Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Bikepacking around the Elan Valley

Over the weekend Mitch and I did some bikepacking around the Elan Valley in Mid Wales. After a long drive over in the Friday afternoon bank holiday traffic we parked up by Craig Goch dam got the bikes out and set off, down side of starting here is the climb straight up onto Esgair Perfedd from the car park. mind you the descent down past the Roman Camp to the road was very enjoyable. A short climb and a further descent on road this time led us to Monks Trod, now Monks Trod is an ancient road which as the name suggests was used by 12th century monks to travel between Abbeys. It starts nicely on clearly defined track easy to navigate and ride then just deteriorates into endless bog after ankle deep bog after knee deep bog. Post ride having read further details on this route it is closed to motor vehicles and reading further it looks like it may soon be closed to all users including walkers, cyclists & horse riders, I can see why some sections are just awful to navigate. Knee deep bog pushing a heavily loaded mountain bike through waist high grass and reeds is not fun. I trust the monks had it easier in their day, I sincerely hope they did.

On the plus side for Monks Trod it was totally deserted and did result in us finding a perfect wild camp spot on the rocks above Llyn Cerrigllwydion Uchaf. We managed to find 2 fairly flat spots and set up camp whilst enjoying the sunset. Once refreshed and replenished with grub I turned in for the evening in this most remote part of Wales. Being this remote the Dark Skies were one of those take your breathe away moments, when a call of nature woke me through the night I unzipped the tent and looked up....... Wow! So many stars you could easily see the milky way with the naked eye. I only had my phone camera with me and that just couldn't capture them. If only I had my proper camera but to be honest it would have been too big and bulky to pack for the bike. Talking of pictures all the ones taken on this trip are from my new phone camera again i'm very pleased with the results.

Once off Monks Trod we traveled back along the track which skirts around Claerwen Reservoir to the Dam, we then took the track on the opposite side of the Afon Claerwen before rejoining the road until we crossed the bridge and joined the Elan Valley Trail back to the car at Craig Goch dam. All in all a good first bikepacking experience but I will never forget trudging across Monks Trod although a part of me wants to forget it!


  1. It's empty country for a reason. I am glad you chose dry weather though. In cold rain you can loose the will to live up on the Elynydd.
    Great trip Superb photos - is there no way to keep the virtual shutter open long enough to image the stars?

    1. Thanks for the comment Freddy. A thoroughly enjoyable trip, I doing the whole Ridgeway this weekend. Yeah certainly would not want to trudge across there in wet weather. I might have a look into long exposures on the iPhone there may be an app available.