Beach to Border 4 days
From £495 March to Oct
Accommodation Type: , ,
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Easy Trip code - BB312

Wales is a perfectly formed realm with the power of a spell. To cycle across it, from the breezy beaches by the Irish Sea to the rich, rolling farmland on the English border, is to recapture the joy of cycling around Britain half a century ago.

Beach to Border is about slow cycling; it’s about reading a map, glorious countryside and lying in hedgerows watching the clouds fizz overhead. It’s about swimming in rivers and being careless with time. It’s about good company, earning an appetite, local food, quiet market towns, whizzing downhill, pints, picnics and the rhythm of two spinning wheels.

Past the crystal riffles and the gentle coils of the Ystwyth River, over the ochre-coloured Cambrian Mountains and through the ancient woods of the Wye Valley, the route follows a heavenly mix of traffic-free trails and quiet country lanes a mix that is ideal for a long ride with old friends, or an adventure with the family.

  • Pedalling along the old railway line out of Aberystwyth
  • Wild swimming in the Ystwyth River
  • The liquid trill of skylarks on the moorland in the Cambrian Mountains
  • Tea and cakes in the Elan Valley tea rooms
  • The descent along the disused railway line, through the Elan Valley to Rhayader
  • Browsing in the second hand book shops in Hay-on-Wye
  • Mist clearing on the River Wye just after dawn
  • Villages full of half-timbered houses on the lanes of Herefordshire

What people have said

“Four glorious days cycling across Wales from the beach to the English border. Swimming in rivers, lying in hedgerows watching red kites, walking round abbey ruins and eating a lot of cake. Fab scenery all the way. ”
Milly Thompson
   Dates Adult(PP)
From 1 April 2014 to 31 October 2014
From £495 March to Oct - Call for dates
£495
From 1 April 2014 to 31 October 2014
From £595 for Private Tours Available on Request
£595

Supplements

This tour is based on 3 nights in a mixture of 2*+ B&B, guest houses and small hotels. The tour is based on 2 people sharing a double or twin room. Applicable supplements to this tour are as follows on a per person basis:

  • Single supplement - £158.00
  • Bike hire - £90.00
  • Additional nights - Price upon request

Bikes provided are quality hybrid equipped with 21 gears helmet, handlebar bag, water bottle and repair kit.

Reductions

This tour offers a reduction for up to 2 children aged up to 16 sharing a room with 2 adults. The reduction on this tour is as follows per
child:

  • 1st and 2nd child reduction - £198.00

Please note: reductions are only applicable if 2 adults are sharing and are subject to availability.

Departures

This tour runs on every day between April and October upon request.

Other Information

We feel this trip is suitable for children aged 12 and over, however this is a guideline and will depend on the ability of each child.

What's included

  • 24 hour emergency back up support
  • 3 nights in small & intimate hotels or B&B's
  • Bed & Breakfast
  • Meet & Greet by a Bikecation rep
  • Trip planner with route notes and maps

What's not included

  • Bike hire
  • Drinks
  • Insurance
  • Lunches & evening meals
Download itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Hereford, transfer to Aberystwyth and ride to Devil’s Bridge – approx 19 miles

Arrive in Hereford, either by train or car, in the am. A member of the Bikecation team will meet you at midday to hand over your route notes and maps (plus your bike if you’re hiring one) answer those last minute questions, and give you a few tips. You will then be transferred by vehicle with your bikes to Aberystwyth: approximately 2hrs drive. From the Royal Pier, a surviving emblem of Aberystwyth’s heyday as a popular seaside destination, you ride south along the elegant promenade, past the fragmented ruins of the medieval castle and the marina, and out of town beneath Pen Dinas, the site of an Iron Age hill fort. There are lovely views down the coast. Turning inland, the route tracks the Ystwyth River across river meadows. Look out for kingfishers, stonechats, oystercatchers and ringed plovers near the shore. This is a delightful, gentle section and a fine beginning to your journey across Wales. For five lovely miles, you follow a dismantled railway, originally part of the Manchester and Milford line. Beyond Trawgoed, the road enters a steep-sided, heavily wooded and beautiful gorge. There are several disused mines on the far side of the fast-running, crystal clear waters of the Ystwyth: silver, lead and zinc were mined in the valley from Roman times until the industry peaked in the 18th century. The road rises to reach the once important mining village of Pont-rhyd-y-groes, the destination for today.

