While many people headed to Snowdonia’s honey pots over Easter Weekend, team Ty Beic stayed closer to home and the gloriously deserted Carnedd y Filiast.
The mountain (I checked, it is one), is about a 15 minute drive away and overlooks Llyn Celyn with views across to Snowdon and Clocaenog Forest.
The route up and down is about 8 miles and is extremely easy to navigate with a clearly defined track to the summit.
And that track is begging to be ridden. Next time…
One local rag described scenes on Snowdon as resembling “Alton Towers” and covered in “human excrement.” I seriously doubt this was true as the unnamed local rag has some of the worst reporting and standards of journalism I have come across. Whatever the case, Snowdon would have been crowded. Carnedd y Filiast was not, in fact we do not see a soul.
And to finish the afternoon, we called into Manon’s Cafe at the National Whitewater Centre for one of their delicious wood fired pizzas. No photos as I ate to too fast.
The weekend before last it was the turn of the walkers. Many of my guests head for Snowdon (*sigh*) and so did these, but with a difference. One lot tackled the Snowdon Horseshoe, that’s a serious scramble, and my other guests ticked off Snowdon en route to Ben Nevis and then on to Scafell. 3 Peaks in 3 Days.
It’s been 6 months since my last mountain bike ride as my last attempt resulted in an unplanned dismount and a broken thumb. Pain, lack of control (nothing new there) but mainly fear has kept me off off road and on on road ever since. Richard found a sneaky local loop which has tempted me back. 1 1/2 road miles from Ty Beic, a mile long with 200 feet of climbing and a gradual ascent and gentle singletrack descent. Nothing technical and can be ridden all year round. Ideal. Ride it multiple times at speed and it’s a good workout. Perfect for a quick morning spin before anyone else is out of bed or a gentle evening ride before bed.
I first road it last week in snow and ice and again yesterday in mud. I prefer the snow. If Eleanor isn’t too brutal I may go again today.
Shameless marketing warning, if you want to try it for yourself it’s only £65 per night (£32.50 per person) to stay during January to March and there are further discounts if you are a Singletrack magazine subscriber.
The ride up to the Wayfarer memorial on the Berwyn has become one of our regular rides. A mini epic of about 24 miles with 3,300 feet of climbing. The classic Wayfarer route starts in Llandrillo and goes over the Berwyn and down into Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog. It’s an epic ride with lots of climbing and some interesting descents but finishing in Llanarmon DC means that there’s a long and hard slog home, unless you can persuade someone to pick you up. We’ve created a shortened version which starts and finishes at Ty Beic and doesn’t require a car.
Our route starts from the back gate and up to Caer Euni along the ridge before dropping down to Bethel and crossing the A494. There’s a much quicker route along the road if you want to avoid a testing grassy climb and some would say an unnecessary off-road slog.
Once across the main road there’s a bridleway through Ty’n Fedw and up to Mynydd Mynyllod. During the winter months parts of this can be very boggy but a dry spring and early summer means that it is still relatively dry even after some recent downpours. The track across the moor is difficult to find but we do have a GPS/Strava file we can share.
there’s a track there somewhere
From the wind turbines at the top of Mynydd Mynyllod we drop down to Cwynyd and take small back roads to the start of the climb proper up to the Wayfarer memorial. This is a hard slog up a tarmac road. Once the tarmac runs out the gradient easies a little as the track follows the contours. During the holiday season you may see the odd group of walkers and a few green laners but the track is wide enough to accommodate everyone and there’s never any conflict. And choose a day during the week you’re unlikely to see another soul.
before the crash
The climb takes about an hour. Once at the top take time to enjoy the views and sign the book in the metal box by the memorial. It’s then a fairly fast and fun descent down a rocky track to Llandrillo. Don’t do what I did recently. Hit a loose rock, not hold on to the bars properly, impromptu dismount, trashed helmet and damaged hand.
arty rock and sky pic
time for a picnic
Looking smug and not for the first time
quick check of the map
gates to slow the descent
If it’s open we’d recommend a quick pint in the Dudley Arms before bashing along the road to Llandderfel where it’s possible to have another quick pint and a bite to eat in the Bryntirion before the ride home. The beer will help numb the pain for the *testing* climb from Llandderfel to Cefynddwysarn and the final haul back up to Ty Beic. There’s another off-road route home through Ty Uchaf if the road doesn’t appeal.
That stem is too short
there is a lot of climbing
This ride is not for everyone. There’s a lot of climbing and the descent off the Berwyn is slightly spoiled by the number of gates. But if you like cycling out of the door without having to use a car, non-technical cross country riding with epic views and being able to earn your end of ride pint, then this could be the ride for you. It is rideable all year round but in the depths of winter I’d probably take the car to Cynwyd and ride from there. If you fancy the complete Wayfarer to Llanarmon DC and back then a cross bike would be Richard’s steed of choice. He’s written about such a ride here.
I don’t like putting the bike in the car to go and ride, so for me a cross bike is great. It extends my range from the doorstep, allowing me to eat up the road miles and access cross country epics. This was certainly true when we lived in South London but is even more the case since we moved to North Wales.
I just decided to rebuild my old Brodie, having managed to replace the bent mech hanger. Me and this bike have seen some action, from the Three Peaks to London League cross races and to the other day when I found myself thigh deep in a bog with the old bike on my back. Moments of elation when it feels like you’re flying, to despairing times when you wonder why you thought this was a good idea.
One boozy evening earlier this year, cajoled by an old friend (and Three Peaks stalwart), I applied for the Three Peaks entry. I didn’t get a place, but I decided to get myself fit like I really had to avoid wallowing in the mid-Peaks trough of misery. Well, I’m some of the way there in spite of a bad ankle sprain and whilst the fitness is lagging a bit what I have (re)discovered is my absolute love for the cross bike.
I’ve spent many evenings over the last few weeks poring over maps, identifying circuits of bridleway and byway that take me out over remote moors. And, when I go out the next day to track these routes on the ground I’ve been about 95% pleased with the riding. There I am spinning along an old drovers’ road, on a trail so ancient that the rocks have grooves cut in them by centuries’ of wear from cartwheels. I stop to look at the map and I see that the bridleway carries on over the mountain into the next valley and from there back down to the main road some five miles further on. I’ll be sitting down with a pint in an hour… And so I bowl down the hill and the bridleway so prominent on the map isn’t anywhere to be seen. And there you are suddenly ‘transitioning’ from firm ancient trackway to thigh deep in blanket bog. So I ask myself: is this a bad thing? And I don’t have to think long to decide that yes, it is a very bad thing and this feeling only grows as I carry my bike two miles to firm ground. Did it occur to me to turn back though? Of course not.
Then about two hours later when I’m finally sitting in the back room of the world’s greatest beer shop, I reflect that it is that familiar sinking feeling (5% displeasure) that makes so many of my rides round here great. Embrace the bog, knuckle down for a slog and then hail the grog. Exertion, stupidity, reward and REPEAT.
Like the first time I did the Three Peaks, I swore at the finish line “never again”, only to find myself in the pub a quarter of an hour later wondering how I could do it faster next year. STOOPID but FUN.
MB Wales has made a film about mountain biking in Wales. From trail centres, epic downhills, natural trails and family rides, it manages to convey in just over 5 minutes the incredible variety of riding to be enjoyed in Wales. It would be rude not to share.