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Cycling in Wales
Old 01-15-2019   #1
jpa66
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Cycling in Wales

The wife and I are going to Wales in late May-early June, and want to do some cycling (biking). I've been researching this somewhat, but haven't found anything just yet.

We want to stick to roads/bike paths, but no mountain biking. We're looking at a duration of 3 to 5 days of riding, and we would need luggage transport with accommodations. Also, not a lot of hills to ride (gently rolling and one or two steeper - but not too steep - ones would be OK). While I'm much better at them than my wife, having lived in the flatlands of Chicago for the last ten years or so has gotten me out of shape for extensive climbing.

If anyone can recommend a good guided tour (with accommodations and luggage transport), I'd appreciate it.

Neither of us have been to Wales before, so we're a bit excited about going.

Thanks,
JP
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Old 01-16-2019   #2
David Hughes
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Hi,

I've thought a lot about this and can't come up with what you want because flat is not a word you apply to Wales.

Your best bet might be to take a centre and go out and about from it (that's what we do) but all I can suggest are the cycle trails from old disused railway lines and canal towpaths. Both flat to mild but I can't think where there's a 3, 4 or 5 day run of them.

There's also a few places where the coast and coast roads look good to me but you'd be cycling on the "wrong" side of the road and that worries me. Well, I know what it's like in France when I'm driving on the wrong side of the road.

Luckily, there's a lot to see in Wales if you like small towns, ancient castles and magnificent scenery.

Regards, David

PS I've gone for the flat routes but a good couple of sites to start you thinking are:-

https://www.visitwales.com/holidays-...-riding-routes and

https://www.visitwales.com/things-to...l-cycle-routes
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Old 01-16-2019   #3
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Check out Absolute Escapes in Edinburgh. They have handled several hiking trips in Scotland and England for me over the last couple years and I have nothing but good things to say. In fact, we are looking at another in April in the Lake District. I don't know if they do biking but would not be surprised.

Another company that does do bike trips throughout Great Britain and Europe is Sherpa Expeditions. Don't have any personal experience with them but have heard good things about the company.

Hope this helps.
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Old 01-16-2019   #4
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I'm afraid I'm of no use for recommending a guided tour, but South West Wales is gorgeous rolling countryside rather than mountainous. Lots of castles and pretty villages.
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Old 01-16-2019   #5
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As David says, Wales is well known for its mostly hilly terrain. If you want flat, it's largely not a good place to go. I've been to many parts of Wales and I know that it has some flat-ish parts but they always seem to be accessible only via hilly parts!

Suggestion: have you thought about hiring an electric bike? I have no idea if that's possible or how practical it would be but if you could, it'd certainly help "flatten" the hills.
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Old 01-16-2019   #6
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https://www.sustrans.org.uk/ncn/map/...t-routes-wales

https://www.sustrans.org.uk/ncn/map/...ong-distance-2
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Old 01-16-2019   #7
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From my last visit to Wales, I don't recall that much flat terrain. At least in the northern regions (Aber to Snowdonia).

Regardless, I'm envious. All my Welsh friends have moved elsewhere and I have no more excuses to visit.
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Old 01-16-2019   #8
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Who needs an excuse? I shall be back there for the first visit this year in a few weeks.

Regards, David
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Old 01-16-2019   #9
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Anyone for " Home Rule for Wales"?

I been fascinated with this prospect since it was brought up in the TV series "Doctor in The House" in the late 1960s early 1970s.
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Old 01-16-2019   #10
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Thanks for all the suggestions, folks. I did also want to clarify that when I say "flat" I mean: without steep or high-grade hills - similar to much of Ireland (or maybe even Burgundy), where we've biked before, and not Copenhagen (where we've also biked). We did a one-day bike tour in Tuscany last year, which I would call flat, but probably was more rolling hills (with one killer grade hill towards the end).

I'll check out the links that you've all posted.

And as for gear, I'm strongly tempted to bring my Rolleiflex, and will definitely be bringing my FM3a - only film for me!

Thanks again!
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Old 01-16-2019   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Hughes View Post
Who needs an excuse? I shall be back there for the first visit this year in a few weeks.

Regards, David
Also, David, what are some interesting places and things to see/do that you would recommend? (We do have a couple of ideas). We like to just take it easy and absorb the atmosphere of a place, as opposed to constantly being on the go.

