Coed-y-Brenin Mountain Bike Trail

Just back from recent trip to Coed-y-Brenin in North Wales, thought we would share with you our thoughts on this purpose built trail centre in this beautiful part of the Welsh countryside.

First off this is not my first trip to Coed-y-Brenin – four years ago I foolishly entered an XC race there and got my ass well and truly walloped, trashing my bike on lap two and a forced retirement. I vowed I would be back as there seemed to be some great riding, I did not think it would take me four years to get round to it!

Our group of four left South East England at 6am on a September morning, arriving at CyB keen and eager at around 1pm.

We stayed at a beautiful campsite around 1.5miles from the trail centre, by coincidence it was the same campsite we stayed at on our previous visit 4 years earlier. The campsite is called Cae Gwyn Farm and is run very ably by Sue and Dave who made us very welcome, even running us to and from the local hostelry each evening (thanks Sue) . We stayed in their camping barn, which sleeps 10, in errrrrr, kind of reasonable comfort (the camping beds are a little snug if you are 6′ or over), we were sharing with another group of lads from Manchester, which made things cosy but ran along OK, but no complaints at£13pp per night!

Our campsite, rated by the Guardian as one of the most picturesque campsites in the UK - I have to agree

With our gear stashed we rode down the busy A470 to the trail centre (downhill there, uphill back) a quick chat with some locals who advised us to ride Cyflym Coch (red grade,10.8km and 200m climbing) as a warm up and then onto Tarw (black grade, 20.2km, 460m climbing) straight after. We planned to ride the legendary Beast the next day so it all sounded about right.

After a bit of confusion about the markers for the trail, the local guy said look for the “squirrel” markers which in fact turned out to be a fox, although you could see the similarity, the trail was then known as the “squirely fox” trail.

So what of the riding? great little trail, rocky, not too technical with a nice flowy feel to it, we were having a lot of fun and started to ease into the weekend, next up the Tarw trail…

Through the horns for the Tarw trail

The Tarw was graded black and classified as severe, so we set off at a steady pace. To be honest the trail was a bit of a disappointment, a lot of climbing for not too much payback in the fun department. Yes it was rocky and technical, but certainly not flowy and fun, we finished the day tired but Tarw left us pretty flat, we were riding ” The Beast” the next day, if it was anything like Tarw we were less than inspired…

Saturday morning dawned warm and clear, after a breakfast of porridge and energy bars we set off once more to the trail centre and set out to tackle “The Beast”. The Beast of Brenin, to give it its full name is one of those trails that most people have heard of. We had heard a lot about it but after riding Tarw the previous days we feared it could be a disappointment. Classified as severe black, 38.2km and 1015m of climbing we certainly approached it with respect. Our first start was aborted as a group of twenty riders went up the trail slightly ahead of us, they were of very mixed ability and were off and pushing in the first 200m and to put it mildly were not too interested in getting out the way. In the interest of trail Karma and etiquette we decided to roll back to the trail centre and have a cup of tea and give them a half hour start.

You need at least one metre travel for this trail - we suspect those forks don't work...

Our second attempt saw us steadily climbing on the rocky ascent away from the trail centre and got into the rhythm of the ride. If you have ridden other trail centres, Afan in particular the general rule is spend the first half of the ride climbing, the second half descending. Coed-y-Brenin seems to be laid out a bit differently you kind of traverse the mountains, climbing and descending as you go, yes there is a fine descent at the end but the ride undulates for equal measures of pleasure and pain as you go round.

Well, the riding? From my point of view it was a massive wow! One of the best days riding I had experienced in years, there are some tricky technical bits which will test your skills, table tops and berms for styling it up and some truly sweet rocky descents that just leave you wanting more. Some of it was a bit of a blur but the sweet parts I remembered were; Pink Heifer and Able and the thrilling final combination of Gomez, Morticia, Pugsley, Lurch and Uncle Fester that had us shooting down rocky sections grinning like loons. There was a diversion in place for maintenance which caused us a bit of bother as the signposting was a bit iffy, but we sorted out a long road climb to roll into “beginning of the end” which was a fitting end to a great trail, rooty AND rocky, although one of our group managed to get lost and miss this bit out (an excuse to go back if ever there was one).

The happy crew after yet another lung bursting climb

We ended the day with a cappuccino, latte, frappé kind of frothy thing at the excellent trail centre, still buzzing from the great day’s riding and already planning our return! Surely that must be a good sign?

Will we come back? Hell yes!


One Response

  1. I really liked Sunday’s ride too at Dolen Machno, but a return with a little more in the tank would be great.
    I think Pam may well have an alter ego possibly Sue!

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