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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