Difficulty: Difficult (Requires Advanced Skills & Fitness)
Distance: 21 Miles or more
Maps: OS Landranger 125
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This mountain bike route of 32 miles circles Cadair Berwyn, situated at the western end of the Ceiriog Valleyin North Wales. It circles the mountain in a clockwise direction with a 50/50 split between quite country lanes and middle of nowhere feeling moors. The ride incorporates some of the best descents the area has to offer, including the Wayfarer. It’s a fun but hard ride with fantastic views, definitely one of my favourites.
1. Start from the car park in Llandrillo, by the stream running through the village, directly next to the road bridge (GR035372). From the car park turn left onto the main road. A short distance later turn right at the junction just before the little school, which looks like an old chapel. At the junction directly after take the lane on the left to start the climb out of the valley. The lane becomes steeper as it climbs then comes to a rocky track leading to a gate (GR041372).
2. Go through the gate and follow the track off to the left and climb to a farm, where the riding becomes slightly easier. Go past the farm and continue climbing straight ahead until the double track comes to a crossroad junction, with a wide track between drystone walls on the left and a grassy double track heading towards the summit of Cadair Berwyn on the right, after approx. 2/3mile (GR051375). Go straight on along the double track. The track soon bears right and continues climbing up the right hand side of a valley. Where the track descends a short way to a ford and bears left to a junction take the left hand track to stay on the rocky double track. The track continues climbing again until it descends to a stone bridge over a stream (GR072369).
3. After the bridge go through the gate to start the final, but long, part of the climb to the summit of the Wayfarer. Ignore any of the tracks off to the left and keep following the loose, rocky double track all the way to the top (GR091366). Once at the top look for a metal box underneath the plaque on the left. Inside is a book for you to make a record of your achievement. It is a good idea to fuel up at this point as the two mile descent that follows includes a bit of peddling.
4. Go straight on over the summit and through the gate at the cattle grid for a steep and rocky start to the descent. The track then flattens off for a long section of fast and rocky double track, the pedally bit. This section usually has water running down it and if it has been raining it can be very wet. Stay on the obvious, rocky trail. It eventually steepens for a very loose descent to a bridge at the 1.5mile point (GR114358). Bear right over the bridge for a short climb to a gate. After the gate is the last 1/2mile of the descent, a fast section of loose, rocky double track. At the next gate bear left to descend a short way to a lane at the bottom (GR130355).
5. Continue straight ahead on the road for nearly 3miles to crossroad junction in Llanarmon Dyffryn-Ceiriog (GR157328). On the left of the junction is a very nice pub, bike friendly with good ale and a large beer garden out the back. The one on the other side looks nice but I haven't been in it so I don't know what it is like. Whether you stop or not, you need to go straight across the crossroad and up the tarmac climb. After climbing through a few bends the lane comes to a four-way junction, with two gated dirt tracks, a short distance after the crest of the climb (GR172327).
6. Go through the gate on the right and climb the steep rutted trail straight on over the crest of the hill. The track then starts descending some big ruts that can be quite muddy, although it’s usually still rideable even in the worst conditions. Follow the track 90deg right (GR174314) and drop into the deep ruts. Soon after the track bears left and becomes a lot more fun as it descends on the off camber slate bedrock with ruts, drops and loose rocks. Go through the gate at the bottom and bear right through a stream crossing, if it’s been wet the whole area can look like a stream, and follow the track around the right hand side of the sheep pens. The track then straightens out for a flat section of double track. Go past the farms on the left and up a short climb to a junction. Go straight on through the (bodged together) gate and descend a short way to a road junction (GR178299).
7. Turn right then right again and climb the road past Pantglas Ucha to a junction with two tracks next to each other on the right (GR169297). Turn right and take the left hand track and follow the double track that soon bears right to a junction. At the junction turn right and follow the track down to Pant-y-maen farm. Turn sharp left through the farm then go straight on to a junction with a lane at the other end (GR155304).
