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North Wales: A hidden cycling oasis

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As a region, north Wales remains one of the UK’s most beautiful places to ride your bike, however it’s also one of the most challenging. In this short piece I’m going to be taking a look at some of the reasons why north Wales is a hidden cycling oasis and why a trip there should be on your big ride bucket list.

Coastal road routes

If you’re a roadie looking to explore a part of the country you may never have visited but don’t want to overexert yourself too much, north Wales is one of the best places to enjoy a gentle ride along the coast.

There are plenty of pre-planned routes for you to take on at your own speed. One of my personal favourites is the short but highly rewarding link between Llandudno and Conwy. At just over two kilometres long it’s an ideal introduction and can be included in a longer ride if needed. It can be quite windy however, so make sure to pack some suitable layers.

What makes this particular part of the coast so special is the approach to Conwy. Entering through the old gates of the town you are transported back to the days of Owain Glyndŵr, as his former stronghold at Conwy castle comes into view. It’s a majestic example of what Wales used to look like and shouldn’t be missed.

Conway castle

MTB trails in Eryri (Snowdonia)

While roadies can enjoy the wonders of the coast, MTB junkies are better suited to the mountains and north Wales isn’t short of them. The Eryri national park (Snowdonia in English) is one of the largest in the country and is packed full of both natural and purpose built MTB trails.

Setting off from the quaint town of Betws – Y – Coed you can take on the famous Penmachno and Gwydir trails before settling down for tea in one of the numerous cafés dotted around the town. These jaw dropping trails will see you carve your way through the foothills of Yr Wydffa (Mount Snowdon), flying through luscious forest, while appreciating the flowing rivers and surging waterfalls.

If you prefer to ride on purpose-built trails, the Coed – Y – Brennin MTB centre is one of the best in the UK and is home to trails for all ability levels. You’ll have to make your way further south to get here however, so you may want to situate yourself in either Portmeirion or Blaenau Ffestiniog to make the most of your time there.


Gravel galore

The rapid rise of gravel racing around the world has taken Wales by storm and given it’s rural landscape it has fast become a hotbed for gravel riders in the UK. The vast stretches of forest and empty farmland trails lend themselves perfectly to newbies and veterans alike.

The best gravel race in north Wales is undoubtedly the north Wales Gravel X that takes place in April of each year. The event is a great introduction to gravel racing with two route choices: 52 or 81 kilometres. The route is relatively flat and takes you around stunning lakes and reservoirs.

Challenging climbs to conquer

In a region filled with mountains and hills it will come as no surprise that north Wales is one of the best places to tackle some legendary climbs. What may shock you is that the most iconic rise is not a hill, nor a mountain, but a road in the medieval town of Harlech.

Fford Pen Llech is the steepest road in the UK (and at one point the whole world). Featuring an average gradient of nearly 18% and a maximum pitch of 37.5%, this climb is a wall like no other in the UK and will have your legs burning despite its short length. If you’re interested in trying to take the best time on this beast of a climb, the current male record stands at 43 seconds and the female record is 1:11.

Challenge it if you dare.


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Tourist hotspots and attractions

While it’s great to know what a place has to offer on the bike, some cycling destinations can lack activities to keep you occupied once you step off it. Thankfully, north Wales is full of tourist hotspots and attractions that will keep you and the family entertained for days.

If a seaside resort is your thing, I’d recommend a day trip to the former Victorian holiday destination of Llandudno. This coastal town is home to the longest pier in Wales and features some amazing arcades plus excellent homemade donuts. You can also take a trip up the Great Orme via foot, bike, cable car or tram. If you plan on cycling up, you’ll be following in the pedal strokes of Wout van Aert and Julian Alaphilippe who battled on the climb during the 2021 Tour of Britain.

In terms of transport, your best bet for getting to north Wales is by car as the region isn’t renowned for its public transport network. While this can be frustrating, the good news is that the fabulous scenery should help any journey fly by. If you do want to visit by train, the best place to stay is over the border in Chester. From here you can catch the train to anywhere along the coast, including Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch which is found on the isle of Anglesey.

the Great Orme

If you want to visit north Wales for yourself, make sure your bicycle is insured. Pedal Cover bicycle insurance policies are designed to cover accidental damage, theft and liability cover wherever you are in the world. If you would like more information, please visit our website or give our friendly support staff a call on 0800 121 4424

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