Any town(s) that you'd recommend as a home base?
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Old 01-17-2019   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpa66 View Post
Also, David, what are some interesting places and things to see/do that you would recommend? (We do have a couple of ideas). We like to just take it easy and absorb the atmosphere of a place, as opposed to constantly being on the go.

Any town(s) that you'd recommend as a home base?

Hi,

My first choice would be LLangollen, lots to do around the town which is on a spectacular river with lots of white water and suicidal canoists and there's a canal for horse drawn trips to the Horseshoe Falls and the Aquaduct and the steam trains leave from the station by the river. You can also cycle along the canal towpath. Access by rail would be to Ruabon and a a short trip (bus or taxi) to Llangollen.

Next choice would be around Cadair Idris where there's lots of interesting things to see and do. But you'd be better off with a car to do the circuits of the area. Rail access to Machynlleth, Aberdovey and Tywyn and (bus or taxi to) Dolgellau. Tywyn has the coast to explore by cycle and the road to Abergynolwyn and Tal-y-llyn. There's also a narow guage railway to Abergynolwyn and some well laid out walks there. At Dolgellau there is/was cycle hire as the disused railway is now and excellent cycle track. BTW, plane spotters like Cadair Idris I have walked the dog there and stood above an RAF Hercules transporter with a fighter escort. The RAF use the area as a training ground...

On the north coast there is Conway, a walled town with a castle and easy access by rail. There's a B road running south from it that should offer a good cycle route and the town and castle could easily take up a couple of lazy days walking on the town walls and so on.

In the south I go back time and time again to Brecon and around Kidwelly. Brecon for walking and Kidwelly for the castle and Pembrey Forest and the beach.

There are castles and waterfalls and rivers to see in Wales but, again, a car would be needed. I hesitated about mentioning cars as I usually take a 4WD to Wales; some of the smaller roads can be challenging (as in terrifying). Luckily there are few and far between but you ought to be warned that they exist in places if you want to get off the beaten track...

Hope this helps you with your planning.

Regards, David
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Old 01-17-2019   #13
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Machynlleth is nice. I've stayed mostly in Tallybont and Aberystwyth (I'm usually there for University reasons). More of the activities I like are more northern from there. Never been to southern Wales (e.g., Cardiff). I get to Ireland first, then take the ferry over to Holy Head, then south to Aber (or up to Liverpool). My experience is admittedly limited. David seems to know the place well. I mean, if you're visiting places that require a 4WD vehicle....you're doing some exploration!



Borth is overlooked. Never too many people there and its laid back. Good place for birdwatching too? I like wandering up the coastline to the river's mouth (can't remember the river now), lots of sand. I always enjoy the red kite feeding at Bwich Nant Forest Park (very much).



You can find castles, stone circles, dolmens, and more by just throwing a rock and seeing what you hit. (actually, I don't recommend that: throwing rocks. Perhaps ask locals instead)
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Old 01-17-2019   #14
John Lawrence
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpa66 View Post
The wife and I are going to Wales in late May-early June, and want to do some cycling (biking). I've been researching this somewhat, but haven't found anything just yet.

We want to stick to roads/bike paths, but no mountain biking. We're looking at a duration of 3 to 5 days of riding, and we would need luggage transport with accommodations. Also, not a lot of hills to ride (gently rolling and one or two steeper - but not too steep - ones would be OK). While I'm much better at them than my wife, having lived in the flatlands of Chicago for the last ten years or so has gotten me out of shape for extensive climbing.

If anyone can recommend a good guided tour (with accommodations and luggage transport), I'd appreciate it.

Neither of us have been to Wales before, so we're a bit excited about going.

Thanks,
JP
Might be worth contacting these guys, and having a chat with them:

https://www.bikecation.co.uk/leisure...to-border.aspx

I'm not saying do the exact one in the link - but worth having a word with them to see if they have any suggestions / advice etc.

Hope this is of some help.

John
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Old 01-17-2019   #15
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A few more suggestions: Anglesey is also worth a visit, it's an island just off the north-west of the mainland, not too far from Conway that David mentioned. Beaumaris on Anglesey has a beautiful castle, although Wales has plenty of those to offer almost anywhere. The Menai Strait bridges are impressive, linking Anglesey to the mainland and the Menai Strait has some of the most treacherous waters in the UK. Harlech also has a nice castle, it was once on the coast but is now slightly inland (the coast moved, not the castle). Close to Harlech is Shell Island (which isn't quite an island!) that's also worth a visit/overnight camp, although beware that the weather there can change from idyllic to horrendous in a few minutes.

