isnít too unforgiving, as opposed to those intensely demanding, testosterone-driven,
total focus trails where, if you lose your confidence at the start
of the ride then you feel as if you should vacuum yourself off the
face of the Earth, along with losing the will to live and the feeling
that you should go back to riding Canal towpaths. Iím sure everyone
has had those bad-day experiences, always exaggerated by an awesome
however is almost guaranteed to give everyone something.The Trail starts
from a reasonably sized car park, just outside of Llanrwst,
a few miles to the North of Betwys-y-coed, in North Wales. The car park
is situated just off the B5106, almost opposite the Gwydyr Uchaf Chapel
and it is worth noting that the car park gets pretty full at weekends and
Bank holidays in the Summer.
To start the ride, once
set up on the bike, we had to contend with a long and demanding
climb. This has now been upgraded, so that the beginning section
covers an ascending and winding single track which hugs the contour
of the hill.
This new narrow track then took us through two barriers (which we
could ride through) before opening out onto the original fire road
a little further along its travel.. As we were on fire road the
grip was good which made the climb much easier. Once reaching the
top of the first section the views are engaging and we were off
to the right for some lovely sweeping single track, which ends at
a short section of fire-road.
This sets out
the template for most of the ride and as such it has been well thought
through with quick flowing single track and then short climbs on
The second descent has been repaired, as have many worn and erroded
areas, and is not quite as bad as it used to be as exposed rocks
have been packed with earth. No doubt these areas will become worn
again, this is due to certain difficulties incurred in constructing
the trail at the outset, we were informed by one of the Guys involved
in itís construction.
new, much better start to the trail brings you out at the base of
the long fire road climb which goes on forever.
At the top finally, sweeping, fast
descents follow...then it gets tricky.
Recent repairs have made it much safer for first time riders.
this there are simply a collection of excellent descents through forest
areas with the climbs in between. Breathtaking views can be had at
many points along the Trail and recent tree-felling has improved many
of the trail side views.
Certain parts of the trail have been cut through gullies with others
built on rocky small escarpments with quite sharp stones sticking
up, not a place to come off. There is a bench which has been placed
almost half way along the trail, from which you get views across to
Tryfan, Carneddau and SnowdonÖ.. on a clear day are magnificent.
Another section and you find yourself flying along a narrow, tight
and rocky ridge. Keeping focused and not scrubbing-off too much speed
allows you to skip over the terrain whilst frequently sweeping from
left to right and back again on these fast trails.
single track sections are climbs but nothing too demanding and as
long as you are fit, will pose no problem. With the mix of fire-road
climbs and off road descent there is always time to catch your breath
between sections but importantly there is not too much fire-road and
where the fire-roads are there is usually a climb, including the final
leg breaker that tests your stamina in the latter stages of the trail.
Towards the end, the trail really comes alive, with quicker and quicker
sections over the repeating berns and tight twist and turns. We found
ourselves storming down these latter parts with this trail providing
the rider with the sort of flow which makes it so exceptional.
On the Fire
are the norm
the time we got back to the car park where we started from, it was
smiles all round. The trail is so good it makes you want to repeat
it and some people do.
As with many of these purpose built trails we started and finished
in the same place but without repeating any of the sections apart
from crossing a climb which we had earlier covered. During
the Spring/Summer/Early Autumn the trail can be busy at weekends,
but this usually occurs between about around 10.30 and 17.00. And
anyway it doesnít detract from a fabulous day.
We understand that there are plans to create trails in the southern
and eastern parts of the forest as well. All we can say is ďroll-onĒ!ÖÖÖ.
conclusion, we recommend this trail for anyone around the intermediate
level. Advanced riders will not be disappointed, itís just a matter
Those wishing to enjoy the course at a more leisurely pace have the
option to do so. Reasonable fitness and bike skills, it goes without
saying, are required. It isnít extreme but caution is of course needed.
Warm-up before undertaking the first climb and donít be intimidated
by the early descents, they mellow and just get better.
From the North take the M6 to the M56 follow the signs for Chester/Queensferry/A55.
Follow the A55 to Colwyn Bay then turn left onto the A470 to Gwydyr.
From the South
and Midlands again up the M6 to the M56 follow the signs for Chester/Queensferry/A55
and follow the same as above.
This is an area
popular with tourists and the Welsh tourist board, TIC or Cycle1st.com
Holidays Section all have comprehensive lists of reasonable places to
stay. Betwys-y-coed TIC 01690 710426.
Also worth checking out the Wales Section of The Cycle
Holidays Directory here
Allow up to
3 hours .
Time to beat
1 hr 50 mins.
Addition : During Summer Months we have noticed an ever increasing
number of walkers on the MTB trails which can be dangerous on some
of the fast descents so be wary!