Day 2: Pont-rhyd-y-groes to Rhayader – approx 25 miles

Crossing the Cambrian Mountains is one of the highlights of riding Beach to Border. This is the heartland of Wales: on a clear day, the ride will brand itself onto your memory. Shortly after leaving Pont-rhyd-y-groes, the route enters the Hafod Estate, created by Thomas Johnes, a farmer, landscape architect, writer and social benefactor at the end of the 18th century. Johnes planted some four million trees and turned the house and grounds, full of waterfalls, grottoes and hanging gardens, into a place celebrated across Europe, a sort of Welsh Xanadu. The stately home fell down in the 20th century but the beauty of the landscape remains. The road passes through Cwmystwyth (according to the Ordnance Survey, the centre point of Wales) and begins to climb steadily. The reward for your hard work is a road once described by the AA as ‘one of the ten most scenic drives in the world.’ You pass the crumbling remains of various mines and assorted buildings –memorials to the peak in zinc ore mining during the 19th century. Halfway up, at Blaenycwm, the road crosses the River and you leave all forms of human habitation behind. Continuing up the Ystwyth Valley, it’s just you, a strip of tarmac and endless tussock-covered hills. Near the top of the climb, you can see the white turbines of Cefn Croes, once the biggest, and most controversial wind farm in the UK. One last pull and you’re on top of Mid-Wales. The road heads south-east, skirting a large upland bog – half earth and turf and half water. On your left is moorland, full of meadow pipits and skylarks in summer. Look up and you’re likely to see a Red Kite and perhaps a Merlin. After 4 miles, you come to a road junction. This is a great spot for a picnic, with wonderful views over the upper Elan Valley. At the first dam, you meet the cycleway – an old railway line – and follow it down the valley for a seemingly effortless nine-mile section of traffic-free path down to Rhayader. The Elan Valley was a noted beauty spot long ago (the poet Percy Shelley lived here for a while, in 1812) but it was the massive dam project, built to provide water for the people of Birmingham that put the place on the map. The dams were completed in 1904 and opened by King Edward VII. There is a busy tea room at the visitor centre below the lowest dam. The traffic-free path brings you to a B road, on the outskirts of Rhayader.

Day 3: Rhayader to Hay-on-Wye - approx 35 miles

The Wye, the fifth longest river in the UK, rises on Plynlimon, high in the Cambrian Mountains north-west of Rhayader. It is your sparkling and clear companion for the whole of today. The route rises above the right bank of the River and falls, as the topography allows. The views across the valley in summer, with the dawn mist burning off, are magical. The riding is mainly on country lanes, lanes so quiet that it comes as a shock when you arrive in Newbridge-on-Wye and cross the river. In Builth Wells, an unspoilt market town where the River Irfon joins the Wye, there are coffee shops and cafes. Continuing south, following the river through Aberedw and Llanstephan, the sides of the valley grow steeper and thick with ancient woodland. It’s a dramatically beautiful section, on a quiet B road and then a series of lanes, to Boughrood. At Glasbury, if the sun is shining, the River will be busy with canoeists and swimmers on the shingle beach below the bridge: it’s a great spot for a dip. Leaving the river, the route heads gently uphill. There are glorious views of the proud, north-facing, heather-covered heights of the Black Mountains ahead of you. For the final couple of miles, you can freewheel idly down to the welcoming book town, Hay-on-Wye.

