Tales of the Trails: Llanwonno forest short route

Ride level Experienced cyclist
Distance 9 mi / 14 km
Type of bicycle Mountain bike
Traffic free
Circular route
Woman smiling as she cycles down a gravel track through trees

This route was created as part of Cycling UK’s Tales of the Trails project, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Cycling UK has worked with Ynysybwl Regeneration Partnership to capture the stories of residents and bring them to life with cycle trails which take people into the landscape where they happened.

This shorter route is a perfect introduction to Llanwonno forest.  It also connects places which reveal the hidden histories of the valley, from a legendary fell runner to the strength of the mining community here.

The route gently meanders up on bumpy tracks through the forest to reach the high point above Cwmaman. Take a moment to enjoy the stunning forest views before continuing to the impressive Victorian dam, a perfect picnic spot. The route then climbs briefly to re-join the outbound route, back to the start point. 

The route is primarily off-road, on bumpy double track fire roads and is best ridden on a hardtail mountain bike or gravel-adventure bike.

If you fancy a more adventurous ride, there is also a long route option.


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Daerwynno Outdoor Centre

The dedicated volunteers at this community-run outdoor activity centre offer a year-round program of activities for school children, including climbing, orienteering, canoeing, and wildlife and nature education.

St Gwynno Church

This graveyard is the burial place of legendary athlete Guto Nyth Brân or Gruffydd Morgan (1700–1737), one of the greatest runners of his time. There are many stories about him, including that he caught a hare chasing sheep or outran a bird in flight. His final feat was to run 12 miles in an astonishing 53 minutes. Upon completion of the race, he was clapped on the back in congratulations and promptly died of a heart attack.

His life is celebrated every year on New Year’s Eve with the Nos Galan road races, when a mystery runner carries a torch from Ynysybwl to Mountain Ash to kick off the races.

Church with gravestones in front

Guto Nyth Brân sculpture

This sculpture outside the pub was created by a local artist. If you look through the hole in the centre towards the church, you can see the gravestone of Guto Nyth Brân.

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