Ultimate south Wales riding

It may have BikePark Wales, Afan Argoed, Cwm Carn and Brechfa Forest. But south Wales is also home the country’s best natural riding.

>>> The ultimate Wales mountain biking roadtrip checklist

Here’s our five favourite loops…

Crug Mawr, Black Mountains

Distance: 30km/19 miles
Ride time: 4 hours +
Why ride it? Varied riding ending with some lovely flowy singletrack
Where to eat? The Bear Hotel, Crickhowell
Download: po.st/Crugmawr

From Crickhowell (Landranger 161/SO219183), take a small lane SE towards Llangenny then S to Cwrt-y-Gollen. Climb NE to Llangenny, continue N and when the road ends, keep SA to Dyffryn. A lane then leads E then N through Partrishow. Fork L onto a BW and follow this into the forest. Keep R to contour around, eventually zig-zagging upwards on forest tracks that will lead steeply up to the SW corner of the forest. Pick up the sandy singletrack that exits S then veers SW along Blaen-yr-Henbant. A gate at the bottom leads onto permissive singletrack that drops to the road. Take this L then take a track R to drop to the river then up to Llanbedr. Take the road back to Crickhowell

Preseli Hills, West Wales

Distance: 24km/15 miles
Ride Time: 3 hours
Why ride it? Amazing scenery
Where to eat? Tafarn Sinc, Rosebush
Download: po.st/PreseliHills

The Preseli Hills may not be the most exciting riding in South Wales, and they’re certainly not the biggest mountains. But what they lack in stature and technicality, they more than make up in sublime scenery and a certain mythical ambience. We love them. The main track across the summits was once a main trade route to the coast and ships bound for Ireland. Grave stones line the route, as do rocky tors including one that was raided to build Stonehenge. Nav is super easy, start at the eastern end (Landranger 145/SN075295) and follow lanes to Rosebush. A forest track lead north onto the ridge from here and all you need to do is follow it westwards home.

Rhossili and the Gower Coast

Distance: 34km/22 Miles
Ride Time: 4-5 hours
Why ride it? The western tip of South Wales with some awesome coast and fun trails.
Where to eat? King Arthur, Reynoldston
Download: po.st/Rhossili

The Gower Coast is one of the real gems of South Wales – Rhossili, at its western tip, was once voted as one of the world’s top 10 beaches! We love this loop, especially the singletrack above the beach – another one of those great rides that isn’t obvious. Start at Penmaen (Landranger 159/SS528887) and follow the ridge track NW all the way to Burry Geen. Take bridleways N to Llanmadoc and follow one of the many bridleways over Llanmadoc Hill to Llangennith. Now follow the sandy singletrack south to Rhossili then further bridleways N then E towards Reynoldstone. Climb back up onto the ridge and retrace tyre tracks home.

Sarn Helen, Fforest Fawr

Distance: 14km/9 Miles
Ride Time: 2-3 hours
Why ride it? Easy, fun route in an awesome area
Where to eat? New Inn, Ystradfellte
Download: po.st/Sarnhelen

Built by the Romans and running pretty much the full length of the country, Sarn Helen is one of the oldest and longest trails in Wales. Start in Ystradfellte (Landranger 160/SN929134), and head SW down the road to Comin y Rhos, where you turn R and cross Pont Melin Fach. Climb away and turn R onto a forest road that climbs N, then W, then NW to join Sarn Helen at SN878116. Now follow the Roman Road down over the Afon Nedd, past the standing stone of Maen Madoc to another road. Take this S, then continue SW on a track that leads onto Carnau Gwynion. Continue SW to finish.

The Long Gap, Brecon Beacons

Distance: 34km/20 miles
Ride time 4-5 hours
Why ride it? Total classic – great scenery and fun trails
Where to eat? The Star, Talybont
Download: po.st/TheGap

The Gap is generally thought of as the classic of the Brecon Beacons, and although there are a few different versions of the route, this, longer tougher one, gets our vote. From Talybont-on-Usk (Landranger 161/SO114225), follow the Taff Trail S then take signs to the Brin Ore Tramroad. At the top, follow the main ridge track SW over Bryniau Gleision and down to the road at the Pentwyn Reservoir. Take the road NW to SN035174 and fork R the Gap Road to the Gap itself. Keep SA to drop to the road head and take a narrow track on the R, NE to a x-roads and then turn R to follow lanes and BWs to Llanfrynach. More lanes SE to Pencelli, then the Canal to the finish.