Day 4: Hay-on-Wye to Hereford – approx 23 miles

The final section of this fabulous ride follows the lattice of lanes across rural Herefordshire, through villages full of ancient half-timbered houses. Pedalling through Bredwardine and Preston-on-Wye, there is a sense of ageless tranquillity, a laziness in the air that may encourage you to lie down in a hedgerow or on a village green and drift off. There are further glimpses of the Wye and views of the Black Mountains before you emerge from deepest countryside, on the outskirts of Hereford. You’ll be back at the train station, or reunited with your vehicle, by early afternoon. If there is time, a visit to Hereford Cathedral to see the Mappa Mundi is worth squeezing in.
Download itinerary

What people have said

“Four glorious days cycling across Wales from the beach to the English border. Swimming in rivers, lying in hedgerows watching red kites, walking round abbey ruins and eating a lot of cake. Fab scenery all the way. ”
Milly Thompson

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What people have said

“Four glorious days cycling across Wales from the beach to the English border. Swimming in rivers, lying in hedgerows watching red kites, walking round abbey ruins and eating a lot of cake. Fab scenery all the way. ”
Milly Thompson

Frequently asked questions

1. How fit do I need to be for these holidays?

Our Bikecations are designed to attract people of all ages and levels of fitness. All the holidays can be enjoyed by anyone who is reasonably fit. Some holidays involve greater distances or frequency of cycling and some will cover hillier terrain than others. Our tour gradings and itinerary descriptions should help guide you towards the most suitable holiday options for you. If you are not sure, give us a call.

2. How many miles a day can I expect to cycle?

This depends on the Bikecation you choose. These have been graded so you know what to expect. A gentle pace is about 7-8 miles per hour, so, if you cycle for four hours, you can expect to cover 25-30 miles comfortably. This leaves plenty of time for sightseeing, picnics, visiting castles or churches, stopping for morning coffee or whatever you want to do. You have all day to get to your next stopover, so you can relax and enjoy the countryside. We can also include rest days when you can enjoy other activities if you require.

3. What do I wear for cycling ?

It is important to be comfortable when cycling so we suggest wearing thin layers of clothing. Padded cycling shorts, a zipped top, windproof light jacket and trainers are standard fare. Fast drying and hardwearing synthetic fabrics are ideal as a base layer as these allow your skin to breathe and wick the moisture away from your skin to the next layer, avoiding the chill which cotton T-shirts can cause. In mid-summer you may just need shorts and a t-shirt. Safety helmets are strongly recommended on all Bikecation holidays and are a legal requirement in some countries so please bring your own helmet. We will send out a What to wear document to you well in advance of your Bikecation.

4. Are cycling holidays suitable for children?

Cycling can make an ideal family holiday, provided the right distances are chosen for the younger members of the party. We would suggest that you call us to discuss the most suitable tours for your children. In most places we are able to offer children’s bikes and child seats, if you have toddlers or babies.

5. How much luggage can I bring?

Your luggage is transported for you every day so bring what you need to make your holiday relaxing and comfortable. Please try and limit it to one item of luggage per person and that it is clearly labelled. On some tours there is a weight limit per item.

6. What happens to my luggage?

We want you to enjoy your Bikecation to the full so, for your comfort, we arrange the transportation of your luggage from one hotel to the next. The only thing we ask is that you leave your suitcases in reception on setting out each morning, and the hoteliers will ensure that it is waiting for you at your next hotel. We will provide luggage labels for you. All you need carry with you are drinks, a camera, waterproofs and sun cream.

7. Is my money safe if anything happens to Bikecation?

Your money is safe when you book your Bikecation. To protect your payments fully, all monies paid by you to us for your holiday are held in a separate Client’s Trust Account and are not released to Bikecation until your holiday has taken place. This practice fully satisfies the requirements of EC and UK law. Please call us if you would like to discuss this further.

Bikecation is also fully licensed by ATOL ( no. T7462) that is issued by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). for full details how how your payments are protected, please read our Your Financial Security page.

