A weekend away, by bike…

With the Brecon Beacons a mere three hours ride away, have you considered taking a weekend away from it all, but on your bike instead of in your car?

People travel from all over the UK, even the world to stay in places like this. Why wouldn’t they? With mountains to climb, dozens of beautiful lakes and reservoirs to admire and towns full of independent shops, restaurants & cafe’s to visit. If you take the time, there’s a veritable goldmine of experiences to be had just a stone’s throw from our fair city.

In Cardiff we are incredibly lucky to have a stunning national park just a few hours away by bike, but best of all, we also have the Taff Trail (NCN route 8) to lead us from the hustle & bustle of Cardiff City Centre all the way to Brecon.

The National Park extends further east to west than it does from north to south. Fortunately, running parallel to the Heads of the Valleys road at the southern end of the park is NCN route 46. This will take you as far east as Abergavenny and all the way to Neath in the west.

From Abergavenny you can take NCN route 42 north to Hay on Wye, but if you are heading to Hay you could just stay on Route 8 from Brecon…

The Benefits?

Aside from having a challenging but enjoyable ride to your accommodation, you’ll save money on petrol; you’ll feel more connected to the area you are staying in and you won’t need to hire a bike when you are there —lets face it, rural Wales is not known for its public transport! Plus you’ll have ample opportunities to stop & take photos or have a coffee & cake on your way up.

It’s a 63 mile ride to Hay on Wye, but only about 50 miles to Brecon. It should take at worst 6 hours if you average around 10mph. If you leave Cardiff at around 7-8am, you’ll be there in time to check into your hotel, unpack and find somewhere to have your dinner.

The Challenges

The challenges are on two fronts —and no, we don’t really see the “getting there” part to be the challenge!

The first part is knowing where to stay that’ll offer a safe place to store your bike while you are not using it. We’re only aware of one place so far, the Bridge Cafe in Brecon that specifically mentions catering for cyclists, but there are no doubt others who do too. If you know of any or can recommend somewhere, we’d love to hear from you.

Also, if you have a hotel or B&B within the national park and you DO offer somewhere safe for us to lock our bikes, please say so on your website and perhaps, get in touch with us.

The second challenge is one of luggage. The length of your trip is somewhat dictated by how much clothing you can carry in your bag or panniers —or how quickly you can wash & dry what you do have.

We have more articles on luggage, but with efficient packing you should at the very least be able to pack for the weekend, if not longer. We would definitely recommend taking a rack & panniers over a rucksack though. It’ll make for a far more pleasant ride and of course, it reduces the wear and tear on your bottom!

Large groups

If there is a large group of you, perhaps your local cycling club needs a summer retreat, you could look for a bunkhouse. These provide an affordable option for groups of around 20. There’s a good site with a few listed on bunkhousesinwales.co.uk.

So, have you done this yourself? Whether it was with your family, your partner or a whole club, let us know where you stayed, how your ride up was and perhaps give us a few ideas for what you did. If you went for a “dirty weekend”, it’s ok, we don’t need the details…

Gavin

Bike commuter, randonneur and cat wrangler

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