Distance: 63km (39 miles)
Total climb: 1,960m (6,430ft)
Time: 4hrs 30mins to 7hrs 30mins
Mid Wales is a great place to get away from everyone and everything on some superb, remote mountain bike trails. These generally stand up well to the wet weather, but expect big puddles as well as big views.
Bwlch Nant yr Arian Forest Visitor Centre, Ponterwyd (grid refSN 718/814, postcode SY23 3AD)
Nant yr Arian is on the A44, 10 miles east of Aberystwyth. After passing the small village of Ponterwyd continue to follow the A44 for four miles, uphill. The trail centre is on the right at the top, just past the wind farm on the left.
Maps and useful books
Ordnance Survey Landranger 135: Aberystwyth & Machynlleth.
Wales Mountain Biking by Tom Hutton (Vertebrate Graphics).
The Druid Inn (01970 880650) towards Aberystwyth is very good, or try the George Borrow Hotel in the other direction (www.thegeorgeborrowhotel.co.uk, 01970 890230). There’s camping at Erwbarfe Farm Caravan Park (www.erwbarfe.co.uk, 01970 890358). Aberystwyth has lots of choice of food and accommodation – see www.aberystwyth.org.uk. The cafe at the start/end of the ride is very good, with a bike wash (01970 890453). There are no refreshments out on the route. For spares and repairs, try Summit Cycles in Aberystwyth (www.summitcycles.co.uk, 01970 626061).
Head uphill on the black-graded Syfydrin trail, along the singletrack named ‘The Italian Job’. Rejoin the doubletrack (right) and follow it to post 6. Turn right along the edge of the woods, before the road, on the return leg of the Syfydrin trail. Follow this to the end of the ‘Drunken Druid’ singletrack. Turn left on the doubletrack and then left again, leaving the Syfydrin trail and heading out onto the moor.
Cross a road and ford a stream. Follow the track down a technical descent and use the footbridge to cross the river (Afon Rheidol). Continue uphill to and left on a road to Nant-y-moch reservoir, bearing right at the fork before the reservoir. After passing a farm the road becomes a track. Continue to a fork – go left to ford the river or right for a footbridge – and keep ahead (north), with another river on your left.
Turn left, towards and past some farm buildings, uphill. Keep left on the singletrack heading downhill. Bear right and cross the river. Follow this track, keeping left/ahead, to a wide clearing and track crossing by the old mines/ruins. Keep ahead, passing a farm building on the right and track on the left. Exit the trees and continue to a track crossing. Turn left along a fence.
After a fun descent past a lake go right on the road, uphill. Go right at the T-junction, back up to the track crossing. This time, turn left. Stay on the main track, keeping right at the forest track fork in the trees, then left at the next fork. Follow the track as it bears right by the first lake (Llyn Dwfn), left by the second (New Pool) and continues to the third (Llyn Penrhaeadr). As the track doubles back to the right keep ahead and go up into the woods on a forest track.
Go right at the end/T-junction, downhill, past a farm. Bear right to join a narrow trail through a gate onto the moors. Follow this dry-river-like trail until it eventually heads back into the trees – take the footbridge on the right or ford the river on the left. Follow the track as it bears right to a junction on the edge of the woods. Go right here, rejoining the track you were on earlier, back to the track crossing by the old mine workings.
Turn left. Shortly afterwards, go right on a narrower bridleway into the trees, then left on a forest track. Descend to the road and keep ahead/left on this, over a cattle grid, with views of the reservoir down to the left. Go right at the fork on a rough track, rejoining the Syfydrin trail at post 19.
Follow the Syfydrin trail all the (long) way back to the finish. There are various possible shortcuts if needed.
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Routes produced in association with Rough Ride Guide
MBUK Big Ride images by Russell Burton