Top 5 Mountain Biking in North Wales
Nothing comes close to the feel of a rugged tread plunging into the fresh soil of an undiscovered path, rushing through undergrowth, scaling up a rocky trail and emerging, triumphant, to be greeted by a breathtaking vista of endless coastlines and rugged, forested mountains – unless you have found your way to cosy pub at the end of it all as well, of course. With some of the world’s most beautiful untouched territory at hand, the North Wales has just about everything that an avid mountain biking enthusiast can possibly thirst for – and we’ve got five fantastic routes that you’ll just have to put on that 2014 itinerary.
Meaning “King’s Wood” in Welsh, this spectacular piece of land rolls out in true Welsh regal style, imposing and supernatural in its scale and presence. Part of Snowdonia National Park, it features several single-track courses as well as a dual-slalom course, and is a massive hit with mountain bikers across the country. Covering more than 9,000 acres, it reaches through some of the region’s most gorgeous landscape, including river valleys Mawddach, Eden, Gain, and Wen. Ranging from leisurely, one-hour treks to hardcore endeavours, there are 9 trials:
Minotaur (Loop 1)
Minotaur (Loop 2)
Like most parks, it can be enjoyed throughout most of the year, although taking precaution during winter snow falls is essential and some trails may be closed. The friendly staff at Beics Brenin offers full or half day on site bike hire.
Credited as one of the original mountain biking trails, this one feels like the real McCoy when it comes to beating the tread. A single track winding through ascending forests, dipping into serene valleys and showcasing some of the best views of Snowdonia and Gwydyr Forest, the Marin Trail is 25 miles of pure sweetness, varying from “very tight, technical and rocky to wonderfully open and flowing, from dark forest to exposed ridgelines.” Like that coveted edition of your favourite classic novel that begs to be read, this gem is just begging for a ride.
One of the most celebrated mountain bike resorts in the country and a premier site for downhill biking, Antur Stiniog is like the cup that keeps overflowing – extreme bikers will love it here. Not only can you enjoy a slight distraction with various camping, kayaking, and other outdoor activities at hand with the splendour of Snowdonia at your feet, soaring through the slopes here is an experience like no other. Formed out of the collective efforts of Blaenau Ffestiniog, the “Town that Roofed the World,” this is one of the region’s newest and continually developing resorts, and there is a lot of promise that it will keep growing and growing.
Nestled in the heart of the Coed Llandegla Forest, there are several trails here to choose from, and present a healthy variety of family-friendly options as well as bigger challenges. Starting with the easy, 3-mile Green Trail and ending with the 13-mile Black Trail (definitely one for those of a sturdy physical fitness) bikers can enjoy deep forests and towering mountain views, and it’s a great way to get the kids to discover what the beauty of Wales’ landscape is all about.
It happens sometimes – we’re on an excellent trail, feeling the buzz, pumping the adrenaline, the scenes are spectacular – and we just want to keep going. So what’s stopping you? Starting from the Dee Estuary along the National Cycle Network, you can take your wheels to the newly-completed Wales Coastal Path, hitting key locations such as Prestatyn, Rhyl, Colwyn Bay, Llandudno, Caernarfon, Llanelli and Swansea while en route through all its 870 glorious miles. Of course, you can just stay local as well – intertwined with many other cycling networks in North Wales, there is an abundance of places to discover, not only reaching into the heart of Snowdonia but along some of the finest shores and beaches of the entire continent. If your heart longs for the sea, or you simply want a change from the fortress-like mountains and forests further inland, this is the place to be, and it can be enjoyed by cyclists of various ages and levels too. Even better, the Coastal Path is home to several historic and cultural sites, so visiting a castle or partaking in a festival can become a distinctive feature of your bike trip.
There’s no excuse – with summer fast approaching, it’s time to get on the trail and discover what North Wales has to offer!