Cycling in Snowdonia

Touring

Croeso is the Welsh word for ‘welcome’, and the Park Authority welcomes all cyclists to Snowdonia. Everyone must see for themselves the splendours and wonders of this amazing National Park.

Snowdonia National Park is a special part of the country where people come to relax and enjoy a wide range of leisure activities in spectacular surroundings. Its landscape is unique. Nine mountain ranges cover approximately 52% of the park and include many peaks that are over 3,000ft (915m). Apart from the beauty and charm of its high mountains, Snowdonia is a delightfully varied landscape of steep river gorges, waterfalls and green valleys. Oak, ash, rowan and hazel woodlands are found scattered throughout the Park whilst the beautiful Dyfi, Mawddach and Dwyryd estuaries and twenty-three miles of coastline and sandy beaches contribute to the overall diversity of the landscape.

There are more National Nature Reserves in Snowdonia than in any other National Park in Britain, and it is home to a wealth of special habitats and fauna and flora – the Snowdon lily (Lloydia serotina, a rare arctic-alpine plant), found on the slopes of Snowdon and ‘y gwyniad’ (Corgeonus clupeoides pennantii, a fish that is unique to Llyn Tegid) are just two examples. In addition to conservation work, management work is also essential. The Park works continuously to control the Rhododendron ponticum and Japanese knotweed within the National Park. 

Considered as the backbone of Wales, the area has inherited the geological developments of the Ice Age. There are numerous U-shaped valleys, crushed scree on cliff faces and mountain lakes, all shaped by glaciers. History and culture is everywhere and the Welsh language is the mother tongue of 58.6% of the population. The landscape illustrates the history of the area through Stone Age burial chambers, Roman forts, churches, castles, slate quarries and other industrial works.Snowdonia National Park was created in 1951 and is the largest in Wales at 823 square miles or 2,176 square kilometres. It is twice the size of Anglesey, a little smaller than Pembrokeshire, making it the third largest National Park in Britain after the Cairngorms and Lake District. It’s the same size as the counties Cardiff, Merthyr, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Newport, Caerphilly and Torfaen put together. Its English name derives from its highest mountain, Snowdon. 

Standing at 1,085m above sea level, it is the highest mountain in Wales; higher than all mountains in England. On a clear day you can see as far as the Lake District and Ireland. Every year, over 6 million visitor days are spent here and in recent times, Snowdonia has become one of the most popular destinations for outdoor activities in the UK. People visit Snowdonia from all over the world to explore this dramatic and beautiful area. The area is renowned for its walking and climbing but it also has some of the best mountain biking facilities in the world.

Snowdonia

Lôn Gwyrfai

This is a multi-use recreational path created especially for walkers, cyclists and horse riders. The path leads througha variety of landscapes o ering fantastic views of the surrounding area. The path from Rhyd Ddu to Llyn y Gadair is even and wide and, therefore, is even suitable for wheelchairs. The remainder of the path has some steep sections. Luckily, there is a footbridge to cross in Beddgelert Forest. If you don’t fancy c ycling both ways, you can create a circular route by using the bus service, or the Welsh Highland Railway to bring you back to the start.

Distance: 7km / time: approx 3 hours

Marin Trail

The Marin Trail near Betws y Coed is a proper mountainbike trail in every sense. Big climbs, big descents, brilliant single tracks and truly awesome scenery make this a trailto remember. Most, but not all, of the climbs are on forest roads, giving you time to soak up the views of the mountains of Snowdonia, and all of the descents are on single track. The single track from very tight, technical and rocky to dark forests and exposed ridge lines.

Distance: 25km / time: approx 3 hours

Mawddach Trail, Dolgellau

This trail is located in the south of Snowdonia National Park and is considered to be one of the best trails in Britain, for cyclists as well as walkers. It follows the beautiful Mawddach estuary, giving visitors the chance to experience some of Snowdonia’s splendid, striking scenery and beautiful wildlife. The trail stretches for 14.5km between Dolgellau and Barmouth and can be joined at several points, including Morfa Mawddach and Penmaenpool. 

Mawddach trail also follows the track bed of the old railway line from Barmouth to Ruabon. The line was opened in 1865 and proved to be very popular with visitors; it was also used briefly to carry slate. As cars became more popular, the line became less cost-effective and was closed in 1965.The river Mawddach has been designated as an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) and a Special Area of Conservation because of the salt marsh and lowland peat habitats there. 

Distance: 15km (one way) / time: approx 2 hours 

Beddgelert Forest

Enjoy the stunning views along Snowdon and towards the Beddgelert Forest mountain biking trails. There are two loops: 

Yellow Trail- distance: 9.5km / time: approx 1 – 2 hours

Green Trail – distance: 4km) / time: approx 1 – 1.5 hours.

Penmachno Forest

The Penmachno Forest mountain biking trails are challenging with steady climbs and with spectacular views. They are maintained by the local Menter Bro Machno. There are two loops and one trail: 

Dolen Machno – distance: 19km / time: approx 1.5 – 3 hours 

Dolen Eryri – distance: 11km / time: approx 1 – 2 hours

Penmachno Trail (Dolen Machno & Dolen Eryri) – distance: 30km / time: approx 2.5 – 5 hours.

Coed y Brenin

Coed y Brenin, north of Dolgellau, is owned by Natural Resources Wales and is home to a network of fantastic hand-built, all weather, single tracks. Coed y Brenin was the first forest to be developed for the sport of mountain biking and, to this day, retains its reputation a premium location for various sports. Here, there are eight routes suitable for everyone from families and novices to rocky technical trails for expert riders. 

Snowdonia 

Off-road cycling is a relatively new activity which can rise to conflict with landowners and other countryside users alike. Like walking and horse riding, it can lead to damage and erosion on fragile upland surfaces, particularly when the ground is wet, or when large numbers of walkers and cyclists are involved.

The following voluntary agreement to remedy the problem has been negotiated between the cycling organisations, the Sports Council for Wales, Gwynedd County Council and Snowdonia National Park. 

Authority – 10am to 5pm from 1st May – 30th May

Please do not cycle to or from Snowdon during September

Full access from October to the end of April.

A pdf map, available from the National Park website, has been produced to help you plan your day with a circular route which can include an ascent of Snowdon before 10am or after 5pm. 

For more information on Snowdonia National Park, please visit the website eryri-npa.gov.uk

Written By Llinos Angharad
Snowdonia National Park Authority
snowdonia.gov.wales/authority

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