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Celtic rugged beauty by trail — Wales North to South

Steve McGregor

Celtic rugged beauty by trail — Wales North to South

Mountain Biking Collection by Katherine Moore



3-5 h

/ day

196 mi

17,775 ft

17,850 ft

Wales never fails, or so the saying goes. What’s for sure is that this corner of the UK certainly does have some of the best off road riding around, from the dramatic mountains of Snowdonia National Park, the ‘desert of Wales’ in the remote Cambrian Mountains, the picturesque Elan Valley and the wild and windswept Brecon Beacons.

This route takes in the best of it all, scaling this celtic land from North to South, linking the University city of Bangor in the North West to the national capital Cardiff on the South coast. Expect moorland, forestry, slate mines, endless gravel roads, singletrack, mountain passes and sleepy cycleways. This is the ultimate Welsh off-road adventure.

This route was devised by The Racing Collective and is part of their annual race, WalesDURO. During this there are timed segments along the way and riders typically aim to complete the whole 200 mile (320 km) route in just two days. This is pretty extreme and not for the faint-hearted, so here we present the route split over four days, which is much more of a touring pace for most!

Although you certainly can ride the route on a gravel bike, it’s perhaps better suited to a hardtail or rigid mountain bike. You’ll certainly see what I mean when you scale ‘the Gap’ in the Brecon Beacons!

One of the many highlights of this trip is the overnighter at Claerddu Bothy in the heart of the Cambrian Mountains on the second night. It’s one of the best fitted-out and maintained bothies you’ll ever have the pleasure of staying in, and you’ll see why! The other two nights are in pretty major towns where there are plenty of options for accommodation, but it is advisable to book ahead, especially in the summer months.

This route is best attempted during the drier months of the year, typically from May to September. This is simply due to trail condition, which can become poor when very waterlogged. In addition to this, there are two river crossings which are dangerous when levels are high.

You’ll travel to some really wild and remote places on this route, but access to the start and end is easy. Both are accessible by train, although be aware that you may need to book your bike onto services from Cardiff, especially if heading towards London.

Check out more on the WalesDURO route and event at The Racing Collective here: theracingcollective.com/walesduro.html

On The Map


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WalesDURO (Wales North to South)

191 mi

17,600 ft

17,575 ft

Last updated: November 10, 2021

Plan your own version of this adventure in the multi-day planner based on the stages suggested in this Collection.

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Stage 1: Bangor to Dolgellau - Wales North To South

    62.4 mi
    7.9 mph
    6,400 ft
    6,475 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Suitable for all skill levels.

    You’ll start the route from the train station in Bangor, although the official start of the WalesDURO route is from the lane under the Menai Bridge. From here, the route out of Bangor mainly follows quiet leafy cycleways. Brace yourself for the first and biggest climb of the day up to 550 meters, after

    by Katherine Moore

  • Expert
    48.5 mi
    7.4 mph
    5,900 ft
    4,525 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The second day covers 50 miles (78km) from Dolgellau to Claerddu Bothy, a definite highlight as one of the best bothies in the UK! Head out of town on a road climb up a single narrow lane, before joining the remote traffic-free cycleway. This thin strip of tarmac shared with the sheep leads you up the

    by Katherine Moore

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  • Intermediate
    40.3 mi
    8.6 mph
    2,950 ft
    3,900 ft
    Intermediate mountain bike ride. Good fitness required. Suitable for all skill levels.

    After brewing up some breakfast and leaving the delights of Claerddu bothy behind, the start of today’s route is absolutely golden. Rejoin the road that soon turns into a gravel rider’s dream - wide rocky doubletrack, flowing and fast down to the river crossing. During drier months you can certainly

    by Katherine Moore

  • Intermediate
    45.1 mi
    9.9 mph
    2,550 ft
    2,950 ft
    Intermediate mountain bike ride. Good fitness required. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The final day of this North to South Wales off road route tackles one of the Brecon Beacons’ classic MTB routes; the Gap. This is the pass between Fan-y-Big and Cribyn and tops out at about 600 meters (2000 feet). From here it’s plain sailing down the Taff Trail and some roads into Cardiff, mostly trending

    by Katherine Moore


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Collection Stats

  • Tours
  • Distance
    196 mi
  • Duration
    23:45 h
  • Elevation
    17,775 ft17,850 ft

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