Over the October Half Term, two of our families travelled to North Wales to sample some of the fantastic riding available. Here are their reports:
Coed y Brenin Review
by Ben and Peter Donald
Coed y Brenin is in north west Wales, in the Snowdonia National Park. There are lots of trails and paths to walk, there is also a very cool visitors centre and café. You can rent bikes and running shoes and there is a shop for when you break your bike! They even lend you tools.
The skills area is brilliant and has a flowy bermy and rollable jumps area. There are 3 drop off tracks, blue red and black. Blue the easiest and black the hardest. Red is in between. I would suggest going for a quick whizz on the skills area so get a feel for the trails and grades before riding the trails.
We rode all the blues and reds. We started with the blue which had a few little drops and rollable jumps and flowing berms. At the start is single track, but there are a few junctions but the trails are clearly marked. There are also Minataurs and their metal footprints in the rocks. Dad rode the Tarw Du and said it was definitely a proper black!
The ‘Orange Fox’ red is longer but less technical than the ‘purple apple’ red. The first section of the ‘purple apple’ is really quite rocky and technical.. but if you can do this bit you should be okay on the rest of it. Watch out the very steep rock garden and rooty section at the very end.
Overall it is a good trail centre and we recommend going there.
We were wondering about riding Snowdon and found out that you can’t ride from 10am - 5pm from 1st May - 30th September.
Penmachno and Gwydir Mawr (Marin) Trails Review
by Lucy and Katie Allsop
We camped near Betws-y-Coed, which was perfect for riding these two trails, as they were only a few minutes away. Both Penmachno and Gwydir Mawr are not really trail centres, but are both long, marked trails. They feel more wild than most trail centres, and we only saw one or two other people on either of them.
Penmachno has two loops, and we rode just one of them, and this took around 3 hours. The riding is quite technical, one of the descents you are riding down a rocky stream! There is also a lot of climbing, but the views are worth it! Unlike most actual trail centres, things like drop offs and rock gardens just appear on the trail without warning, so you have to be awake and ready for anything! We would really recommend this trail, it was hard but lots of fun!
Gwydir Mawr was a whole day ride! There was 888m climbing on the 25km trail! Again, there was lots of climbing, most of it on fire roads (which could be a bit dull), but there were some amazing downhills - really tricky and rocky, and also some faster, flowy ones through the woods. We could see snow (in October!) on top of the mountains, and even rode through snow on the ground!
Both trails are classed as Red trails, but it was some of the hardest riding we've done. So we would definitely recommend being fit, and being ready for a Welsh adventure. And maybe don't ride them in the middle of winter!