8. Do I need to bring my own bike? What type of bike should I bring?

We arrange for hire bikes to be provided for your holiday. However, if you would prefer to bring your own bike then by all means bring it with you, but it must be in good working order. We recommend either a hybrid or a mountain bike fitted with road tyres. If you do bring your own bike, you should insure it separately. Most household insurance policies can be extended to cover your bike whilst on holiday.

9. What happens if I have a problem with the bike or any other problem en route ?

If you are provided with a bike it will be well-maintained and serviced before being rented out so there should be no problems however, there are emergency numbers provided in the Route Notes for more complex problems.
If you have brought your own bike and you are unable to fix it, we will find you a replacement for the rest of your holiday

10. What should I do about holiday insurance?

If you choose a holiday abroad, you should have adequate insurance to cover you for medical expenses and for cancellation or curtailment of your holiday. For holidays in the UK we recommend everyone should have holiday travel insurance. Not all insurance policies cover cycling daily so we recommend Campbell Irvine. For full information, please read our ‘Trip Preparation’ page

11. Where will I leave my car for the duration of the holiday?

In most cases you can leave your car for the duration of your holiday in the car park of the hotel used for the first night’s accommodation. Where parking is not available at the first hotel, you will be advised of the alternative arrangements made for you.

12. I’m on my own – Which holidays are best for me ?

Nearly all our holidays are open to single travellers, but our Group guided holidays may be of most interest. Group holidays give you the opportunity to meet others of like mind and to enjoy cycling together. The group ‘vibe’ continues into the evening if you decide to eat together. A guide will help you appreciate the history and culture of the area you’re visiting.

13. What type of accommodation can I expect?

There is a variety of accommodation ranging from Castles and Chateaux to small boutique hotels and good quality B&Bs, thereby offering a range of different priced holidays.

14. What are the routes like?

The descriptions of our Bikecations indicate the main types of routes we use on each holiday, such as provincial roads, country lanes, dedicated cycle ways, some tracks and Casa Verdes (disused railway tracks). While we try to use quiet routes wherever possible, you should be comfortable riding occasionally in traffic. Traffic volumes can vary even on minor roads, especially in more popular tourist areas; we sometimes have to use short sections of busier roads to cross rivers or connect scenic routes, and traffic will inevitably be heavier in and near towns.

Some routes include occasional sections on unsurfaced tracks, but these don’t require any specific technical riding skills. If you are unsure of your level, or would like to know more about the cycling on specific holidays, then please do not hesitate to contact our knowledgeable reservations team.

15. Do I need to bring money for food?

All the holidays include a hearty breakfast each day. Some also include lunch and an evening meal. Where they are not included, you are free to choose where and when to eat. Some hotels will provide you with a packed lunch on request, but most people like the freedom of stopping at the place of their choice to experience the local cuisine. Some routes have been designed to incorporate gastronomic delights and will include an evening meal. Details are given with each individual tour.

16. Is it possible to extend one of the holidays from a few days to a full week?

We have the resources to design a tour to suit your requirements, incorporating rest days if desired, taking in places that are of interest to you. Give us a call and we will try to accommodate your wishes. The only constraint may be the availability of the accommodation.

17. Can you arrange flights for the overseas tours?

Flights are not included in the tour price, however we can book flights for you. Holding an ATOL licence means that if you book a tour and flight together with us you will have the added piece of mind of the financial protection offered by ATOL. If you prefer to book your own, we recommend that you wait until your tour booking is confirmed before you book any flights and booking separately means you will not be covered by ATOL. For full information on our flight services please read our Flight optionspage

18. When are the tours available?

Departure dates are shown for all tours. Please be aware that the holidays are very dependent on the availability of the selected accommodation. These have been chosen carefully, looking for a high standard to ensure you are comfortable at all times. During busy periods this is not always available, so we advise that you should book as early as possible to avoid disappointment.

What people have said

“Four glorious days cycling across Wales from the beach to the English border. Swimming in rivers, lying in hedgerows watching red kites, walking round abbey ruins and eating a lot of cake. Fab scenery all the way. ”
Milly Thompson

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