Adventure and nature — a bikepacking weekend in Wales

Mountain Biking Collection by
komoot

On a bikepacking adventure through Wales, one thing is guaranteed: You'll see more sheep than people. On this adventure, as you pedal from Newport to Bangor, you'll cut through lush green mountains, climb plateaus, skirt through forests, glide past lakes — and experience the best of the beautiful Welsh landscape. And as sheep reside in all of Wales' best places, you'll forever be watched by groups of them as that's exactly where you're going: Experience an unforgettably beautiful bikepacking weekend in Wales.

Your starting point for this epic adventure is in the southern city of Newport. On your way north, you'll visit idyllic historical canals, cycle through picturesque small market towns, ride through mystical forests with huge, ancient trees, and pedal past lakes and reservoirs. Taking you through both the Snowdonia National Park and the Brecon Beacons National Park, the full ride incorporates some of the most beautiful places in the country, with one of the best moments of this ride being an overnight stay in a tent on the banks of the breathtaking Claerwen Reservoir.

How you realize our idea of a weekend Tour is entirely up to you. We have divided the route into four relatively short stages because there are good overnight accommodation options available at the end of each stage. But it's up to you: ride two stages in one day and make a short, intense weekend adventure out of this collection. Or plan more time, ride all four stages individually and experience an extensive long weekend in Wales.

As far as overnight stays are concerned, you can also interpret the term bikepacking according to your own taste. If you want a little more comfort, hotels or B&Bs are available at the end of most stages. However, we recommend that you bring a tent for the night at the reservoir, as you should not miss this adventure. Maybe you'll get a taste for the rest of the Tour.


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Tips for bikepacking in Wales:

- Wild camping is not clearly regulated in the UK, but there is a long tradition of it. As long as you are unobtrusive, friendly and leave no traces, you are usually welcome.

- On long passages of the Tours, you won't meet a soul. Therefore, don't expect to run into a supermarket: Prepare yourself and take enough food with you.

- The rides lead over roads and bike paths as well as gravel paths and singletrack, and it goes constantly up and down. Therefore, plan sufficient time. For the most part, the route is simple and easy for everyone to ride. Two stretches of singletrack are a bit more demanding on the way, especially when the bike is fully loaded, but you'll be fine on a robust gravel or mountain bike.

- You will often have no signal while you ride. Therefore, prepare to do without it: Bring sufficient spare parts, rainwear, tools and a first aid kit, as well as a power bank/back up for your GPS device/phone.

- Traveling by train is a little tricky in the UK. On many lines, you have to register your bike in advance. You can usually do this directly and free-of-charge at the station (or by telephone in advance). If you don't make a reservation, however, you may not be allowed to take your bike with you. Also, storing your bike on the train is also operator-specific. Therefore, look out for the signalman/woman or the ticketer at the station and ask them where you should store your bike.

On The Map

Tours & Highlights

  • Intermediate
    04:28
    43.5 mi
    9.7 mph
    2,675 ft
    2,425 ft
    Intermediate mountain bike ride. Good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    Our bikepacking tour starts in Newport, South Wales. Only a few streets and you are out of the city and in the middle of the green. The first "Aha" moment awaits you after a few minutes, when you turn onto the bike path along the Monmouthshire Canal. In a wonderful idyll you follow the old canal system, which was once built to transport iron and coal. Since there were a few vertical meters to overcome, you then built countless locks in the system, which are well preserved and you can examine in peace, while you drive along the canal.The next highlight follows immediately. As soon as you have left the first channel behind you, the next one follows - after a very small urban break. The "Brecknock and Abergavenny Canal" is also a relic of industrialization and here, too, it is so idyllic today that it is hard to imagine how the raw materials used to be transported by rail to the railway. Today, only ducks and - quite occasionally - small boats with people seeking relaxation swim on it. In any case, you will certainly enjoy this narrow clay path.After about 35 kilometers, there will be a little bit of hunger: How good that our route now kicks off the canal and you relax and roll down to Abergavenny. The small town is known as the "Gateway to the Brecon Beacons", which is the mountain range in the southeast of Wales. And it is the same in these mountains - but only after you have strengthened yourself in the beautiful city properly. Abergavenny is known for its good Welsh food.After quietly curling up along the canals, you'll really get to know Wales. Because the long, flat cycle path along the canal in Wales is quite a rarity: usually it goes either up or down. For the next 20 kilometers, a long climb is waiting for you, which at the end just before Gospel Pass is really steep. And it will be nice: the small roads sometimes run between meter-high hedges and sometimes the view opens onto the mountains in the background. It is green, calm and beautiful. Very seldom a car, almost always present, however, the sheep, which take you at any time with a friendly "Mäh" in receipt.At the top of the Gospel Pass, you deserve a break. Find a beautiful rock, sit on it and just enjoy the wonderful view, which is breathtaking in all directions. And collect the forces for the next descent. It does not lead across the road, but over a narrow trail down to the valley, which is beautiful, but will challenge you technically. At the very end some thick roots and small heels are waiting for you. If in doubt, move here rather a piece - we are sure that this will not diminish your excellent mood in this great area. Once at the bottom, you can cool off with a dip in the cool Wye and end the evening in the quiet village of Glasbury.The starting point of this tour, Newport, you achieve excellent by train. From London, there is a non-stop, high-speed connection that takes just 2.5 hours. Newport itself offers all sorts of accommodation to suit every taste. If you do not want to give up on a tight roof, you'll find what you're looking for in Glasbury or nearby Hay-on-Wye.

