Holidays involving international travel are a risky thing to book at the moment with the fast-moving spread of Covid-19, but one type of holiday stands out to us as being particularly appealing at the moment – a cycling holiday on these shores. And one destination is doing its utmost to attract every kind of rider to its road and trails – Carmarthenshire in southwest Wales.
The area is setting itself up as a destination for the sport by launching 23 road cycling routes to complement the many excellent MTB trails it already has. The road routes are available to download from Plotaroute, so you can get a GPS file to transfer to your cycling computer or fitness tracker to make it easier to follow the directions.
The routes are for cyclists of all abilities, and there are many marked as family-friendly too, thanks to short, traffic-tree trails. So whether you’re an experienced rider looking to test yourself over a serious distance, or a family of four just looking to be active on your holiday, there’s a route for you. Here are a few that stood out to us.
The beautiful Crychan Forest, near the town of Llandovery, is home to five MTB routes suitable for all abilities. The routes range from 4km to 13.5km in length and are ideal for families looking for some off-road action.
This traffic-free route runs from Bynea to Pembrey Country Park, with a total length of 21km, but can easily be accessed at various points to make for a shorter cycle if your kids aren’t old enough to complete the full distance. It’s a great ride for twitchers as well since it includes the Loughor Estuary, which is home to many wild birds, and the Wetlands Centre, featuring a flock of pink flamingos.
This long ride starts and finishes in Ammanford and is for experienced road cyclists only. The 101km route contains 2,000m of climbing, including three especially epic uphill sections – Black Mountain, the Betws Mountain Climb and the Gwrhyd Road Climb. Completing all three will reward you with fantastic views, though perhaps your biggest reward will be when you get back to Ammanford and enjoy a massive post-ride meal.
The plunging valleys in this forest provide some particularly fast and technical MTB riding, but rest assured there are also trails for beginners as well. If you are an experienced rider then try the 19km-long Gorlech Trail or black-graded Raven Trail, while families should head for the Derwen Trail. Abergorlech, which is the nearest village to the forest, is just 16km northeast of Carmarthen, so you can visit the forest for a morning of MTB before heading back into town for lunch.
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This 62km road ride starts on the coast at Pembrey Country Park and heads inland to tackle some tough climbs, with 1,000m total uphill work on the route before you get back to Pembrey. It’s a fine choice for intermediate road riders, offering a tough but not horrific day in the saddle complete with a mix of scenery and some satisfying climbs.
There can’t be many better ways to spend a couple of hours with the family than cycling this traffic-free 11km route that follows the River Amman from Pantyffynnon to Brynamman. You’ll ride through forests teeming with wildlife and enjoy views of the Black and Betws Mountains.
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Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.