Now that the worst of the winter weather is over many of us will be getting the caravan or motorhome out of storage and getting ready for the adventures that await. More and more caravanners take their bikes with them because getting out and about by bike is often the best way to see and appreciate the surrounding areas.
If you’re new to cycling, don’t assume that this means the rough and tumble of mountain biking. Here in north Wales we’re fortunate enough to have miles and miles of family-friendly cycle tracks which are free from traffic and which will take you past historic tourist attractions or through picturesque country lanes and villages. Experienced mountain bikers will love the many off-road tracks too. Pitch up on any caravan sites in north Wales and you’re never far away from a cycle track.
Lon Eifion to Caernarfon
What better to start with than this lovely 24-mile route which is traffic free and begins near the magnificent Caernarfon Castle then, running alongside the Welsh Highland Railway and incorporating a gentle 500 foot (152m) climb over 10 miles finishes at the village of Bryncir. This route runs on a mixed surface so is probably suitable for non-beginners.
The Gwydir Trail
If you’re looking for a challenging mountain biking trail the 25 km, 2 hour Gwydir Trail with its steep climbs, technical single tracks and swooping descents is sure to thrill. Starting and finishing at Betws-y-Coed the trail takes in mainly forest roads and the awesome scenery of the mountains of Snowdonia.
The Cilcain Short
For an almost equally as challenging but much shorter ride this route, at just 5-10 km and roughly an hour long, takes you on a steady climb from the village of Cilcain up to the ridge of the Clwydian Range from where you can see Snowdonia. Once back at Cilcain call in the village pub or caféfor a well-deserved drink and a rest.
A Seafront Route
If you prefer the bracing scent of fresh seaside air, you should try this road route which starts at the Brickfields Pond in Rhyl and follows the coastal cycleway to Prestatyn. This route stretches for 20-30 km and should take around 2.5 hours. It mostly takes you on designated cycle paths, but some of it does involve riding on roads so be aware.
The Two Lake Tour
At 30+ km and taking around 4 hours to complete this one is for hard-core cyclists but the route takes you from Llanfihangel through the Clocaenog Forest up to the Alwen Reservoir. Then cycling along forest roads you eventually get to the Llyn Brenig stretch of water and back via Craig Bron Banog. Once again you have the chance to savor the magnificent scenery of Snowdonia.
The Mawddach Trail, Dolgellau
For a more family-friendly ride, the scenic and traffic free 9.5-mile trail from Dolgellau to the seaside town of Barmouth follows the path of an old railway line and takes you alongside the estuary of Afon Mawddach. There is plenty of car parking at both ends of the trail and lots of places to get food and drink. The trail is flat and well surfaced but if you fancy adding a bit of a challenging dimension you could always divert from the main path towards the Creggan Lakes nature reserve. Once you reach Barmouth you’ll be able to visit one of the many chip shops and cafés for a bite to eat and if you’re early enough you’ll have time to relax on the beach.
If you can’t bring your own bikes you’ll be happy to know that there are lots of cycle hire outlets in north Wales. For details of more north Wales cycle routes check out this link for further information.