Often overlooked in favour of the more dramatic peaks to the north and west, the Berwyn Hills pack a surprisingly hard punch in mtb terms, with riding as good as anywhere in the Snowdonia National Park.
This route begins in the small town of Llanrhaeadr-ym-mochnant, but it could just as easily be started at Llangynog, Llandrillo or Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog, if they’re easier to get to.
The opening leg sets the tone, climbing nearly 400m in the first six kilometres, and the descent is the finest of the whole ride — steep and bermed and definitely one to savour. Exquisite singletrack follows, feeling almost out of place among the sombre piles of Berwyn slate. For a brief moment you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re in Coed-y-Brenin, but then the tarmac kicks in again and you set off on another long climb up the B4391 from Llangynog. The map advertises a bridleway alternative up Cwm Pennant, but don’t be tempted unless you’ve a pioneering spirit!
Llandrillo comes around really quickly, hardly surprising after seven kilometres of downhill, although only the upper section is true bump and grind — the rest blurs by sweetly on quiet lanes. The village post office sells snacks, so take some time out here; the next seven Ks are spent on the wrong side of gravity.
This one’s totally rideable, although it’s pretty long. The Wayfarer memorial marks the end of your toils, and while it’s not downhill all the way from here, you’ve certainly broken the back of it. Enjoy the rough descent the other side, but expect a wet rear. There’s a pub and a tea room in the village — perfect prep for a couple more climbs, and a final off-road fling around the steep flanks of Mynydd Mawr.