Cycling in Mid Wales
Mid Wales is beautiful, varied, quiet, and off the beaten track - which makes it perfect for your next cycling holiday.
Elan Valley Reservoirs
The six dams in the Elan Valley were built to provide water for Birmingham, the reservoirs providing a very pleasant background for a bike ride.
Photos: Garreg-duu Reservoir; Elan Trail; water flowing over Pen-y-Garreg Dam; Pen-y-Garreg Reservoir
The road alongside the reservoirs is relatively quiet and perfectly okay to cycle on if you don't want to use the Elan Trail cyclepath which runs from the top dam all the way down the valley into Rhayader. Personally, we prefer the road - except the path (stone) between the top dam (Craig Goch) and the next dam (Pen y Garreg) which offers some really fine views. The path next to the bottom reservoir (Caban Coch), although tarmac, is rather narrow and busy. The path (tarmac) from the Visitor Centre to Rhayader is much nicer than the B4518. For more info visit Elan Valley Reservoir & Dams.
Cycling Route Idea: from Rhayader [small town; 'Rhaeadr Gwy' in Welsh] cycle up the mountain road (west towards Cwmystwyth), then down past the reservoirs. Lovely little ride (23.3 miles) so one to take slowly, stopping to admire the views. See our suggested route Elan Valley Ride (plus more photos).
National Cycle Museum
The National Cycle Museum in Llandrindod Wells contains over 260 bicycles. Located at The Automobile Palace in Temple Street. Phone: 01597 825531.
Also note the grade 2 listed Art Deco building housing the cycle museum. If you look at the inscription above the ground floor windows of The Automobile Palace (originally called 'The Palace Of Sport') you'll see that Tom Norton Ltd sold "Cycles, Motors and Aircraft" - so they had most options covered. The below photo shows the Tour of Britain passing the museum (no one stopped to exchange bikes!).
An aside: we regularly visited The Automobile Palace in the 1980s, when it was still a car showroom, to look at the Tom Norton collection of old cycles that hung above the gleaming gas-guzzlers. Sadly the Tom Norton bikes were removed from the museum in 2014 - but the museum is still well worth visiting.
The Victorian spa town of Llandrindod Wells holds an annual Victorian Festival when the townsfolk dress up in period clothes and go about their daily business (although I doubt if this lot were really about to go cycling). The 2017 festival dates are 21 to 27 August.
Bike ride idea: Sustrans' The Radnor Ring, an 84 mile circular route around the old county of Radnorshire (or just do the Route 825 part at 73 miles). The Radnor Ring map from Amazon. We will add one of our rides later.
Open All Hours
In the village of Penybont (NE of Llandrindod Wells) is the Thomas Shop - a village shop museum (admission free). What's more, it has a tearoom that every cyclist should visit (take your bike around the back). Open 10-5 everyday April to end of October; Mon-Fri other dates; closed January. Phone: 01597 851951. They also do B&B.
Trees In Winter
Winter is a great time to go cycling around looking at the shape of trees - the skeletal structure really stands out.
By the way, the yew tree in the churchyard at Defynnog (near Sennybridge) is more than 5,000 years old, which makes it one of the oldest in the UK.
A Few More Cycling Ideas
Mid-Wales North Cycle Map - shows on-road and traffic-free cycle paths, height contours, 6 town centre maps, recommended linking routes connecting the NCN with quiet roads. Includes the Lôn Mawddach cycle path between Dolgellau and Barmouth, the Montgomery Canal Greenway, and the Llangollen Canal Greenway. Published by Sustrans. 1:110,000 scale. (Also available from Waterstones.)
Mid-Wales South Cycle Map - shows on-road and traffic-free cycle paths, contours, including Lôn Las Cymru (route 8), Lôn Teifi, Elan Valley Trail, Ystwyth Trail, 6 town centre maps, and 3 day rides. Published by Sustrans. 1:110,000 scale. (Also available from Waterstones.)
Or buy the ordinary Ordnance Survey Landranger
Map from Amazon.co.uk; scale 1:50 000 (1.25 in to 1 mile),
costs £7 to £9:-
Number 147 Elan Valley & Builth Wells.
Number 148 Presteigne & Hay-on-Wye.
Number 136 Newtown & Llanidloes.
Photo: Brechfa Pool with the Black Mountains beyond (winter)
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