No-one mentioned the Welsh weather but in case you didn't know, it rains - a lot! I once spent a week based in a small village called Nebo (there are several Nebos, confusingly) and it was never not raining there in that week.

EDIT: In north Wales, Aberystwyth boasts the (claimed) UK's longest cliff railway - funicular - and at the top it has the (claimed) biggest camera obscura in the world. A bit of photgraphic interest, sort of! Both are worth seeing.

EDIT 2: If you do visit Anglesey, do make sure you visit Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyll-llantysiliogogogoch (I didn't make that up and I admit to copy & paste!). Reasonably obvious what its claim-to-fame is.
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Old 01-17-2019   #16
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Well, I live in North Wales and there are both mountainous routes as well as reasonably 'flatter' ones. If you look at: https://www.sustrans.org.uk/ncn/map and have a look at route 8 - there are some good purpose created routes (Bryncir to Caernarfon is an old rail track so no hills there). Much of the Meirionnydd coast is not mountainous although it has some hills to be fair but nothing extreme. Cycling is popular here and even in Snowdonia which is mountainous, but be aware that roads are sometimes narrow and not all car drivers are very patient.

I can't help you with luggage transport and accommodation but try: http://www.snowdonia-active.com who will be able to either sort this out or point you in the right direction - their cycle pages start here: http://www.snowdonia-active.com/dire...m/xact.32.html
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Old 01-17-2019   #17
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The 4WD is because we camp there a lot and my ideal campsite is a farmer's field beside a river with a water tap somewhere.

Early and late in the year we don't camp but the back roads justify the car. Last year in Wales, in Ocober, 8 inches of rain fell in a day or so and the track to the farm where we were staying was washed away in places...

The problem with Wales is that there is so much to see and do (walking, climbing and cycling) and dozens if not hundreds of places well worth a visit for a few days. They tend to be handsome small towns in some of the most magical settings imaginable. The best way to see them is to plan a long slow tour round in a large circle stopping here and there for a few days and enjoying the trip there and the town on arrival.

Regards, David


PS Beaumaris Castle looks great these days but is one of the most murderous places built but great if you like military architecture. At the other extreme; I love Bronllys castle a simple family des. res. Edit, a cultural note; "des. res." is jargon for desirable residence and is used a lot in advert's by estate agents.

PS(2) and try as I may I cannot remember that waterfall walk in South Wales that goes along the riverside and goes from one waterfall to another and another and another...
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Old 01-17-2019   #18
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Thanks again for all of your suggestions, people! They have been extremely helpful. I'm sure that I'll be able to find some kind of guided bike tour, or at least a couple of long rides.



And David, "a long, slow tour in a circle" around Wales sounds like our kind of trip. We have about 12 nights to spend there, if we want (we're still deciding upon whether to spend that much time there, or cut back a little bit, and go to the Cotswolds for a few nights).


Jan
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Old 01-18-2019   #19
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Originally Posted by jpa66 View Post
Thanks again for all of your suggestions, people! They have been extremely helpful. I'm sure that I'll be able to find some kind of guided bike tour, or at least a couple of long rides.



And David, "a long, slow tour in a circle" around Wales sounds like our kind of trip. We have about 12 nights to spend there, if we want (we're still deciding upon whether to spend that much time there, or cut back a little bit, and go to the Cotswolds for a few nights).


Jan
Nice idea but the Cotswolds are far from flat as well !
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Old 01-20-2019   #20
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Hi,


My experience of the Cotswolds is that it is pretty to drive through and pretty expensive to stay in but I have stayed there once of twice, if not more, and talking to American's stretching their budgets on retirement I came to the conclusion that what I think dear they think cheap...

Anyway, we pass through them to the Vale of Evesham and sometimes stay there and sometimes just stop for coffee, swop drivers and push on into Wales. The M50 & A40 being a pleasant route to Brecon and the Head of the Valleys a pleasant route back. That applies regardless of whether we are camping or not.

Stopping in the Vale I think of Pershore, Evesham and Tewkesbury as my main aim. Toddington and the GWRly are a great place to stop if you like sitting in the sun with your coffee and watching steam loco's. And they do a nice line in coffee and walnut cake and the car park is large and free...

Regards, David


PS To make life easy I have used the English names for all the Welsh towns I've mentioned.
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