Don’t underestimate the severity of this complex loop

Don’t underestimate the severity of this complex Elan Valley route loop over the mountains to the west of Rhayader; it has more ups and downs than the Welsh national rugby team and provides plenty of technical interest too.

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The warm up’s quite simple: a gently rising mountain road that gets deep into the heart of the action in no time at all. But things turn tougher when you hit the dirt, first on a tough rocky track, followed by a steep and grassy affair.

The next section is pure Mid Wales — and pure quality too — as the trail traverses the remote hillside, eventually dropping easily to the shores of the reservoir.

Watch out for the puddles — they can be deep!

Getting there

Rhayader is on the A470 between Builth Wells and Llangurig. Head north from Abergavenny on the A40, or south then west from Shrewsbury, through Newtown. The car park is on the western side of town, on the B4518 towards the Elan Valley (OS147/SN965677).

Best time to go

It’s a better summer outing, but not bad in winter. The rockier sections will suffer with standing water and the softer sections obviously get softer.


Memory Map V5 OS Landranger (1:50,000)
OS Landranger (1:50,000) 147 Elan Valley & Builth Wells
OS Explorer (1:25,000) 200 Llandrindod Wells & Elan Valley


The Elan Valley visitor centre has an excellent cafe (seasonal — check first).


Morgans in Rhayader for coffee, cake, sandwiches or brekkie.

Plenty of pubs to choose from.

B&B at the Elan Valley Hotel on B4518 from Rhayader, 01597 810448.

Camping — Gigrin Farm, south-east of Rhayader, 01597 810243.

Bike shop — Clive Powell Mountain Bikes, Rhayader, 01597 811343,

Rhayader TIC, 01597 810591.

Other route options

Head north to Bwlch Nant yr Arian or west to the Doethie Valley, Coed Trallwm or the excellent Cwm Rhaeadr trail.