Llanwrtyd Wells to Llandovery by Emily Chappell
Emily Chappell is a founder and director of the Adventure Syndicate, (a Cycling UK affiliated group). Although she has cycled all over the world, she grew up in Mid-Wales and here is one of her favourite road routes.
This A to B route is a great excuse to make use of the tiny and picturesque Heart of Wales line, which runs from Shrewsbury to Swansea, claims to be Britain’s most scenic railway, and frequently surprises me when I come across its stations in places that feel like the middle of nowhere. Trains run a couple of times a day, and many stations are request stops, but that only adds to its charm, and gives you the opportunity to find a nice pub or B&B in Llandovery, while you wait for your ride home.
From Llanwrtyd Wells, home to the World Bog-Snorkelling Championships, you’ll follow a quiet leafy lane towards Abergwesyn, before the road ramps up through magical mossy woodland and delivers you into a deep U-shaped valley, where the river Irfon is overlooked by craggy hillsides and a perfectly tarmacked road leads you inexorably towards one of Wales’ most celebrated climbs: the Devil’s Staircase. Get into your lowest gear the moment you see the 25% sign – once you’re across the cattle grid, the road starts steep and gets steeper, and I’ve seen many strong cyclists reduced to walking within the first few metres.
If you can make it round the second hairpin you’ll probably be OK, and it’s worth pausing to admire the view back down the valley before shooting down the equally steep descent and turning left to enjoy magnificent views of Llyn Brianne as the road twists and turns its way across the hillsides before a gentle descent along the river Towy into Llandovery.