8. Turn left and follow the lane straight on at all the junctions, then after 2miles go down a very steep hill. BE CAREFUL, there is a sharp corner 2/3rds of the way down. Seeing it at the last minute while doing 45mph is not good. Thankfully, I sustained no injuries and didn’t fall down the big drop to the stream but I pringled my front wheel and bent my forks. After the descent go over a bridge and climb to a four-way junction (GR128262). Go ahead, and slightly right, on the main road to descend to the main junction in Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant (GR124261).
9. Go straight on from the junction through Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant. Stay on the main road and go across the bridge over the river. After the bridge continue along the main road to go up a steep climb that bears right then left out of the village. After reaching the top of the climb ride to a junction with a lane on the right by a house, just as the main road starts descending (GR113259). Turn right at this junction and climb the lane. Go past the telephone box then at the next junction turn left. Climb the lane as it bears right and left before finishing at a gate leading on to the next section of off-road (GR097269).
10. Climb the rocky double track through a right hand bend to a gate at the start of a much easier section of the climb. Although it generally climbs there are a few short rocky descents as you ride up the left hand side of the valley towards Pystill Rhaeadr. At one point the grassy double track bears right and disappears into an open area of grass. As soon as the track hits the grass turn left up the short, steep slope. The double track reappears at the top. Eventually the track bears left for a straight grassy climb to a sheep pen near the top. There is a gate on the left and a stile on the right of the sheep pen. The ground on the side of the stile is usually a lot less boggy. On the other side push straight on across an unrideable bog. It doesn’t last for long. Follow the track in the same direction as the fence on the left to a junction at the far side of the bog then turn left to a gate (GR072279).
11. After the gate the trail flattens off through the saddle on the ridge and heads towards a BW marker post. After this post the grassy track descends steeply then bears right to a junction at the next BW marker post (GR068276). Follow the arrow left to descend straight down the slope. After going through a couple of switchbacks the track straight lines down the slope for a very steep section of trail. At the bottom turn left and follow the track through a rocky stream for a tight bit of singletrack right by the fence on the right. In the next field bear slightly left, away from the fence, towards a gate in the fence ahead. After the gate turn right and follow the fence down to the double track. Turn left on the double track then after a while bear right to a gate (GR065279).
12. Directly after the gate turn right and descend a short way over the grass to a gate in the corner of a field that leads to a stream crossing. Cross the stream and climb the boggy track on the other side to a junction with a double track on the opposite side of the valley (GR064268). Turn left on the double track and descend to a gate in the drystone wall that runs all the way down from the cliff face on the right. Directly after the gate take the grassy singletrack bearing right off the double track before it descends steeply. After a short, gentle climb bear right and descend on a sweet bit of singletrack through a small wood. At the far side of the wood go through the gate for fun bit of off camber slate sinlgletrack across a scree slope, be careful of the drop on the left though. This track finishes at a junction with a lane at the bottom (GR059264).
13. Turn right and follow the lane into Llangynog. At the first junction in the village turn left to the junction with the main road (GR053262). Turn right and follow the road up the right hand side of Cwm Rhiwath to the head of the valley. Don't start this climb too fast, it is a 3mile grind to the top. There are stunning views of the valley on your left to take your mind off the pain. At the head of the valley go past a track on the left then take the double track on the right, just after (GR019302).
14. Climb the double track a short way to the top of the final descent. This is a good place for a quick breather before the final run home. Descend from the top a short distance to a junction by an information board and take the left hand track. After about 3/4miles the fast, rocky double track comes to a gate at the trees. After the gate the track changes character, becoming steeper and covered with a lot more loose rocks, even more fun than the first section if you like that sort of thing. Go straight across the junction halfway down. The rocks continue until the track goes through a sharp left hand bend where the descent finishes at a ford by Blean-y-cwm farm (GR022326).
15. After the stream follow the track right through the farm. Go through the gate that leads onto a lane. Follow this lane straight on for about 2miles back all the way back to Llandrillo. Turn right at both junctions in the village then go across the bridge and turn left to return to the car park and the end of the ride.