The Elan Valley has been a Mecca for mtb’ers since the early days. The unique cocktail of undulating rocky trails and sumptuous Mid-Wales scenery is about as good as it gets and, despite the close proximity of the principality’s finest purpose-built centres, you’ll still see plenty of fresh tyre tracks here every time you come.
The Elan Valley Visitor Centre makes an ideal starting place and also gets the day’s biggest climb out of the way early on — mainly with the help of a good tarmac surface. Crugia Bach marks the end of the struggle and some great downhill follows; firstly on a good grassy trail that loops around some derelict buildings before dropping to two wonderful water splashes. The trail traverses around the hillside above the reservoir; dropping frequently to cross a succession of small brooks and streams. From Llannerch Cawr a good drive takes over, but it’s not long before that degenerates into a loose and rocky roller coaster that traces the banks of the Afon Claerwen all the way down to the foot of the imposing dam.
Now it’s up again, steep at first and then more sensibly until a very steep bank (read walk) leads up onto a good track. Finish the climb on gravel and keep straight ahead to drop down into the forest. Now for the final fling, which is steep and slatey all the way to the road. The excitement may be over but there’s still the excellent traffic-free Elan Valley Trail to carry you easily back to where you came from.