Lon Las Cymru
Cycling from Cardiff home to North Wales had been a journey I had wanted to undertake for many years. The opportunity to undertake the journey came to fruition in 2013 and I repeated it in 2015
Sustrans Route 8 (The Lon Las Trail) is graded as a challenging route and recognised as one of the toughest routes on the UK National Cycle Network. The route includes some of the most stunning landscapes in the United Kingdom.
The route follows the Taff Trail from Cardiff or a start can be made from Chepstow. The Taff Trail takes you through the rich industrial heritage of the South Wales Valleys much of it on the route of an old railway track. It then continues over the Brecon Beacons heading into the more remote areas of Mid Wales and the challenging ascents and descents of the Cambrian Mountains. Heading north the route then continues through the mountains of the Snowdonia National Park to the coastal area of North Wales and Anglesey.
Sustrans have two maps available covering the North and South sections of the route http://www.sustrans.org.uk/ncn/map/route/route-8 . They also publish a book “Lon Las Cymru” that covers the route with additional information based on starting the journey from Holyhead to a destination in either Chepstow or Cardiff.
As I intended using a Garmin GPS for route finding I looked at the CTC route planning website http://www.ctc.org.uk/journey-planner and also the Ridewithgps route planning website http://ridewithgps.com . I found from a personal choice the Ridewithgps easier to identify and navigate the route from a planning view point
I cycled the route the first time with a good friend and the aim of our trip was to stop where we wanted, relax, and enjoy the scenery. Though we did not have a set time in which to complete the journey we estimated five days for a relaxed enjoyable and memorable trip. We wanted to keep off main roads and explore the old highways and byways of Wales.
We travelled from North Wales to Cardiff Central with a free reservation for our bikes by Arriva Trains. By booking well in advance the cost of a single ticket with a reservation for the bike was £33 which we thought was a bargain http://ojp.nationalrail.co.uk/service/planjourney/search
Our plan for daily distance was:-
Cardiff – Brecon
Brecon – Rhayader
Rhayader – Dolgellau
Dolgellau – Caernarfon
Caernarfon – Home
Although camping is a feasible option with plenty of sites available en route we decided to take the B&B option. As we were not sure whether our planned stopover points would fit in with our aim of a relaxed and memorable trip we did not book in advance but had no problems with accommodation.
On both occasions I used my Dawes Galaxy which is a great bike. The only non surfaced section is between Rhayader and Llangurig where it follows the old drovers road. The alternative would be to use the A470 but I would not recommend this route with its fast moving traffic. I found the old drovers road quiet passable on my road bike and a very quiet scenic route.
The most difficult part of the route going North is between Corris and Hafod-oer near Cross Foxes (Machynlleth – Dolgellau). It is a beautiful section, remote and very steep. It was the only part of the route I had to get off and push. When you reach the top at Waenllefenn it is a lovely descent down to the A470 junction at Hafod-oer.
My only other bit of advice is to check that there are no major events en route. I had decided I my first trip I would stop at Dolgellau overnight without realising there was an Iron Man event going on that weekend. With no accommodation available I slept in a Bus Shelter near Barmouth!!
Would I do this route again, yes most definitely. Lovely scenery, friendly people, and great food. Next time I will probably camp. If you have any questions please contact me.