A 90 km (56 mile) bike ride taking in some of the best scenery of the Wye and Usk Valleys with pretty hefty climb on the way from the one valley to the other. A fine challenge for a spring day.
Gliffaes Hotel is the perfect base for some of the best road riding in the United Kingdom, quieter roads than a lot of the UK, challenging climbs and panoramic vistas to take what breath you have left, away. When friend and indefatigable cyclist, Rob Penn, suggested that as the weather was finally looking better we should blow away the cobwebs with a decent afternoon ride we both thought that this challenging loop would do the trick. Take a windproof jacket for the top of the climb.
The route follows the Usk Valley for 10 miles or so before gaining height as we follow the Hondu river all the way up and over the Eypnt before plunging steeply into the Wye Valley at Builth Wells. The next ten miles or so is lovely spin along the Wye Valley before a punchy short climb to get back into the Usk Valley and home in time for the famous Gliffaes Tea.
Leave Gliffaes on the back lanes to the village of Llangynidr. It is well worth stopping on the beautiful stone bridge that crosses the Usk to admire the view and look at the swifts swooping through the arches. We were soon on to the B4558 which runs along the valley through the villages of Talybont (good bike shop next the the Post Office here, Bikes and Hikes) and Pencelli before we joined the A40 for a short peddle into the town of Brecon. 10 miles completed. All the normal shops and services are available in Brecon, including a bike shop. Peddle through the one-way system and take the signs for Upper Chapel / Builth Wells on the B4520. The road climbs steeply past Brecon Cathedral and out of the town before a steady nine mile ride to Upper Chapel. This is a beautiful country road with oak woods clinging to the valley and sheep in the fields alongside the stream.
Upper Chapel is just a very small hamlet and it is from here that the climbing gets serious as you mount an assault to get to the top of the Eypnt. The Eypnt is a huge piece of upland Wales that divides the the Usk and Wye catchments. Once home to a hardy bunch of upland sheep farmers the land was requestioned by the then War Office during WWII. The farmers were moved off and the land has been used by the army as an infantry training area ever since. It is very exposed and windy as you come over the top. The climb to the top has sections over 12%, but the views from up here are stunning, all of South Wales’s main ridges and mountains can be seen. Pen y Fan and the Brecon Beacons to the south, the Carmathen Fans to the south west, Black Mountains to the east and the Begwyns to the north. Take in the views and catch your breadth before the decent into Builth Wells. 25 miles ridden and the major climb completed.
A fast and steep section of 6 miles through some old woods brings you quickly into Builth Wells and the Wye Valley. Go into the main street and and find the Cwtch Cafe for a very well earned break. The return leg is along the north bank of the Wye on B4567. Head out of Builth, cross the river and follow the signs for Llanddrindod Wells then New Radnor then very soon you will find the right fork on to the B4567. This is lovely stretch of the route overhung with trees and the broad river Wye on your right. Another good cafe at Erwood where you also need to fork right to Boughrood. Wind your way right handed through Boughrood on to the A470 coming into Llyswen. At the roundabout on the far side of Llyswen take the A479 up a nasty little climb at the T junction take a right then follow the road into Talgarth.
Head for the town centre. If you have not had lunch yet the Bakers Cafe in the restored mill (opposite the Spar) is fantastic, homemade bread galore. One last climb awaits you up to the pass of Mynydd Troed (the mountain shaped like a foot). If you take the main road, the A479, the gradient is not bad and affords lovely views of the Black Mountains. There is another less used lane to get to the top but difficult to find, if you download the GSX (drop me an email and I will send it to you) file to your Garmin it will lead you up that way. Once at the top get on the drops as the road sweeps down the mountain side through some gentle bends. Cruise through Cwmdu and on into Tretower. Slow down as you reach Tretower as you want to turn right signed, Tretower Court, pedal on for about half a mile till you hit the A40, turn left then 100 yards later turn right up the very last climb towards Gliffaes.
Coast through the gates and down the drive safe in the knowledge that you have more than earned your scone, cakes and sandwiches for tea on the terrace.
Gliffaes Hotel has plenty of secure bike storage as well as having a tandem for guest use and two electric bikes which can be hired. We can help with plenty of route suggestions of various lengths, both on and off road. We can also arrange for hire bikes to be here when you arrive.