This was a weekend trip to North Wales, staying at the Welsh Long House with Hit The Hills.
I set off from Stroud in the early evening with an open mind as to the possible snow adventure that lay ahead. I’d already had a text message saying that some roads were impassable. Morrisons at Leominster was my last chance for a snow shovel. I settled on a very nice dustpan kit and a soft yard brush. At the checkout I was told that they did have shovels. Somewhere. Once.
Rising up from Kington then a clear pattern emerged: increasing elevation, lowering of temperature, rain to sleet to snow. Dropping down the other side and the snow turned back to sleet and then rain. This pattern was repeated for all three significant hills. I could have avoided the fourth, but with three successes couldn’t resist a fourth.
The Dolgellau bypass was closed so the old road was used. Near the centre of town a deluge was pouring down from a side road. See the video. In the deepest section there was a large thud as rocks or ice or something hit the underside of the car. The next flood looked impassable but I noticed a vehicle taking a line up into the council offices. A handy back entrance dumped me onto the road the other side of the floods. Result.
But wait! It wasn’t over yet. The main road out of town had a large flood across it with a broken down van in the middle. I decided to hit this at a decent pace and hope to plough through. When the headlights went out then I thought the end had happened. Turns out that it was just the bow wave covering them because I made it out the other side and the car still worked.
Those who had made it to the long house were very suprised to see me. One of our party had abandoned the trip a few hours before me and returned home. Two had stopped in a pub at Dolgellau to wait for the flood to subside. Kristian from Hit The Hills had the evening meal ready to go so I was soon stuffing my face with a freshly prepared meal.
The Welsh Long House is definitely the most impressive accommodation we’ve stayed in under the “bunk barn” category. Fully restored, large lounge with fire, large kitchen, bedrooms upstairs and a bike shed on the side.
After the big breakfast our plan for Saturday was to ride up to CoedyBrenin, meet our backup group who were staying at a remote bunk barn, do the Beast and then ride back. We took a series of back lanes up the valley to get there. Our rendezvous was at the highest point of the route and the lanes turned icy at the top.
With the full group we retraced our steps along the icy lanes until the point where the beast trail crosses over. After an hour or so of gingerly riding on icy roads it was a massive contrast to be pumping the bike flat out on a twisty section of trail. Maybe it was this, or maybe the trail at Coed y brenin really is very good. The rest of the party seemed to rate it too. It was good to be back on the Stumper Jumper – thanks to Leisure Lakes Cheltenham for fixing that and put into practice some skills from a session with Pedal Progression the previous day.
We approximately followed the Beast route round to the visitor centre, stopped for a cup of tea and then continued to the most Southern point of the route. Here most of the original party opted to return to base, the backup party took the road and two of us finished the job off by continuing with the next Beast climb and one more descent.
With all that finished we just had a few miles of lane back to the Long House. The toll of cold and exertion got to me – about a mile before the end I started pedalling for a small hill and there was nothing there. So I had to stop for a sit down for a few minutes.
Back at base we had afternoon tea and cakes on hand from Kristian.
Coedybrenin ride map OS Map, GPX. See www.bikehike.co.uk for a great way to create and view maps. The route was 54km (33 miles) with 1560m of ascent. Also see some photos from 2011 plus a handy route guide.
On Sunday we had booked into the Dyfi Winter Warmup event at nearby Corris. This used the Dyfi forest and included one very short section of the Climach-X trail. After a road descent and a very long track climb the main loop provided two involving downhills and two uphill slogs. We opted for two loops. A really enjoyable event and we’ve kept a note of the downhill locations on our map ready to be ridden on our next trip there.
A great weekend. Thanks to everyone who came along and Kristian from Hit The Hills for providing the venue and catering.
We’ve got several club discounts at bunk barns in the Wales. See our list for details.