Mountain Biking in South Wales
With its close proximity to the M4 and an excellent variety of terrain, South Wales is a first class destination for keen mountain bikers and cyclists. Thanks to an abundance of valleys carved hundreds of millennia ago by melting glaciers, the landscape there rivals the Scottish highlands and the Peak District, while also playing home to the most spectacular stretches of coastline in the whole of Britain. Here, for visiting mountain bikers, are some of the highlights:
The Gower Peninsula and Swansea
The Gower was designated the UK’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1956, and once you’ve seen it with your own eyes you’ll understand why. Just a short journey from the city of Swansea, the Gower Peninsula features Britain’s most spectacular beaches, surrounded by dramatic, rugged cliffs and stretches of unspoilt countryside.
In and around Swansea itself, there are a number of established routes to choose from, including the adventurous terrain of the Afan Forest Park (particularly suitable for mountain biking) and the slightly less white knuckle cycle paths of North Gower, Blackpill and Gowerton.
The Upper Swansea Valley is where you’ll find the breath-taking caves of Dan-Yr-Ogof, an 11 mile cave network first explored just over 100 years ago, some of which is now open to the public. The area surrounding Dan-Yr-Ogof and nearby Pen-Y-Cae offers some exciting terrain for mountain bikers, with the “Absolute Adventure” centre offering structured activities for schools, corporate groups and families, and makes a fantastic introduction to the…
Of course, if you have a mountain bike chances are you’re looking for mountains, and in that respect the Brecon Beacons National Park takes some beating. It covers an impressive 519 square miles, stretching from the Swansea Valley (see above) to the “Book Town” of Hay-On-Wye, near the border with England. What’s more, as well as offering some of the UK’s most spectacular scenery, the Brecon Beacons are one of the UK’s most accessible mountain ranges, less than 45 minutes’ drive from both Swansea and Cardiff.
There are a number of different established routes to choose from, from the beginners’ “Yellow” routes to the very challenging “Black Route”, for only the most experienced mountain bikers. Whichever level you’re at, the Brecon Beacons really do provide a cycling experience that’s second to none.
For mountain bikers visiting from England, Cwmcarn is close to the border, less than 30 minutes from Newport and under an hour away from Bristol. It may not offer terrain quite as challenging or varied as the Gower or Brecon Beacons, but Cwmcarn is still a great day out, with forest trails, some spectacular views of the Bristol Channel, and a custom-built free ride park with jump packs, berms and wall rides.
About The Author: David Llewellyn is a freelance writer, and writes about mountain biking and general sightseeing in Wales for Wales Cottages, family and pet friendly holiday cottages based in South Wales.
Photo Credits: #1 wikimedia cc, #2, #3 Tim Day