A challenging yet picturesque cycling route is being introduced in north-west Wales, which will include pedalling the equivalent elevation of Wales's highest peak, Snowdon, more than four times. Traws Eryri (Trans Snowdonia) spans between the historic towns of Machynlleth and Conwy and offers cyclists a journey across diverse terrains and landscapes ranging from forests to valleys, open hillsides and estuaries.
The route incorporates bridleways, byways and forest tracks, and Cycling UK, a charity that focuses on promoting cycling, collaborated with organisations like the National Trust and Woodland Trust, and individual farmers to secure access permissions and reduce road cycling. But how long is the route, how long will it take you to complete, and what are some tips on getting through the journey in one piece?
Where does the Traws Eryri route go?
The trail not only offers a physical challenge but also a cultural and historical experience. Starting from Machynlleth, which was once the capital of Wales and an assembly point for historical figures like Owain Glyndŵr, almost the entirety of the route lies within Snowdonia National Park, providing cyclists with breathtaking natural scenery.
The route snakes through Eryri (Snowdonia) to its conclusion at Conwy, known for its mediaeval castle built during Edward I's invasion of Wales in the 13th century. Cyclists will also pass significant sites like Tŷ Mawr Wybrnant, the home of Bishop William Morgan, who translated the Bible into Welsh, and the slate mines of Bethesda.
“It’s a brilliant route,” said Sophie Gordon, the campaigns officer for the charity Cycling UK, which mapped out the route, its first in Wales. “The climbing is a challenge – Wales has a lot of steep hills – but it’s beautiful, a mix of different terrains and landscapes from forest to valley, open hillsides and estuary. There are amazing views.”
How long is the route?
In its entirety, the route spans 122 miles. It is expected that it will take dedicated cyclists around four to five days to complete.
Cycling UK emphasises that the route is designed for competent cyclists and recommends off-road bikes such as mountain or gravel bikes due to the varied terrain. Completing the route involves conquering a total ascent of 4,424 metres, more than four times the height of Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon), the tallest peak in Wales.
Sarah Mitchell, the CEO of Cycling UK, suggests travelling light "to get up the hills and make the most of the supply points of the local shops, pubs and tea rooms you pass by – and many of these will be off the beaten track.”
For more information on the Traws Eryri route, head to Cycling UK's website
Our top 'bikepacking' tips
Here are NationalWorld's five top tips to help cyclists successfully complete the Traws Eryri route or similar challenging cycling trails:
Prepare Physically and Mentally
Before embarking on the journey, ensure you're physically prepared for the demands of the route. Gradually build up your cycling stamina and endurance through training rides. Mental preparation is equally important; maintain a positive mindset and remember that challenging moments are part of the adventure.
Choose the Right Bike
Select an appropriate bike for the terrain. For off-road trails like Traws Eryri, opt for a mountain or gravel bike that can handle varied surfaces. Ensure your bike is well-maintained and properly fitted to you for a comfortable ride.
Pack light but essential gear such as tools, spare tubes, first aid kit, energy snacks, and hydration supplies. Adequate clothing layers, rain gear and sun protection are vital considering changing weather conditions.
Plan Your Rest Stops
Break the route into manageable segments and plan your rest stops strategically. Take advantage of local shops, pubs and eateries to refuel, rest and interact with the community. Booking accommodations in advance can also help ensure a comfortable stay along the way.
Navigation and Route Awareness
Familiarise yourself with the route using maps, GPS devices or navigation apps (a map and GPX file of the Traws Eryri route can be downloaded here). Pay attention to trail markers and signage. Having a backup navigation method, like a physical map, can be helpful in case of technical issues.