Last Friday I spent exploring new trails, in and around the Rhinogau (the Rhinog mountain range) to the west of Coed y Brenin, in an attempt to link up some familiar trails for some extended mountain bike guiding.
The Rhinogs are often touted as the last wilderness in Wales – not many people walk here, almost no-one rides here (except on the southern Pont Scethin loop), and you’re more likely to meet one of the Welsh Blacks (the traditional mountain cattle) than you are another human.
There’s some great riding here but there’s plenty of boggy stuff to push through too. Mostly though, it’s old drovers’ trails (used for herding cattle to market), packhorse trails, farm and forestry tracks, and linking sections of narrow sheep trails to follow. The views remain consistently spectacular though, no matter where you are, or how deep you’re in.
As you travel south along the western side of the Rhinogs you enter Cwm Mynach – the Celtic rainforest. It lies in a hidden valley and has to be one of the most beautiful forests in Wales, mixing ancient broadleaf woodland with more recent pine forest. Lying hidden amongst the trees is Llyn Mynach – occasionally visible (and extremely tempting) as you speed past along the forest track.
At the southern end of Cwm Mynach I climbed eastwards through Bryn Erw towards Pont Scethin. A small pass near the top opens out to one of the prettiest views around, looking out across the Mawddach estuary towards Fairbourne, and from there it’s all hillside singletrack back to the valley floor.
To say it was a warm day would be something of an understatement. I went through 4 litres of fluid in the Camelbak, and continually struggled to keep cool and hydrated. The heat really affects one’s ability to think straight, and by the time I’d neared the planned final loop I was struggling to keep my mind off a nice cool beer. In the end I gave up struggling and gave in to the cravings. Anyway, the George III, with it’s views towards the estuary, has to be the best place in the whole of Britain to end a ride.
All in all, it was a great day out. I found some sweet new trails, caught the best of the second Welsh summer, and learned that sometimes even the most spectacular journey can be enhanced by its destination.
If you fancy some guided riding around the byways and backlanes of North Wales drop us a line!