listed building this old ironmongers still has its original counter, glass cabinets and wooden drawers. It’s the kind of place you want to sit in for hours. The hot food, coffee and cakes are as good as the atmosphere.


Elan Valley Epic

Distance 60 Km

Start/Finish  Cwmddaudwr Near Rhayader

Time 6 – 7 hours


There are some fabulous routes in Elan Valley and this takes in pretty much all of them. Big grassy climbs, fast and flowing descents and wonderful views in every direction you will want to save this route for the longer summer days. There are many other Elan Valley routes so it’s well worth making a weekend of it and staying somewhere locally.

Of course if you don’t want to be bothered with route finding you can always hire a guide!


Café: Ty Morgans

A bustling café, bar and deli in the middle of Rhayader and a great place to warm up after a cold ride. Local ales in the bar, plenty of good cake to refuel on and decent coffee makes this a great little place to end up.


Where to find route maps?

You will find the Elan Valley routes on but the other two routes can be found in Tom Hutton’s book “Wales Mountain Biking” published by Vertebrate Publishing.


Happy Discovering!













You may think that investing in a better bike will give you more confidence but why not try upgrading your skills instead? A few coaching sessions can go a long way towards you having more fun on a wider range of terrain. It’s definitely cheaper than buying a new bike.

I started mountain biking in my mid thirties. Not a clue how to do it so I just made it up as I went along. I would often bombard experienced riders with “how do I slow down without going over the bars” type questions. They were very patient with me and I did slowly improve.

So a few years after starting my mountain biking journey I decided to book a coaching session.  I had to go right back to basics, even to just where I placed my feet on the pedals. My confidence did increase, I felt less like a passenger on my bike, but after a while I plateaued. I was happy riding cross country but anything too steep/rocky/rooty would often see me tighten up. It was frustrating as I knew half of it was just a mental block.

Having met Al and Ed from Pedal Mtb quite a few times I knew that they would be great to work with. I’d run a coaching/yoga weekend before. We’d had lots of great feedback and I was keen to run another. After chatting to Ed he kindly offered me a place on a coaching day at Coed Y Brenin. I could check out how they operate and see whether it fitted with my events.

As I sat in the Coed Y Brenin café holding a warm coffee and looking out over the misty conifers I thought about the day ahead. I was signed onto their Tech Course. Challenging terrain, roots, steep sections and drop offs. Would I cope?

We spent most of the morning playing on a flattish section of fire road. Sound easy, boring maybe? Far from it. It was mild for November and Ed’s drills had us peeling off layers. We went over the basics and practiced cornering, manualing and pumping.  Ed made some excellent points about where most of us go wrong and how to put it right. He explained the pump in the best way I’ve ever heard. It made sense.

After a play on the skills area (where I actually manualed at the top of a roller like a pro – woohoo)  we headed towards my nemesis. A section of wet roots with a rocky rooty drop that I always sneakily get off and walk down, well not today. No chance of escape. Ed showed us the best line, I gave myself a little pep talk, took a deep breath and just rode it. It felt good. I had conquered something. I could see that having the few nuggets of information about how to approach obstacles and using the right body position made a massive difference in the mental game. It’s not a new thing but it felt like a lightbulb moment to me. I am always teaching people to stand up taller and guess what, it works on a bike too.

After a quick lunch we rode out onto the trails. My other nemesis Cain was first up. This trail is hard. Its rocky, technical and doesn’t flow. After a rubbish first attempt I went round again. This time with Ed’s encouragement I rode the whole section for the first time.  We continued around the trails using all of the techniques we had learnt that morning and what a difference it made. On our return we were shattered but buzzing.

Since then I’ve held onto that confidence. I’m riding faster, cornering more smoothly  and riding more efficiently. I still need to master the elusive bunny hop but I can’t believe how my riding improved from just one focussed day.

We have a coaching and yoga weekend at the end of March. So if you feel like your riding needs a leg up then why not join us and see what happens.

From terrified to tearing up the trails. A days coaching can put a big smile on your face


How to Step Forward from Down Dog to Low Lunge

Most yoga classes these days are run on a continual basis so it can often be the case that your first class isn’t aimed at complete beginners. When it comes to the Sun Salutes you won’t be alone in struggling to step your foot forwards between your hands. Its something that doesn’t often get taught or broken down in a class. Admitedlly I don’t often stop and teach this movement as it would interrupt the flow of the class. However I do realise that I am doing a disservice to my students by not teaching it, so every now and again I will explain the process. Often the effect of this will be a lightbulb moment for some students but of course its rarely a quick process when it come to what our bodies are capable of doing. What you might not realise though is that a lot of the things we do every week in my classes are moving you towards being able to step through with greater ease.

Does it matter?

Our practice isn’t just about throwing shapes with our body. Its about learning how to move our body with precision and awareness, connecting breath to movement. When we start to refine this the whole practice becomes a moving meditation from start to finish. This is where the magic happens and where the practice moves from being a physical exercise to something more transformative and powerful.

