Wales - South to North - Bristol to Rhyll

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Tour Information

Wales - North to South


A five day trip through central Wales. Starting at the Severn Bridge and finishing on the North Coast at Rhyll. Uses quiet roads and Sustrans routes. This tour features four commercial campsites at regular intervals

Number of days cycling: 5

Average daily distance: 77 km

Average daily ascent: 850 m

Severn Bridge to Crickhowell

Crossing the Severn Bridge

Starting at the Severn Bridge, you cross the dedicated cyclepath before heading up the Wye valley. Up and over to Raglan for your first Castle after which you cycle past Abergavenny to reach the market town of Crickhowell. You finish at a good campsite at Cwmdu

Map for Day 1

  • Cycling Distance: 59.8 km
  • Altitude Gain: 793 m
  • Accommodation: Camping
  • Meals:

Crickhowell to Rhayader

Quiet roads of mid Wales

A lovely start as you climb a very pretty lane with wonderful views. Descending to Talgarth, you continue past Bonllys Castle to Buith Wells along a good road replaced by the adjacent busier new road, so it's quiet and flat.Llandindod Wells has the National Cycle museum and a larger shops after which you head to Rhayader and a night in the Elan Valley

Map for Day 2

  • Cycling Distance: 76.6 km
  • Altitude Gain: 708 m
  • Accommodation: Camping
  • Meals:

Rhayader to Barmouth

Sustrans route to Barmouth

The 'Queens Stage' Lots of ups and downs as all the bigger towns are in the valleys. The reward is great views and long descents. There are two tougher climbs today, out of Clywedog Resevoir and over the pass of 369m. The day ends with a steep descent to Dolgellau and a beautiful cyclepath alongside an estuary to Barmouth

Map for Day 3

  • Cycling Distance: 96.7 km
  • Altitude Gain: 1367 m
  • Accommodation: Camping
  • Meals:

Barmouth to Caernafon

Harlech and Caernafon Castles

Sea views as you head along the coast to Harlech Castle. It used to have seafront frontage but the tide has gone replaced by a golf course, well worth a look and it sports the steepest street in the world (well for a week until a place in New Zealand took that crown) Inland and back to Porthmadog, home of a heritage railway after which you follow a Sustrans route all the way to Caernafon, the last part a long descen/flat on a disused and tarmacced railway path

Map for Day 4

  • Cycling Distance: 68.8 km
  • Altitude Gain: 671 m
  • Accommodation: Camping
  • Meals:

Caernafon to Rhyll

The cyclepath along the coast

Into Bangor and along the coast and there has been a lot spent on cyclepaths here as much is along the coast dodging the North Wales expressway. Extensive sea views and static caravans as you pass through Welsh seaside resorts to finish at Rhyll

Map for Day 5

  • Cycling Distance: 87.4 km
  • Altitude Gain: 714 m
  • Accommodation:
  • Meals:

At the Severn bridge you will need the upstream side. In effect cycle on the right side into Wales along the cycle path. There is a small sign on bridge LHS indicating you have arrived in Wales

Follow cycle-path to west of Chepstow, then past the racecourse on the right. Road quite busy as going up the Wye valley. Take the left turn (effectively going straight) and steep steep climb upwards that flattens and passes through woods, pretty road. Don't miss interpretive sign that talks to you in English and Welsh at top of first rise in Devauden. Second rise not quite as steep then descend to Raglan, lovely views on the LHS. Though these are intermittent as hidden by hedges.

2 miles from Raglan pass large farm park LHS with cafe. In raglan, pub, shop and small ford dealership.

Flatter now as criss cross the main road and you will run the old road that parallels the new road, result is that it's quite and quiet. Flat riding and views of sugarloaf mountain ahead. Take a left turn opposite pub, descend lane to go left along another A road over bridge and right (farm deli here) head along Usk River valley to Abergavenny.

Along valley to Crickowell and enter over pretty bridge, bear right just after bridge and climb to TL at TJ and into centre. 2 tearooms. Small food shop and a good deli, otherwise not much to eat.

