It’s 2.3km of descent, taking in steep-sided berms and a couple of tunnels under existing trails and making Cwmcarn a more attrative prospect for new riders.
Some of the best trail centre routes of the past decade have been graded blue. The Verderers at the Forest of Dean, Terry’s Belly at BikePark Wales, the blue at Swinley Forest: all offer an irresistible blend of speed and progression that encourages riders of all abilites to release the brakes.
Blues tap into the mass market of mountain biking since almost every level and age of rider can handle them; they take most of the traffic at BikePark Wales and arguably explain its success.
All the stranger then, that Cwmcarn in South Wales hasn’t had one. Two red trails and two downhill tracks serviced by an uplift attracted experienced and fit riders only, leaving the Forest of Dean, BPW and Afan Forest to tempt new riders or those not prepared for Cwmcarn’s hour-long up.
That’s all changed with the addition of a blue, called the Pwca trail. In line with the best blue trails, you can expect big berms to carry your speed, rollers to pump through, and the absence of drops or roots to catch out the inexperienced.
The Pwca, or Púca is a creature of the forest from Welsh mythology, a sprite that can shapeshift and bring both good and bad fortune, which sounds about right for a twisting, playful little mountain bike trail. It ties in nicely with the other trail names at Cwmcarn too, which all have names from folklore.
Built by Architrail and designed by Phil Saxena, the man behind the original Cwmcarn downhill track from 2003, the new blue uses the first part of the Twrch trail before detouring off before things get too techie. That creates a 3.3km loop that’s easily repeatable with a 10-minute climb at the bottom, meaning you can session the short track before progressing to the tricker trails.
Is it worth riding if you’re an experienced rider though? “I really enjoyed riding it as there are places to manual, and there are rollers to try and triple up and have a go at,” says EWS rider and South Wales local Rob Williams.
“It’s very different to the other trails at Cwmcarn, the straights are flatter and you have to pump a lot more, so it’s similar to BikePark Wales, but the corners are steeper, with vertical berms,” Rob says.
Working from the old Twrch trail must have inspired Natural Resources Wales to perform some remedial work there too, because there are plans later this year to extend it. It’s a 5.5km climb to take you back up to the top without having to touch the gruelling fire road.