Sarn Helen is a piece of ancient history. It's a ruin you can ride.
Sarn Helen is not a mountain. It’s not a forest. It’s not a trail centre. Sarn Helen is a piece of ancient history. It’s a ruin you can ride.
It’s a basis for some inspiring and demanding epic backcountry riding. We’re not talking about boring touring. We’re talking about exploration, freedom and adventure.
Total ascent: 631m
Way to go
01. Dolwyddelan (SH 735524). Head over the river towards the railway station. Just after bridge turn left at small fork. Minor lane turns into dirt track then back to tarmac. Go left at fork until meet main road.
02. A 470 (SH 755538. Left on road for 100m then turn right. Sarn Helen begins. Climb to the crossroads at Fron Goch. Go through gate and descend. Keep straight on along forest track. The trail gets stony and rougher. Keep going until the end at Miner’s Bridge on A5.
03. Miners Bridge (SH 779569). Turn immediately left away from A 5 and go up road to forest track. Stay on track (no turning lefts) until forestry depot. Go past depot and turn left when you join main track. Go up track for 100m.
04. Barrier (SH 772573). Go right through log barrier and head along grassy track. Keep following this until you reach picnic site and car park. Head down towards main road.
05. Almost at main road (SH 762576). Before main road head left and back uphill (“Craig Forys”). 300m up the hill cross a stream opposite a steep path to the left. Pleasant descending. At fork turn right through barrier and on to dirt track through lanky trees.
06. Reach tarmac (SH 753574). At tarmac turn left. Follow lane for approx 2km to Capel Tan y Garth (the first buildings you next next to the road on the left).
07. Old Chapel (SH736567). Head up behind chapel (incorrectly labelled as footpath, it’s actually a Byway). Almost immediately go through gate on to stony track. Demanding climb straight ahead to the top. At top go straight ahead at crossroads. Follow track to the forest.
08. Into the forest (SH 732548). Follow speedy forest trails all way down to Dolwyddelan. At any junction in the trail just take the downhill option. At barrier turn right at fork and descend towards village. When it forks again turn left down steep descending singletrack (avoids going into open fields).
Beics Betws – Betws-y-Coed, Conwy LL24 0AB – 01690 710 766 – www.bikewales.co.uk
From the south: M6 10A onto M54, A 5 almost all the way to Betws-y-Coed, A 470 to Dowlyddelan. From the north: M6 J20A, M56 (North Wales), A 494 and onto A 55 (Conwy), A 470 (Betws-y-Coed), A 5 briefly then A 470 to Dowlyddelan.
Best time to go
Two words: not winter. If you prefer your rides to be an firm and freewheeling as possible then avoid this route if it’s moist. Having said that, there is something rufty tufty and oddly rewarding about gurning your way around this wild feeling route in grim weather!
The Best Mountain Bike Trails in Snowdonia by Sue Savege, Dafydd Davis and Paul Barbier (Bikefax Ltd).
Siop Tandderwen (Spar), Holyhead Rd, Betws-y-Coed LL24 0AY
Y Gwydyr (pub), Glasfryn, Dolwyddelan LL25 0EJ