There’s a cycling revolution underway in Carmarthenshire. The addition of 17 newly mapped routes boosts the gorgeous Welsh county’s total to 23, stretching over 1,400km – the equivalent of Land’s End to John O’Groats, or Paris to Budapest. And with legs starting at 13km, visiting castles, coastline, verdant valleys and dramatic uplands, plus a range of cycle-friendly places to stay and eat, there’s something to suit riders of all levels and interests. Here’s a handy guide to help you plan your biking break.
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Fancy yourself as king or queen of the mountains? Combine three demanding loops for a long weekend of rewarding climbs, wild landscapes and staggering vistas.
Start with the 105km Big Wilderness Adventure, heading north from the lively market town of Llandovery along the Towy Valley and through wooded RSPB Gwenffrwd-Dinas Reserve to Carmarthenshire’s ‘Little Switzerland’, the undulating shores of Llyn Brianne Reservoir. Ascend into the Cambrian Mountains past reputedly the most remote chapel in Wales at Soar-y-Mynydd, then veer south into the Teifi Valley, returning east to Llandovery.
Next up is the 101km route aptly named Big Hills & Big Views. Begin with a boost at Coaltown Coffee Roasters in Ammanford, before pedalling north to Llandeilo, where you can grab deli treats at Ginhaus. You’ll need the fuel: after following the rollercoaster road past the atmospheric ruins of Talley Abbey and through Llandovery, it’s time to tackle Y Mynydd Ddu/Black Mountain – a long, winding haul that rewards with far-reaching views followed by an exhilarating downhill hayride.
Finally, test yourself against the same roads along which competitors in the 2019 Ovo Women’s Tour raced. The 102km loop from Llandeilo takes you along the Towy Valley before tackling the Black Mountain once more – you’ll be glad to rack up the calories at Bean on a Bike’s cake counter in Cross Hands afterwards. There are more undulations as you head northwest towards Brechfa Forest before your southward return through Talley to Llandeilo and some Heavenly chocolate or ice cream.
There’s no shortage of heritage and horticulture to tempt you off your steed in Carmarthenshire, with a host of medieval citadels, exquisite gardens, sandy beaches and even Roman gold mines to discover.
First, play join the forts on a ride along the 95km Tywi Valley Tour of Castles, beginning in Carmarthen and meandering northeast along the Towy Valley, pausing at Wright’s Food Emporium in Llanarthne for picnic supplies. The landmarks come thick and fast: spy Paxton’s Tower on the skyline, then the fractured walls of Dryslwyn Castle. Flora-fanciers divert to the National Botanic Gardens and Aberglasney, before the crag-top bulk of Dinefwr Castle looms outside Llandeilo. Continue through Llandovery and onto Brechfa before looping back to Carmarthen for well-deserved caffeine and cake at homely Y Sied Coffee Shop.
Next, circle less-visited West Carmarthenshire on a 102km loop from Whitland, first heading north along undulating roads affording views towards the Preseli Hills, before veering southeast to Carmarthen. As you skirt the Towy estuary, the heritage highlights begin: Llansteffan Castle, overlooking its alluring beach, then – a little past St Clears – lovely waterfront Laugharne, the might of its castle outshone by its Dylan Thomas connections, distilled at his Boathouse museum. Returning to Whitland, discover the achievements of Hywel Dda, 10th-century King of Deheubarth, at his namesake centre.
A new selection of 12 circular routes fans out from the winsome market town of Llandovery, each with natural or historic wonders to admire: pedal to the Llanddeusant Red Kite Feeding Station to the south, perhaps, or Dolaucothi Roman Gold Mines to the northwest.