Out along busy road, look out for the right turn and climb and quite steep, good views LHS. (If you don’t fancy the climb, carry on along the road, but it is busy) Descend , narrow lane. At road right, pass ruined tower (Tretower) LHS (can see this just before bottom of ascent) arrive at good campsite. Shop clean toilets. Farmers Arms walk to bottom of site, exit bottom RHS and walk maybe 400m, good food, most mains £9

Along the valley for the first part zig zagging back on yourself then start a pretty climb along what will be a gated lane. Lovely views in parts, at the gate next to the farm, just above this is a switchback where the view back is fabulous, really is a delight.

The descent seems shorter than the ascent and is along a lane with more houses. There is a tricky right turn but if you miss it all you do you just spend longer on the main road.

Turn of the main road quite soon (right) and you go along a quieter road that undulates gently taking you to Talgarth. We were here at 1000 on a Sunday and not a lot of choice. A co-op shop and ice cream shop next door. The info place was open with maps etc the war memorial is also very pretty.

Back on the road there is a castle on the RHS, worth a look as can climb steps round the outside.

The road to Buith Wells is Sustrans 8 that is on the east side of the Wye. It's flat and you can hear the motorbikes thundering along the valley over the river. It follows the old railway and signs remain, not least the art exhibit in 3 railway carriages. There is a tea shop here. Carry on to Buith and watch for 2 brutal short sharp climbs close to town. The first takes you up and down from a settlement, the second to the main road.

Buith Wells was an enigma. In past the show ground and over the bridge. However there seems nothing there to eat. No decent tearoom that takes the eye. On the Sunday it seemed a motorbike hangout.

In reality we used the subway/gregs just before you cross the bridge into Buith itself. We sat by the river, benches and toilets there.

Left towards Llandodred Wells. Hard climb up and long as well. Was 7 miles but felt longer. Again an enigma, a pretty and old fashioned high street. The cycle museum you pass is on the. 2 larger hotels that looked nice. Past the high street LHS to bear right descend pas station LHS there is a ALDI on the right and large Tesco on the left,

Rayadner next, flat road with some inclines. Functional town with small bike shop at the end, buy last supplies here,

Out following signs for Elan Valley resevoirs. The road initially climbs then drops

A better alternative is the Sustrans cycle path separated from traffic on the left. It’s just after leaving town Leads straight to campsite on the left.

Campsite, big field far end by river, in process of being rebuilt, good stars at night if sky clear.

Take the gate out of the campsite and follow the cycle path to the right of the road along the old railway paths. It twists and climbs through a small nature reserve and finishes just on the edge of Rhayader.

From Rhayader, there is a long climb out

Hard day now, lots of climbing and descending. We descended fast into Llanidloes where there was a fabulous tearoom with big portions half way up on the LHS . The town itself is a pretty little town, again a big climb out.

Descend to Llanbrynmair , very good cafe/shop) LHS with tables on the pavement and inside, sandwiches) From here you head along a minor road under the railway where the road goes along a valley and gets narrower. There are a few very steep ascents on this road and take care with descending at times for cars as blind corners. The last part is wickedly steep as it climbs to the A458 to go left Here you descend fast into the valley to TR along A470 to start the ascent and you will see the mountain straight ahead (Maesglase) and a valley on the right that will be the last major climb.

The climb on the A470 past the mountain on the left is hard. It’s steep and the road is busy. There is a metal barrier on the left hand side. In our group 2 walked it, the other 3 mostly cycled it, the last bit is 2 zig zags upwards through the gap and descend. After this the turn is tricky , by the Cross Foxes Inn as the road bears right you TL along a main road but immediately TR along a minor road SP Tabor, it climbs briefly, gently descends the drops fast to Dolgellau where you meander through the pretty streets.

Just before the bridge you start the cyclepath. The start is deceptive, just before the bridge and A road it looks like you are entering a public park but it is the start of a lovely cycleway all the way to the coast. The only difficult part is shortly after the start where the path goes left and you have to TR under the road to continue. It eventually reaches a toll bridge on the right (wooden) over the estuary and a pub on the left. After this you head along the estuary for about 8 miles with great views. At the end follow the path as it bears left and crosses the wooden railway bridge into Barmouth. Follow the road along the seashore and where you see the campsite RHS there is a gate that takes you over the railway.

