This route uses parts of the Mawddach Trail, an excellent cycling/walking track running on an old disused railway line at the edge of the beautiful Mawddach estuary. The ride also includes long segments on-road and some gentle off-road sections. Therefore, a gravel bike/cyclocross or hybrid would be ideal for this route.
Due to the virtually flat gradient and relatively smooth surfaces during the first half of the ride it would be an ideal route for a novice cyclist or family.
However, there is quite a big, long climb after the halfway point so you could just turn around and go back on the Mawddach Trail if you weren’t feeling confident about tackling the tough climb.
The route starts in the popular seaside town of Barmouth which is easily accessible by Train or Car. On leaving the town we join the Barmouth Bridge also known as the Barmouth Viaduct. At 699 metres long it is the longest timber viaduct in Wales and spans across the River Mawddach Estuary.
After reaching the other side of the Estuary we start on the Mawddach Trail. This dedicated cycling lane which forms part of the National Cycling Network Route 8, closely follows the very edge of the Estuary giving you great views across the water. Unfortunately, on the day I rode this route it was rather foggy. The trail is very flat and the gravel surface relatively smooth and well maintained so you can cruise along at a good pace.
Towards the end of the Mawddach trail there is a signpost showing the way to Coed y Brenin (7 miles), so there is the opportunity to link up some of the trails at the trail centre and make an epic all-day Mountain Bike route!.
As the trail ends we go through the pretty little town of Dolgellau where there is a Cycle Shop, Public Toilets and shops for supplies if required. The ride then takes us out of the town, joins local Cycling Route 21 and starts to gradually climb up out of the valley. This incline is classified as a Category 4 climb and can be quite steep in places but most of it follows a gentle gradient. I’m sure the views of the valley with its thick lush forests would be fantastic on a clear day, but the day I rode it they were spoilt by thick fog.
After just over a mile we reach the top of the climb and are greeted with really lovely views across Gwernan Lake with its steep valley sides covered with dense lush forest. We are also rewarded with a short descent before the road begins to gradually climb again. It’s worth noting that I saw virtually no traffic on this road which I think always adds to the enjoyment of the ride.
What also struck me about this section of the route was how smooth the tarmac was!. The road now begins to head downhill and starts a fantastic 2 mile long descent. The road passes right by Cregennen Lakes which I’m sure would provide cracking views on a clear day. Make sure your brakes are working well as the road weaves it’s way down the valley via some hairpin bends and steep gradients.
At the bottom of the descent we leave the road and get onto a gravel track which eventually rejoins the Mawddach Trail. Then it’s another pleasant, gentile ride back to the Barmouth Viaduct. I should mention there is an unmanned ‘Honesty Toll’ of £1 for adults and 50p for kids when crossing the viaduct which helps to support the continued maintenance required to keep the bridge open for public use.