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Adventure and nature — a bikepacking weekend in Wales

Martin Donat

Adventure and nature — a bikepacking weekend in Wales

Mountain Biking Collection by Martin Donat

4-7

days

3-5 h

/ day

169 mi

13,675 ft

13,200 ft

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.

My starting point for this epic adventure is in the southern city of Newport. On my way north, I visited idyllic historical canals, cycled through picturesque small market towns, rode through mystical forests with huge, ancient trees, and pedaled past lakes and reservoirs. Taking me 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.

I 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, I 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

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors
    Difficult
    05:29
    43.6 mi
    7.9 mph
    2,700 ft
    2,450 ft
    Expert gravel ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    My bikepacking tour starts in Newport, in the south of Wales. Just a few streets and I'm out of town and in the middle of the countryside. The first "aha" moment awaits me after a few minutes when I turn onto the cycle path along the Monmoutshire Canal. In a wonderful idyll I follow the old canal system that was …

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  • Difficult
    05:06
    40.1 mi
    7.9 mph
    2,950 ft
    1,925 ft
    Expert gravel ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    The elevation profile of this stage doesn't look so wavy for nothing. It's an up and down today! But one in its most beautiful form. And whenever I'm out of breath, a great short descent or an amazing view cheers me up again. But one after anonther...After Glasbury, I follow the River Wye for quite a while, which is …

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  • Difficult
    04:40
    36.7 mi
    7.9 mph
    2,525 ft
    3,775 ft
    Expert gravel ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The day couldn't start better. Up at the Claerwen reservoir, the first rays of sun wake me up and the sheep greet me with their friendly "Mähs" in all tones. How I would like to treat myself to a delicious breakfast now, but unfortunately I didn't prepare anything the day before. So I dismantle the tent and go on!The …

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  • Difficult
    06:38
    48.6 mi
    7.3 mph
    5,500 ft
    5,050 ft
    Expert gravel ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The finale of my Wales adventure is coming up and there is everything again 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 steep climbs and rapid descents. And there are sheep. The only thing that still doesn't exist are flat passages. In Wales it goes up and down.

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    4
  • Distance
    169 mi
  • Duration
    21:53 h
  • Elevation
    13,675 ft13,200 ft

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Adventure and nature — a bikepacking weekend in Wales