So where does the stepping forward come into this? Being able to step the foot forwards gracefully and with control is one way of focussing the mind and creating a practice that whilst being strong still has a gentle quiet element. Admittedly this won’t happen overnight.

So here are some poses to work on that might help you to achieve a smooth step through. This is just my pick of them and there are lots of other poses that would help of course.


Core and Hip Flexor strengthening

How Prop yourself up onto your elbows and bend your knees in towards your chest. The lower back will be supported by the floor here, keep firming in through the lower belly. As you exhale straighten the right leg out parallel to the floor and squeeze the left knee towards the left shoulder. Press the shoulder towards the knee at the same time. Inhale to pull the right knee back in and then change sides. Repeat 10 times on each side.

Why this works? The hip flexors and abdominals need to be strong in able for the knee to be lifted in towards the chest as you step forwards. This pose will start to strengthen those areas (you will feel it working!).

Half Happy Baby Pose

How Bend one knee in towards the chest. Reach the other leg out along the floor. Take the bent knee wider, towards the armpit. Keep the knee bent but lift the shinbone up so that its vertical, the sole of the foot pointing towards the ceiling. See if you can hold around the outer edge of the foot and gently draw downwards with the hand. If you can’t reach the foot hold the outer shin. Keep the shoulders relaxing down towards the floor and breathe. Stay for about 10 breaths then do the other side.

Why this works? If you turned this pose the other way up it would look like a long lunge which is exactly where you are heading with the step through. This pose will help you get the release in the hips and hamstrings to be ready for your lunge.

Boat Pose  (knees bent)

How  Bend your knees, press down through the sitting bones to lift up through the lower back. Hold around the back of your thighs and then start to half straighten the legs. Reach the arms forwards and draw the shoulderblades towards each other on the back to help you keep lifting up through the lower back. Hold for 5 breaths then repeat a futher 2 times.

Why this works? This is another hip flexor and abs strengthener…you get the idea!

Cat Pose/knee to nose

How This pose is key to helping you achieve a step through. Focus on keeping the arms straight, pulling in the lower belly and front ribs (imagine trying to draw the lower part of your rib cage and the top of your hip bones towards each other)  and rounding through the upper back.

Why this works? This is the same type of action you need to do when coming from a Down Dog. Practicing this from all fours is much more accessible and will give you a point of reference for how the body should feel in the step through.


Plank Pose/knee to chest

How This is the second key pose. Remember the shape in your cat pose – that’s exactly what you need to do here too. You are making space for the leg to come forwards by rounding the upper back and pressing the ground away from you. Activate the abdominals and hip flexors by pulling in through the lower belly and ribs. Repeat this as many times as you can.

Why this works? This will really start to build the strength that you need for the step through. It adds to the building blocks of body awareness so that your body starts to recognize where you want it to go.


Long Lunge

How Start from a forward bend and step back into the lunge from there. See if you can sneak your back foot a little bit further away than it wants to go (don’t overdo it) so you just add a little extra stretch. Lift the back thighbone away from the floor and draw your chest forwards and then plant the back knee down. Stay and breathe for up to 10 breaths and then step the foot forwards back into your forward bend. Repeat on the other side.

Why this works?  If this is where you are heading it’s a good idea to practice the lunge a few times first. This also provides a nice stretch on those hip flexors, its good to keep the body balanced.


The Step Through

If you feel like you are miles away from a step through keep working through the previous poses until you feel like you are nearly there.

Once you are ready take downward face dog and start to move towards your plank knee to chest pose focussing on making as much space as possible in the upper body to draw the knee close into the chest.  Then see if you can kick the lower leg forwards enough to step the foot lightly (or not!)  in between the hands. It will feel clunky at first but keep practicing and it will start to get easier until you no longer have to think about it. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get it straight away, just keep practicing and you will get there eventually!




Post Ride Yoga

After a big ride or training session your post ride yoga should focus mainly on relaxation.  Long held passive stretches help to stimulate rehydration of the tissues, aiding recovery as well as creating longer lasting changes in the connective tissues to increase range of motion. Passive stretching also triggers the relaxation response which puts the body into the optimal state for recovery.

Supported Fish Pose

How: Place one block on the lowest height just under the bottom of your shoulder blades and the other block underneath your head. Relax and allow the upper chest and rib cage to open and the breath to expand into the chest. Stay for up to three minutes.

Why:This pose will help to open up the chest, shoulders and upper back. Making sure you focus on relaxing here will start to put your body into a paraympathetic state.

Wide Leg Forward Bend

How: Take your legs wide and the fingertips to the floor behind you. Use a block to sit on if you find your pelvis tipping backwards. Gradually start to walk the hands forwards without rounding the back. Pay attention to the inner legs and back off if you feel any pulling on the knee. Find a place that you can hold for up to three minutes without strain.

Why: This will help to release the adductors (inner thigh muscles), hamstrings and groins.

