This two day bikepacking adventure through Snowdonia and North Wales on an ultra-hot British weekend in June. Hills, passes, narrow country lanes with tall hedges, deep woods and gravel segments are but a few of the things I'll be coming back to for sure!
Most of the cycle was on tarmac, quite a big portion (I'd say around 60%-70%) followed beautiful narrow country lanes and in addition I've put my 28" road tyres to test on some gravel parts (especially the one above the Pen Y Pas).
Day 1: Chester to Machynlleth
The tougher and more eventful of the days.
I took the train from London to Chester (about 3 hours) and then began the cycle. Although the trip started quite easy (you cycle along a straight, flat path following a river), it quite soon became obvious this trip was going to have some hills. They're not long, but they're steep and they offer a very good taster of what is to come.
A few scrambles and a coffee later I was in Snowdonia – the beautiful national park of the North Wales. Hills, narrow lanes, slate covered hedges, dense woods, more hills, more slate and steep mountain passes in the background. I cycled along quite a few A roads, but never felt unsafe (at least not anymore than cycling in London).
I made my way up Pen Y Pass. As you reach the top, there's a youth hostel and a parking lot. From there I made my way up the gravel path that walkers take when visiting Snowdon. It is totally doable on a road bike and I would highly recommend it. I cycled up to the second of the two lakes where I had a short snack and water break. The view on the way back is amazing!
From here my route crossed various passes before finally reaching Machynlleth, a small cosy town in the foothills of Snowdonia.
Day 2: The road back to London
On day two, I decided to give my legs a bit of a break (distance wise), but not hill-wise. I started the day with a long ascend up the "mountain road" that leads, well, up the mountain.
Needles to say the descend and views were epic. And a few minor hills and hedges later I was in Shrewsbury where I took the train back to London.
All in all amazing trip. Apart from the scenery, I found the Welsh people extremely friendly, welcoming and patient. Dear Welsh drivers, you are n-times better than what I experience in London on a daily basis! Not one honk, shout or unsafe overtake. Thank you for that.
I would definitely go back and highly recommend to anyone who's not been yet. Four things I would do differently next time around:
- put on wider (gravel) tyres and do more gravel
- take suncream
- wear cycling gloves
- go for more days and do less milage per day