Welsh Beach to Border - A Welsh Cycling Trip

 


 

Wales is a perfectly formed realm with the power of a spell. Taking a cyling holiday in Wales and 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.

Dates

This tour runs on any day from April to October subject to availability. Please contact the office to check availability and for a package price.

Price - £550

(Based on 2 people sharing a double or twin room)

Supplements

 

Single room supplement - £160

Single Traveller Supplement - £275

Bike hire - £90

E-Bike Hire - N/A

Additional nights - Price upon request

 

Other Info

 

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.

 

Trip Code

 

BB312

Rob's Highlights

  • 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

Itinerary

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

Arrive in Abergavenny, 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. Your welsh leisure cycling trip starts 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 Abergavenny – approx 23 miles

The final section of this fabulous ride takes you to the top of the Gospel Pass. The climb starts as you leave Hay and the effort to reach the top is worth every drop of sweat. The views from the top are magnificent and you will be able to take in the huge views and lovely scenery before being treated to a long descent down to Abergavenny. You can stop on the way for lunch in one of the pubs or for a picnic wherever takes your fancy. It is a wonderful way to end this epic journey and you will arrive back in Abergavenny having experienced an amazing four days crossing Wales. The memories of cycling in Wales will live with you for many years to come.

What's Included 

 

What's Not Included 

24 hour emergency back up support

3 nights in small & intimate hotels or B&B's

Bed & Breakfast

Luggage transfers

Meet & Greet by Bikecation rep

Trip planner with route notes and maps

 

Bike hire

Drinks

Insurance

Lunch & evening meal

 

 

 

What's Included

24 hour emergency back up support

3 nights in small & intimate hotels or B&B's

Bed & Breakfast

Luggage transfers between hotels

Meet & Greet by Bikecation rep

Trip planner with route notes and maps

What's Not Included

Bike hire

Drinks

Insurance

Lunch & evening meal

Testimonial - Centre 

 

“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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