Big Welsh weekender (Sun) – 17th February
Sunday morning dawned fine, a 50:50 mix of white cloud and blue sky. It wasn’t long before we were ready to leave Machynlleth. In need of food we headed to Aberystwyth, and ended up having a gourmet breakfast at the Golden Arches….. mine consisted of 2 Sausage and Egg McMuffins, with 2 hash browns and 2 Cokes… breakfast of champions!
After our nutritious al fresco breakfast (overlooking Morrisons petrol station) we headed East on the A44, and soon climbed up to the Forestry Commision centre at Bwilch Nant Yr Arian. We used the usual mountain bike trail centre changing facilities to get our riding gear on. Fortunately at wasn’t raining.
Nant is one of my favorite trail centres, and the Syfydrin trail that we would be riding is a brilliant combination of trail centre manmade singletrack and “out in the middle of nowhere” riding. Add into the mix the fact that if you get back to the visitors centre by 3pm you can see the Red Kites being fed and you can appreciate why.
Soon we were heading out of the car park and up a short fireroad climb to the start of the first bit of trail called “The Italian Job”…. no idea why it’s called that… It snaked over the top of the hill then dropped down and traversed the top of the Afon Melindwr valley. We stopped, and Lump (never having done any Welsh riding) stood there mouth open…. The view is stunning and a great way to start a ride.
We carried on past several lakes and soon we were out of the Forestry Commision centre and into real ‘out there’ Welsh scenery. More Photo and ‘look at that view’ stops ensued.
The Syfydrin trail we were following heads out to Llyn Nant Y Moch on rocky farm tracks, eventually hitting tarmac as you pass through a small village called Bont-goch. Soon after it’s back on farm tracks as you head back towards the Forestry commision land. The whole route is dotted with stunning views. Stop at everyone and it would take a lot longer that the 3-5 hours the signage at the trail centre suggests!
Soon we were back in the trail centre and several windy sections of trail got us to the short climb up and over from Llyn Rhosgoch and the Afon Melindwr valley onto a long desent that follows the side of the Nant Silo valley. You cross over at the head of the valley, and the views down it are stunning, and in the distance, the sea. Behind us we could see Red Kites beginning to circle, a look at the time and it was just before 2. We had about an hour to get back to the trail centre if we wanted to see the Red Kites feeding. We pushed on….
We headed down the side of the valley, till we hit a low point on the ridge that allowed us to drop back into Afon Melindwr. After a short fireroad descent we got to (In my opinion) one of the finest trail centre descents in Wales “Mark of Zorro”. I headed down first, stopping occasionally to make sure Lump was OK and to act as a bit of marker so he knew which way the trail went. Getting to the bottom we were grinning like Cheshire Cats….
Whoever designed the route was a bit of a sadist, as immediately after “Mark Of Zorro” you have “The Leg Burner”. This climbs back up to the head of the Afon Melindwr valley, 820ft in just over 2 miles. Looking at Strava (a ride logging website) the record up it is 12m 31s…. now how someone can go up it that fast is beyond me, but I bet he’s never had a pie and pint in his life!
35 minutes and a few breather stops later we hit the top of the climb. Now all we had was the final section of trail that descends alongside the lake by the visitor centre. We both flew down this, as we might as well use up any final bit of energy left in our legs. A quick change of clothes in the same facilities we’d used earlier and down to the visitors centre to watch the ever increasing numbers of Red Kites.
Getting a decent photo of the kites circling was almost impossible with the small telephoto lens on my camera, but one ventured across the car park as we were heading back to the car.
I can’t remember how many times I’ve ridden Nant Yr Arian, but I never get bored of it and I’ll be back for sure, and I’m 100% Lump will be making a return visit too…….