Our 5 favourite rides in our own backyard
1. Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa)
Snowdon is more an experience than a ride. But it’s still our pick as Wales’ best outing, and it earns a place in any UK Top 10. Our favourite circuit is up from Llanberis – pretty ride-able until just beyond the Halfway House. Down the Ranger Path – a twisting rock ‘n’ roll fest like no other, and over 500 vertical metres of it. And then a return over Bwlch Maesgwm and down Telegraph Valley – a slither of singletrack that contrasts sweetly with the rubble-strewn chaos of the previous section. The voluntary restriction makes it easy to line up with a sunrise or sunset and whatever your route, just being on the summit – the highest point in Wales – is probably reason enough.
Note: Snowdon is subject to a voluntary cycling restriction, so please don’t ride it between 10:00 and 17:00 between 1 May and 30 September More info here
2. Pont Scethin
The first Snowdonia ride I ever did and still my favourite away from Snowdon. It’s an intoxicating mix of wild remote cols, technical rocky singletrack, huge sea views and big climbs. Traditionally, it was ridden clockwise, but excessive motorbike erosion has made this less appealing and it’s now definitely best anti-clockwise. For the espresso dose, start in Tal-y-bont, in the west. Or for a bigger, better outing, kick off from Bontddu in the south.
3. Cadair Idris
Southern Snowdonia’s big mountain experience and quite different to Snowdon. But an amazing day out nonetheless. It’s an out and back route – with the majority being steep but ride-able on the way up, and fast and furious on the way back down. But a transformation takes place in the col beneath Cyfrwy, and a technical rocky climb (that’s mainly ride-able both ways), gives way to a carry just beneath the summit. The scenery from Cyfrwy on is quite breath-taking and you’ll want to stop and take pictures regularly. The descent starts with a push/carry (unless you’re very, very good), but the rest is just 800 vertical metres of full-on fun.
4. Llyn Cowlyd
The marmite mountain bike route! If you’re mentally prepared for it, this is a gem. Remote mountain scenery, testing sinuous singletrack and one of the best descents in the land to wrap it all up. But it’s hard won, with a fair bit of pushing and carrying, and even worse, a painful 300 vertical metre road descent. We love it, and it’s always fun to take a group on. But expectations definitely need to be managed – this is no trail centre J
5. Conwy Mountain
Snowdonia’s coastal scenery is often overlooked because of the mountains. In this case, it’s overlooked by the mountains. The northern edge of the Carneddau massif dips its toes in the sea to the west of Conwy offering great riding and incredible views. For those that like it techie, the drop from Llangelynnin Church to Rowen is peach – steep rocky steps and a fun switchback – but the rest is more straightforward, although seriously hilly. Best ridden when the heather is out but fun all-year round.
Tom Hutton is the owner, head guide and coffee maker at Tom Hutton MTB Guiding. He has been a mountain bike guide, photographer and journalist for 20 years, providing the pull-out route guides in mbr magazine for 19 of those and well as classic route guides for Singletrack magazine. He has also written a number of guidebooks.