01 November 2009

Wales and gnashes teeth: the epic hills of Abergwesyn Pass

The Abergwesyn Pass (all pics), which bucks and rolls twenty miles between Abergwesyn and Tregaron across a remote part of mid-Wales, is one of the most scenic and spectacular roads in England and Wales.

The single-track tarmac filament surfs the massive mountain breakers of Elenydd, a virtually uninhabited upland expanse slashed by lush quiet valleys.

Last Monday was perfect weather for one of the country's most knackering cycle rides, sunny and dry but not hot. The three-hour traverse includes three big climbs totalling 600m (the easternmost being the infamous Devil's Staircase). They're counterweighted by similarly precipitous roller-coaster downhills, the final catapult west into Tregaron being particularly enjoyable.

You have the road virtually to yourself - especially because, at the moment, a bridge in the middle north of Dolgoch hostel is being replaced, making the central few miles closed to traffic (which is diverted a long way round via Soar y Mynydd). You can wheel your bike across a temporary footbridge though.

Rail access is relatively convenient, though not for anyone in a hurry: you can get to Llanwrtyd Wells station on the Swansea-Shropshire line, from where it's a flat valley-floor trundle to Abergwesyn.

There are two hostels in Elenydd, both basic and remote bunkhouses accessible via very rough tracks: Dolgoch (currently closed for refurb) and Tyncornel.

If you want to get away from it all on your bike and stay on tarmac, there's no better place south of Gretna Green. Back in London, within ten seconds of cycling away from Paddington, I'd already had a close encounter with a taxi. I hope he doesn't understand Welsh.


  1. I like the way the article on the pass in the Countryfile Magazine has a 4x4 plonked slap bang in the middle of the picture.

  2. hope you did not get too wet today.