Category Archives: Gower

The Gower

Whereabouts:  Wales.

Where specifically:  South Wales, the peninsula that runs West of Swansea, with the Loughor river along the Northern edge.

What am I doing here?  The Gower peninsula is worth a visit, whether mountain biking or not.  It was Britain’s first SSSI, and contains in its small area a hugely varied selection of terrain and wildlife habitats, including some of the finest beaches in the UK.  There are upland moors, woods, cliffs, beaches, salt flats, sand dunes and plenty of others as well.  Swansea itself is not far away for nightlife, bike shops and the like, the Celtic Trail National Cycle route crosses the peninsula, and the coastline has more choughs, cormorants, seals and other wildlife than you can shake a stick at, even if you’re well practised in wildlife stick shaking.

So which bits should I ride?  The Gower is a relatively small area, and so it’s quite possible to do a route taking in the majority of good spots.  See the other Gower post, which covers them in more detail.  The singletrack along the side of Rhossilli Down is excellent, as is the obvious and fun bridleway along the top of Cefn Bryn.  There are plenty of other good sections, but a quick look at a map, a guide, or the other post on here should provide plenty of material.

I miss trail centres.  The incredible trail centre riding of the Afan Forest Park is not far away up the Neath valley.  Margam Park reportedly has a new red graded trail as well (though I’ve yet to ride it).  Slightly further afield the quiet and beautifully designed trails in Brechfa Forest are within striking distance, and if you’re not from the area then the trip back along the M4 takes you past Cwmcarn, the Forest of Dean, and all sorts of varied riding.

My bike’s broken.  In Swansea there’s Wheelies, the Urban Cyclery and Schmoos.  Llanelli doubtless has some of its own bike shops.  Halfords, for cheap parts and basic repair, is everywhere.

Where can I find out more?  See the other post where I’ve described some of the sections of bridleway in more detail.  I’d recommend the Vertebrate Publishing book on Mountain Biking in Wales for a route taking in the highlights of the Gower.  Mountain biking wales, as always, has a good selection.

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The Gower

Trail centre: Natural – Gower Peninsula.

Grade: Red

Length: Variable, depending on which bits you ride.  25-30km (15-19 miles).

Start point: There’s an excellent circuit that starts at the picnic spot in Penmaen (at 51.578, -4.124).  There’s plenty of places to park on the Gower, if you fancy starting it somewhere else.

Description: As with many other natural routes, the point here is linking a number of excellent sections of trail with roads, tracks and other rideable stuff.  The route that I rode started in Penmaen, ran the length of the Cefn Bryn ridge, along the edge of Ryers Down, over the edge of Llanmadoc Hill, along the edge of Rhossili Down and back along Cefn Bryn.

The track along the top of Cefn Bryn is a fun and relatively easy blast, with views of the whole Gower peninsula.  Then it’s a short section of road past the Fairy Hill hotel and up onto Ryers Down, ending at a hidden pony bridge.  A tough climb leads back up onto the road, and then along to Cheriton and up a steep road climb until you find the track up on to Llanmadoc Hill.  Navigation gets distinctly tricky at this point, but make your way across the hill towards Rhossili Down, which dominates the skyline to the South.  Once off the hill, follow the road along through Llangennith to Hillend.  Go through the gate and keep right onto the long section of singletrack along the edge of Rhossili Down.  When you come out in Rhossili, follow the road up to Middleton and then along the bridleway through Kingshall and out onto the main road.  After a while, turn left up toward Reynoldston and back onto the top of Cefn Bryn, which takes you back to the start.

Good stuff:  The track along the top of Cefn Bryn is excellent, and frankly it’s all about the long singletrack blast along the edge of Rhossili Down.  There are plenty of other sections that are great fun too, but a fair bit shorter.

Difficult stuff:  Nothing massively tricky, although inevitably the sections of natural track vary considerably according to weather conditions and time of year.  Some bits require a foot on the floor, or occasionally two.  The climb from the pony bridge is loose, steep, and a bit of killer.  The herd of cows that you end up following along a bridleway is also somewhat tricky to ride over.

Verdict: Great fun, and very good for seeing a lot of the Gower in a single great ride.  Definitely worth a ride!  Or several.

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Filed under Gower, Natural, Red, Trail centres, Trail grades, Trails, Wales