North Wales has an enviable reputation for adrenaline sports, making it a weekend mecca for thrill seekers from all over the UK, but for those of us who prefer to take the scenic route rather than the most direct (which should actually read very steep and very fast) North Wales has lots to offer too. This week, we’re telling you to get ‘on yer bike!’
North Wales has an extensive cycle network and with routes to suit all ages and fitness levels, touring the region on two wheels is a unique experience. We encourage you to get on your bike and explore our natural history and architecture, make a stop (or several) for refreshments along the way and see some amazing landscapes to boot! Here’s a round-up of our favourite trails, guaranteed to please pleasure bikers and keen road cyclists alike.
1. Mawddach Trail, Gwynedd
Totally traffic free, our first route is also the most family-friendly. A none too demanding 9.5 miles in length, the Mawddach Trail runs from Dolgellau to Barmouth, and runs parallel to a disused railway line on the shores of the Afon Mawddach.
The route takes about three hours, there and back, so it’s a great choice for those looking to while away an afternoon. The path is well maintained and on the level, making it especially suited to beginners and younger children.
Bikes are available to hire at Dolgellau, and you’ll have to pay £1.00 at the toll booth at the Barmouth end. By the time you reach Barmouth, you’ll probably have built up an appetite! Luckily, this seaside town is packed with places to eat, from cheap and cheerful chip shops to fine dining restaurants. Don’t miss Barmouth Beach; it’s one of the most famous stretches of sand on the Llyn Peninsula and it’s a great spot to take a breather and rest pedal-sore feet.
2. Llandudno, Conwy
If you prefer a more taxing route, the Marine Drive that loops the Great Orme in Llandudno is a challenging and rewarding trail. Although only 4 miles long the first two miles are a steady ascent of 300m which can be tough if you’re a bit out of shape! If you do brave it, you’ll get a chance to catch your breath; the second half includes a pleasant free wheel section down to the West Shore.
Cyclists have the option to extend their route by choosing to follow the West Shore cycle path, returning to LLandudno via the villages of Glanwydden and Penrhyn Bay. A total of 15 miles, it’s a mixture of flat road and inclines, through spectacular countryside.
Whether it’s the end of the road, or just the beginning, we suggest you make a pit-stop at the West Shore. The West Shore Beach Cafe serves delicious home-cooked food, ranging from light lunches to burgers and pizzas, but the real draw is the view. Sat right on the beachfront, you can see all the way to Anglesey on a good day!
3. Betws-y-Coed, Conwy
Betws-y-coed is undoubtedly a honey-pot for visitors. A lovely little alpine-style village complete with rushing river; it’s busy, but for good reason. This trail is 13 miles long, or 19 if you choose to take a detour to Llyn Crafnant. The cycle is mostly quite leisurely, although there is quite a steep climb at the beginning of the ride. However, the area is so pretty that you won’t mind pushing your bike for a bit if you run out of puff.
Start at Betws-y-Coed Railway Station and head towards the tranquil Llyn Geirionydd. The views are beautiful and there are plenty of places to stop for a selfie with a stunning backdrop! Continue on, following the signs for Trefriw, where you can visit the Roman well. We recommend you make the detour to Llyn Crafnant, not least because it’s widely regarded Snowdonia’s prettiest. Head home following the signs for the historic market town of Llanrwst. Span the town’s famous picture postcard bridge and you’ll see signs for Betws-y-Coed to get you back to your starting point!
No trip to Betws is complete without a visit to Cadwaladers ice cream parlour. The choice of flavours is impressive so, go on, add a flake. After that ride, you deserve it!
4. Red Wharf Bay, Anglesey
This route is perfect for nature lovers and art lovers alike. Not only will you get to see a vast array of wildflowers along the way, you’ll also have an opportunity to visit one of Anglesey’s cultural treasures: the Oriel Ynys Môn Art Gallery. The trail is 15 miles long if you stick to the road, with a 3 mile detour if you choose to visit the gallery.
With views across Red Wharf Bay at the start of your ride and views of the Snowdonia mountain range towards the end, this is a pleasant and easy excursion, suitable for cyclists of all fitness levels (maximum ascent of 140m). Starting at Red Wharf Bay, follow signs for Llanfair ME (there’s a short rough section near the church in Llanfair ME) and continue on to Capel Goch, approaching Cycle Route 5.
If you plan to visit Oriel Ynys Môn Art Gallery, follow the signs after Capel Goch. It’s worth the effort as the gallery houses some beautiful collections, many concerned with the preservation of Welsh culture. If you’re peckish, there’s a good café onsite that caters for all tastes, ranging from children to vegetarians, yum!
On your return to Red Wharf Bay, stay awhile. It’s a picturesque hamlet with a good selection of shops and restaurants plus an idyllic, unspoiled beach.
If we’ve inspired you to dust off your cycling shorts and try one of our favourite routes we’d love to know what you think of it Maybe you’ve got your own personal favourite? If so, drop us a line and we’ll try it out too!