‘The Pedaller' Portmeirion to Coed y Brenin, North Wales by Matt Lamy
Cycling journalist and author of 'Rides of Passage', Matt Lamy reveals a slightly surreal ride between the Italianate holiday village of Portmeirion — the filming location of the cult 1960s TV show ‘The Prisoner’ — and mountain biking mecca Coed y Brenin.
Sometime during my working life at the now-defunct Cycling Active magazine, I must have had some kind of breakdown because I found myself deciding to dress up as Patrick McGoohan and cycling from Portmeirion to Coed y Brenin. It’s actually a fun ride and well worth doing for the journey, but perhaps even more so for the venues at each end.
I started my ride at Portmeirion. Please note, cycling isn’t allowed in the village (or should that be ‘The Village’?) and if you’re going to use the site’s carpark, at least pay for entry and have a look round Portmeirion itself. It’s quite unlike anything you’d expect to find on the north-west Welsh coast: a village designed and built to resemble an archetypal scenic Italian coast town.
From here, follow the road out of Portmeirion. When you reach the main road in Miniffordd head straight over onto a narrow lane. Bear right and follow the lane as it passes through the countryside. National Cycle Network signs will take you to Penrhyndeudraeth but when you come to the junction opposite the car park you should turn left and follow the NCN up the hill. I missed the sign and turned right, ending up on the A487. It’s a fast and moderately busy road, but it’s also flat and wide so drivers pass leaving plenty space.
Eventually you will bear right and cross a bridge over the Afon Dwyryd — this is where I picked up the NCN route again and turned right, into Maentwrog and up the mother of all climbs. Keep climbing for a mile and a half then drop down slightly to Gellilydan, turn right and find the track that heads around the back of the imposing Trawsfynydd nuclear power station. I told you this was surreal — Snowdonia in the distance, nuclear power right next to you!
Leave the power station, head right onto the southbound A470 — another nice wide A-road — and follow all the way to Coed y Brenin. Alternatively, a short distance out of Trawsfynydd, pick up the NCN again on the right, and follow quieter back lanes to Coed y Brenin. Then, if you feel like cycling some more, all the trails of Coed y Brenin are just waiting to be ridden.
Be seeing you.
(To read the full 'The Pedaller' cycling adventure, click here.)