After another glorious day in the saddle riders will finally reach Aberystwyth, journey’s end for the inaugural Wales360.
Terrain 70% off-road, 24% on small, unclassified roads or green lanes
Estimated ride time Seven-and-a-half hours
Lowest point Sea level
Highest point 480m
Total ascent 1,400m
After just six kilometres there is around 180m of elevation to gain in short order climbing away from Llanwrthwl (on the rivers Wye and Elan). Following that, the route largely traces the contours of the land around the 465m-high Carn Gafallt as riders head west into the Elan Valley. This is a vast and beautiful area which is home to rare wildlife and plants, and some incredible feats of Victorian engineering. You briefly descend before tackling the short, steep and locally infamous ‘Puke Hill’. The good news is that the worst of the day’s climbing is already out of the way after a mere 13 kilometres.
The terrain past Caban-coch Reservoir up towards the imposing dam at Claerwen Reservoir will keep you on your toes, with lots of loose rocks and slabs to negotiate. In the shadow of the dam itself we may offer you a choice: that of riding across the river or the option to take the dry line. Climbing up to the top of the dam wall you’ll track the shoreline of the reservoir for the next 10 kilometres or so on a gravel road that undulates slightly but offers no technical challenges. You’ll be able to disengage your brain for half an hour and soak up the scenery.
The Wales360 cuts right across the Cambrian Mountains. Remote and sparsely populated they were described by writers in past centuries as the “Green Desert of Wales” – not the most promising of nicknames for one of the most beautiful, colourful and varied landscapes in southern Britain.
Leaving the reservoir behind you’ll begin to gain altitude up onto open moorland studded with small lakes (the Teifi Pools). This feels like wild untamed countryside. You’ll only climb to 450m here, but with views all the way to your destination in Aberystwyth 40 kilometres away you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re on top of the world. In fact, it might as well be as from this point it is almost all downhill to Aberystwyth.
You’ll be riding on grass for a few kilometres and if it’s been raining it could be boggy in places, pick your line carefully! Otherwise rapid progress is possible on a mix of tarmac and forest roads. The final stretch is on a cycle route (with made and unmade sections) that passes through some woodland and follows the disused railway line and the River Ystwyth into Aberystwyth itself.