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  • Intermediate
    04:29
    41.9 mi
    9.4 mph
    2,700 ft
    1,675 ft
    Intermediate mountain bike ride. Good fitness required. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The height profile of this stage does not look so wavy in vain. It's an ups and downs today! But one in its most beautiful form. And always, when you are out of breath, a great short descent or awesome outlook will cheer you up again. But one after anonther...You start in Glasbury and follow the River Wye for quite a while, which is not always visible but is still present. Sometimes you drive directly along it, sometimes the small roads and cycle paths keep a little distance. But you always drive through the beautiful landscape of Wales, which is a real treat.This area is not very densely populated, and if you do not want to carry your food around with you, you will be pleased with the few opportunities you have on the road. The small town of Builth Wells is such a place. The bike path leads you directly past a supermarket, which is integrated into a petrol station. The supermarket is well equipped and ensures that you can continue well-bred.Once you are out of the city, it will be wonderfully quiet again. More and more often the climbs take longer. And again and again follows a nice descent. Until you can see in the distance the first harbingers for the end of the stage: The dam of the Caban Coch Reservoir. The route follows the course of its shore for a while and once you have crossed the big bridge over the lake, it goes uphill again. The current destination, the Claerwen Reservoir, is located at about 380 meters altitude, nestled in the beautiful hills of the Elan Valley, also known as the "Welsh Lake District", because there are so many reservoirs here.Up here is the perfect place to camp. Wonderful nature, absolute peace (apart from the occasional mowing of the sheep) and a view that will amaze you. It's not officially allowed to camp up there, but as long as you keep a low profile and leave no mark, no one will complain. The Welsh police, in any case, usually both eyes shut. Your perfect nature experience is therefore nothing in the way.Here are some great tips on the topic of wild camping and the main rules of behavior: fraeulein-draussen.de/wildcampen-grossbritannien-irland/#8222Leave_No_Trace8220

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  • Intermediate
    04:09
    36.8 mi
    8.9 mph
    2,500 ft
    3,775 ft
    Intermediate mountain bike ride. Good fitness required. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The day could not start any better. At the top of the Claerwen Reservoir, the first rays of the sun wake you up and the sheep greet you with their friendly "Mähs" in all pitches. Treat yourself to a small breakfast (which you should definitely pack the day before), remove the tent and continue!The tour begins with a gravel passage that has it all. The surface is sometimes very bumpy and sometimes so much that you better push a few feet. Then at least you have time to look at the surroundings in peace. Wow, that's nice here! And since you will most likely not have a mobile phone network, you can just enjoy the idyll and nature in peace. You can also post the great souvenir photo tonight.Fast forward you will not come up here. Again and again you have to stop to open a pasture gate and - important - to close it again so that the sheep stay in their pasture. Even a small brook crossing is part of the nature experience with it. If your stomach growls and you are a bit worried when a grocery store finally comes, we can reassure you. Even if you first have to make do with a gas station. However, it is well equipped and that has a reason. If you ask a local about the next supermarket, he will look at you in wonderment and maybe even laugh afterwards.The goal of this tour is the small town of Macnynlleth. In the center there are many restaurants, cafes and shops, partly as an alternative. Interesting to browse and maybe to buy one or the other souvenir, which of course should fit into your bike luggage. Above all, you will find food and accommodation here. There are some hotels and, a bit outside, a campsite.Campsite info: gwerniago.co.uk

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  • Difficult
    05:51
    48.6 mi
    8.3 mph
    5,250 ft
    4,825 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The finale of our Wales adventure is coming up, and once again, there is everything that makes Wales so special and beautiful. There are picturesque towns and remote country roads. There are idyllic river valleys and breathtaking views from the peaks of the mountains. There are crisp climbs and fast descents. And there are sheep. The only thing that still does not exist are even passages. In Wales it goes up and down.From Machynlleth you start over some small hills to the dreamy village of Corris, where most of the roofs and facades are completely covered with slate. This is because only a little further one of the world's largest slate mines was located. It has been closed since 2002, but you can still see its tracks everywhere.In Aberllefenni you drive past an old slate heap of slate, which is quite impressive. And this is where the longest and highest rise of the day starts. At first very gentle, later quite steep. Upstairs a few sheep are waiting for you and a great view to enjoy. Pleasure is then the departure, which is interrupted only occasionally by a pasture gate. It is also possible that a sheep or a cow is standing on the street. A little caution is needed.In Dolgellau you are in the middle of the beautiful Snowdonia National Park. The route leads over lonely country roads alternating with beautiful gravel paths. Above all, the huge trees are impressive and if you hear a splashing, it will be a small waterfall. In any case, there are enough idyllic places for a break.After leaving the Llyn Trwasfynydd Lake to the left, it gets really challenging again. A very steep, very rough dirt road leads to the top of a hill, on which you can enjoy an amazing view. And on the start of a single trail that wants to challenge you and your bike again. Drive ahead and carefully, then it will be pure enjoyment.The end of our Wales tour is the cozy YHA Snowdon Ranger hostel right on Llyn Cwellyn Lake. Maybe you stay overnight? Then you can come here first, take a shower and come to this wonderfully quiet place to regain strength. The next day (or right after, if you do not want to stay), just a leisurely 20-kilometer ride to Bangor awaits. From there you can take the train back to Newport or London.About the Llyn Cwellyn Hostel: yha.org.uk/hostel/yha-snowdon-ranger?utm_source=google&utm_medium=maps&utm_campaign=google-places

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    4
  • Distance
    171 mi
  • Duration
    18:57 h
  • Elevation
    13,150 ft
    12,675 ft

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