Cross the railway and along the beachside to climb to the main road. Lovely views of the sea and distant mountains as the road heads along. The cycling is quite gentle as it undulates

A number of static caravan parks, but once you enter the National Park these disappear and there are a lot of agricultural use of the land.

Tearoom at Harlech with a great castle, a couple to choose from don't miss viewpoint just before castle LHS and the world's steepest street. The road to Harlech has kept you high so it will descend back to the shore. This then follows the water LHS as it curves to cross the causeway into Porthmadog.

Porthmadog is a full service place, lots of places to eat. The bakery by Snowdon road is amazing.

The section from Porthmadog isn’t easy. Follow the sustrans signs out and this is OK, after which yu pass by the hospital on the west side (modern building) At this point the road zig zags down to the main road. At this point you have 2 choices. Either go down to the lmain road to TR along it and go about a mile where you will see route 8 again on the right. Or you can take the track that’s signed to the right just before the zig zag descent. We tried this and it petered into what looked like a footpath at a gate, so we retraced. At home check the SUSTRANS website routing and it looked like this was OK.

The 8 then crosses the main road a few times cutting corners along quieter roads. The anomaly comes again when the 8 heads south and to the coast at Criccieth. Ignore this and follow route (8) This finishes with a climb, an abrupt left turn that descends crosses the A487, to take a lane to a quarry where you join the railway path

The final part is a cycle path to Caernarfon, labelled as (8) it starts at a quarry and is tarmacced all the way but there are tree routes that make it bumpier towards the end. It has quite a lot of variety, starting as a wide boulevard it climbs for a mile or so before dropping and with a Westerly wind is quick it runs broadly parallel to the main road on occasion running next to it, on others crossing beneath it and on the other side. More towards Caernarfon it runs parallel to the railway line. It finishes quite narrow, but drops you very close to the castle.

From here follow the signs to the campsite (brown signs)

The route to Bangor may be affected by the new bypass that was being built. This section wasn't particularly nice as it was quite highly trafficed. Route 5 was a mixture of road riding and traffic avoidance methods that Sustrans use. On the outskirts of Bangor it was difficult to decide which routes to take. We selected route (5), that was signed to Bangor and this ran straight to the centre and on the gpx trace is different to that taken here.. It does though lead straight to the High Street where there are a variety of cafes.

Exiting isn't easy. Carry on straight from the high street and at the end opposite a park TR and start to climb. After about 100 metres you go left (signed) to descend. Head left before the entrance to the big house opposite and you will loop round (passing the lifeboat and marina on the left) to pass back under the road. This is route 82 and an absolute delight, with a stream, woods and an interesting track. Don’t miss the turn back onto route 5

Heading east again on route 5 you head for Conwy. the way parallels the major road (A55) on one occasion running the pavement alongside it. One lovely section that is along a single tack lane that has been recently tarmacced through Crymlyn. Lovely views across fields to the Irish sea and Anglesea.

Through Llanfairfechan and just after the route is intertwined with the A55 as it crosses over, under and alongside on an almost purpose built path giving good elevated views. The final approach to the centre of Conwy is along a narrow path that hugs the water to reveal the castle. Carry on along and you come to a popular area where there are shops and places to eat and access to the town. There is a bakery just on the right as you go away from the seafront.

Continuing you cross the bridge (one of Three) with the castle on the right. Do a U turn and descend to the waters edge again. You are aiming to get to the left of the railway (we didn't find this) the track is not tarmacced. Follow the GPX, returning to the road at the level crossing after about 800m

Do Not Take the beach road, it was washed away a few years ago, there is a road alternative. And GPX reflects this

At Deganwy you cross the land spur to the northern side. Again a track that takes you along a narrow footpath takes you across the point at Penrhyn-sude. By this time you drop and now till Rhyll the path really does follow the coastline along promenades around Colwyn Bay, past caravan parks. You are very close to the sea nearly all the way along. Rhyll has a particularily new section and at £35 million it should be good when finished.