Buy the OS Route Map and instructions for this route

When it comes to mtb’ing in Mid Wales, the tracks and trails of the Elan Valley tend to pull most of the plaudits. Yet, just a short distance south-east of the expansive reservoirs, built to supply Birmingham’s water, there lie some cracking hills that stretch from Radnor Forest in the north to Hay-on-Wye in the south.
This route, centred around the southern tip of the range, makes a good starter. It climbs from the one-pub village of Painscastle onto the backbone of Llanbedr Hill, cruising eastwards towards the Wye Valley before plummeting down to the banks of the Afon Edw, which it follows to Aberedw — an ideal place for lunch.
The return leg straddles the range again, this time running the gauntlet along the whole length of the ridgeline and passing the popular local landmark of Twm Tobacco’s grave along the way.
It’s probably more of a climber’s route than a downhiller’s dash. And the tone is set early on, with a long and sapping pull up onto the eastern end of the ridge. But what goes up must come down, and you not only get to run this one a second time, next time with gravity on your side, but there’s also a terrific drop past Carreg Lwyd down to Rhulen. It’s mainly grassy, but the turns are well banked, the ruts aren’t too terrifying, and there’s plenty of run-off too.
The crux comes in the middle, with a taxing climb from Aberedw up onto Llandeilo Hill. The road section’s tough, the first track, tougher, but then the ante gets upped even further as you hit the open hillside. Once up, it’s downhill all the way — well nearly — and there’s a great pub waiting for you on your return.