Cycle Routes in Mid Wales
Our Elan Valley Ride
23.3 miles. The only food stop is the cafe at the visitor centre in Elan Village after the bottom dam (toilets at 1st dam & visitor centre; bike shop in Rhayader).
Photo: lake at bottom of the big climb - you can just see the lane nearly reaching top of climb (extreme right)
From Rhayader (Rhaeadr Gwy in Welsh) cycle up the mountain road (west towards Cwmystwyth). It starts off nice and gentle, then after 1.5 miles you start one hell of a long climb for about 2 miles. The nice thing about this climb is the views you get. Take it steady (stop and look at the views back) and it is quite pleasurable! At the end of the last crash barrier on your left, stop and rest by the top waterfall (great place to cool off). The rest of the climb from here is much gentler - you've climbed out of the valley and are now on open moorland (tarmac road).
At the top you can see what we mean when we tell people that "Wales is flat - it just has lots of valleys". It's basically a plateau with deep river valleys cut into it. At least that's what we tell ourselves. England on the other hand is low land with lots of hills dumped on it! Depends whether you prefer cycling in hills or valleys!
The ride gets easier from here on. On the descent make sure you turn left down to the first reservoir (signed "Cwm Elan/Elan Valley").
Photo: upper reaches of the River Elan and the Mountain Road
At the first dam (Craig Coch) turn left and cross the dam (toilets at far end). Here you can either recross the dam and continue on down the road, or follow the Elan Trail cyclepath down the east side of Pen y Garreg reservoir, on a stone track passing the next dam.
Photo: carved bench on the Elan Trail cyclepath
When the cyclepath rejoins the road, we recommend staying on the road rather than rejoining the cyclepath. [If you've got the energy, a detour across the next bridge and up to the Clearwen dam is worth it.]
Photo: bridge between Carreg-ddu and Caban Coch reserviors
After the bottom dam (Caban Coch), turn right down to the Elan Valley Visitor Centre (cafe, toilets, info etc, open every day). From Elan Village either follow the flat(ish) cyclepath (tarmac) back to Rhayader or stay with the route over to Llanwrthwl and join the Sustrans route 8 back to the B4518 and the cyclepath to Rhayader.
Here's the map of the route (carry a paper map too)...
Sustrans Cycling Map
Mid-Wales South Cycle Map - shows on-road and traffic-free cycle paths, contours, including Elan Valley Trail, Lôn Las Cymru (route 8), and 3 day rides. Published by Sustrans. 1:110,000 scale.
We take no responsibility and give no guarantees or warranties, implied or otherwise, for the accuracy or safety of the above routes. You use these cycle routes entirely at your own risk. Please cycle responsibly and safely.
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