Coed y Brenin, Snowdonia
The wild west! Coed y Brenin has bike trails carved out of the rock purely for use by MTBer's. Strictly no walkers allowed. There are currently 3 proper MTB routes, the Karrimor trail, the Red Bull route and the MBR route and they're all awesome! There's even a dual slalom course near the visitor centre, if you're that way inclined.
It's possible to do all three routes in a weekend - MBR and Redbull one day and the Karrimor the other (with last MBR loop option of course - see below).
At the visitor centre you can get free maps of the routes and teas, cakes etc (not forgetting the largest portion of beans on toast you can imagine). They've even got a jet wash, so you don't need to wash you're bike in the river! Over the far side of the Karrimor someone has opened up their house, selling teas, cakes and sandwiches - this is a brilliant idea and I urge everyone to stop by for a well deserved cuppa. The only problem is that there is huge amounts of climbing straight after, so don't eat to much!
Red Bull Route
You can read all about this in various mags, but basically there are several technical sections joined with firetracks. The firetracks are wide and hardpacked so offer no interest other than a (very scenic) route between the technical stuff. The technical stuff though, is technical! There are short drop off's out of many sections too which keep things interesting. Although all the singletrack is technical, it is all rideable even if you're not a trail god.
They seem to have improved many of the more boggy tracks since I was there last, or may be it's just that it had been dry. You'll still need to take warm clothes and Porelle Dry's though if it's not a blistering hot summer day! (Especially if you ride through the "lake" that takes up the whole width of the firetrack in one section)
The Karrimor trail is the longest trail of the three that are currently open at a supposed 42km, but my computer only registered 20miles when we finished it, and we didn't take any wrong turns! The trail starts (as they all do) by doing the first bit of the Red Bull trail and then goes over to the east side of the main road. There are some good little sections of singletrack interspersed with sections of fire road. The fire road is mainly for the climbing, but you can't help but get the feeling that there is too much of the wide stuff on this ride.
By the time you've climbed several thousand feet though, and nearing the end, there is a downhill to die for! It comes just after a fast FT downhill (nearly ate it here on the bend at 42mph! ouch!) You drop down through the woods on technical singletrack, split into three sections which are just awesome!! Watch for the gates at the bottom of the first section though! This downhill is not for beginners!
The last section after the bridge is currently not worth bothering with - large amounts of climbing for not a lot of singletrack, last time I was there we switched onto the last loop of the MBR trail and rode that to the finish - nice singletrack and then an easy firetrack back to the finish.
The route also has some fantastic views and you ride over a narrow footbridge over a gorge which is lovely too. All in all, a "nice day out"!
The MBR trail is now substantially different from that shown below. It takes in the last couple of sections of the big downhill on the Karrimor (should have gone right to the top, surely only a bit more climbing?) and then another loop near the bridge over the gorge - which is excellent, although the start of the singletrack is a little muddy.
The MBR route has a lot of firetrack for the singletrack that is ridden, but the route seems to be developing every time I go there. They were even building more singletrack when I was there last so fingers crossed it will get better, still a good ride as it is though.
In conclusion, if you have never been there and were thinking about it, don't think - just get there as soon as possible!! The only problem for us southerner's is that it is such a bloody long way to go. It's still worth making an annual pilgrimage for though. As a warm up you could always try Afan Argoed in South Wales.
Garthyfog Camping & Caravan Site - Camping & Caravan Site overlooking the Mawdach Estuary with a Log Cabin.
Dolgun Uchaf - guesthouse bed and breakfast, located about one and a half miles from Dolgellau
NH 1997, 2000
One of the many short drops on the Red Bull Route
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