½ Reclined Hero’s Pose on Block

How:Take one foot to the outside of its own hip, toes pointing backwards. Use a block underneath the other hip. Bend the other leg. This might be plenty, stay there if it is. To increase the stretch take both hands behind you. You can remove the block and lie all the way back if your knees will allow but don’t force anything. Stay for as long as possible. Any pain in the knees release off straight away.

Why: This pose will release the quadriceps, hip flexors and front of ankles so it’s a great pose for cyclists.

Shoulderstand Variation on Block

How:Lying on your back, knees bent, lift your hips and put the block underneath the hips on the medium or low height. Gradually straighten the legs upwards and see if you can relax there for up to five minutes. You can also do this pose against the wall so that the knees can be slightly bent if needed.

Why: This pose provides a mild inversion which can help to refresh the legs, alleviate fatigue and is calming on the nervous system.

Enjoy the Stillness

There are plenty more post ride poses that you can use but these ones are a good place to start. Remember, your yoga practice isn’t your sport. Use it to tune into what your body needs and to encourage a sense of rest and recovery in the tissues as well as in the mind and spirit. Balance is key to being able to live an adventurous lifestyle, we need the quiet times as much as the intensity of adventure, that way we can avoid burn out and continue to enjoy doing what we do!

We always have people at our events or retreats that are Gluten free and often Dairy free too. We like to make sure that everyone gets good treats. For that very reason I have spent countless days searching for and trying out GF and DF recipes.  I have found some good ones (will share more soon) and some pretty terrible ones (apologies to anyone that tried those!). These peanut butter cookies though…well, what can I say. I’m a big fan of the peanut butter Cliff bars (energy bars for outdoor adventures) but as Phill commented when he tried one of these cookies – “these bad boys are like Cliff bars on steroids!”

So here’s how you make them.

Ingredients (makes 12 – 16 cookies depending on size)

1 Jar of crunchy peanut butter (palm oil free please!)

1 cup of Soft brown sugar

1 level teaspoon Gluten free Baking Powder

1 teaspoon Vanilla Essence

1 level cup of Gluten Free Oats (or plain old oats if you aren’t GF)

1 cup (ish) of coconut flakes

2 medium eggs


Preheat the oven to 170 C

Line a large baking tray with baking parchment

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl (yes its that technical). The mixture will be slightly sticky. If it feels too sticky just add a few more oats. Shape the mixture into cookie shapes. I used maybe 1.5 tablespoons per cookie. Flatten them down so they are around a cm thick. Place on baking tray and into the oven for around 15 minutes – they will look golden brown when cooked. Leave to cool if you can before eating them with a nice cup of tea! Or take them out on the trails with you to keep your energy levels tip top!


You could substitute the brown sugar with equal amounts of coconut sugar

To make them vegan you could use linseed eggs instead – one dessertspoon of ground linseed (flaxseed, its the same thing) mixed with a tablespoon of water makes one egg.

You could add chocolate chips…chopped dates…..leave out the coconut….you get the idea. I am going to continue to experiment but the base recipe is pretty darn good!


As a yoga teacher I am always seeking to identify the barriers to starting a yoga practice. Apart from the common misconception that yoga means lying on the floor and chanting there are two main things that I hear on a regular basis. The first one is “I would go to yoga but I’m just not flexible enough” and the second one is “I’ve been to a few classes but I’m not very good”.

Unfortunately we live in a society that is focussed on winning, being the best. From a young age we are driven to succeed, we are tested continuously throughout our childhood as if getting 100% is a marker of who we are, whether we are good enough. Social media bombards us every day with images of women and men in swimwear performing impossible looking yoga poses with impossibly perfect bodies as if getting 100 instagram likes is the main aim of practicing yoga. Really…is it? Well I can tell you that if it is then I have definitely failed!

This is the thing. A yoga practice isn’t about being good (theres a reason its called a practice). It’s not about what it looks like, its more about how it feels. Accomplishment in yoga can’t been seen from the outside, it is a very personal and internal journey. Now, I could go on lecturing about the philosophy and practice but my point might be better illustrated by telling you a couple of stories.

Its been an amazing summer so far and I’ve tried to take advantage of the dry clear nights to go on some mini adventures. Sleeping out under the stars for me is like a tonic for the soul. A way of getting away from screens and to just unplug, even if only for 24 hours. Its also about pushing comfort zones. Sleeping out on the mountains without a tent could make you feel vulnerable in a strange way, but once you have done it a few times it feels like freedom. Theres nothing quite like waking up on the side of mountain with the sun coming up, or blinking awake in the middle of the night to a canopy of twinkling stars above and a gentle breeze across your face.

The premise for me is simple. Find a friend who is game. Choose a date and keep an eye on the weather. Decide where you want to go…for me it always needs to include the possibility of a wild swim somewhere. Pack some kit. Go on an adventure! I like to keep things simple and for me its not important to summit a mountain, rather to seek out a quiet place and claim a small part of it for just a few hours, enough to sleep, wake and wander onwards.

If you are keen to try out a micro adventure then keep an eye on the events pages…there may well be an opportunity to come along soon!