Category Archives: Blue

Bike Park Wales – The Blues

Trail centre: Bike Park Wales

Grade: Blue (trail sections Sixtapod, Willy Waver, Melted Welly, Blue Belle, Norkle, Bush Whacker)

Length: Various – short sections.

Start point: BPW trail head.  Turn off the A470 near Merthyr Tydfil, somewhere South of the A465.

Description: The trails at BPW are like short, intense versions of the ones you find elsewhere, and as such are generally towards the top of the trail grading.  The blue sections are like the hardest bits of blue trails elsewhere.  As such, every one of them is great fun, and definitely worth riding.  The blues are typically not terribly challenging, but have plenty of fun for the bad mountain biker, and are without doubt a good place to start at BPW before trying things with more heft.  Take them at speed.

Good stuff: All of it!  Blue Belle is a particular favourite, thanks to more varied riding and carpets of bluebells (how unexpected…) in spring.  Norkle is also a fun short blast to the visitor centre.

Difficult stuff: Nothing hugely tricky.  Some places get a bit sketchy at speed, particularly the more intense bits like Bush Whacker.  There’s a berm that seems to end early and throw me every time I ride it, too.

Verdict: Excellent, fun, flowy blue trails that offer enough of a challenge to be interesting, but not so much you think you’re going to die.

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Bike Park Wales – The Climb

Trail centre: Bike Park Wales

Grade: Blue

Length: 4.6km (2.85 miles)

Start point: BPW visitor centre.  Turn off the A470 near Merthyr Tydfil, somewhere South of the A465.

Description: Otherwise known as the Beast of Burden, this is in some ways an afterthought at Bike Park Wales.  The vast majority of people use the uplift service, and as a result the climb trail tends to be very quiet indeed.  It’s possible to climb on fire roads, but I wouldn’t recommend it.  The nicely planned singletrack avoids some very steep sections, and makes for an altogether more satisfying ride.  There’s little to be said about the trail itself.  There are some nice features, but essentially it’s simply a way to get you to the top for the real riding.  Worth mentioning that the first time is a bit of a killer, and it gets tiring once you’re tired, but the second and third climbs seem to go pretty smoothly.

Good stuff: Not really what this one’s about, but the woody rooty section towards the top is quite fun.

Difficult stuff: Nothing hugely tricky, although a steep climb on a cold start is a bit nasty, and there’s a steep rocky hump feature between a tree and a crag early on that’s very awkward if you get it wrong.

Verdict: Not thrilling, but does exactly what it says on the tin.

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Blue Scar

Trail centre: Afan

Grade: Blue

Length: 7km (4.5miles)

Start point: Afan trail centre.  Leave the M4 at junction 40 and follow signs for Cymmer.  Carry straight on through villages and eventually the trail centre is on your right.

Description: Wonderful but short blue graded trail.  Gentle singletrack climbing leads up to a short section of descent that leads into a longer fireroad climb.  Helpful section names ‘Just Around the Next Bend’ and ‘The Top’ let you know how you’re getting on, and then an awesome long section of singletrack begins.

Good stuff: The first descent section Jim Crow is a blast, and a taste of things to come.  Later on, Widow Maker (ignore the name!) and Hitchers and Ostlers are just as good, just as blue graded, and just as fun.  Very fun and achievable ride.

Difficult stuff: Not much at all.  Climbs are tiring at times.

Verdict: Excellently designed and great fun.  Good when ridden immediately after Penhydd or one of the other red trails.

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Verderers Trail

Trail centre: Forest of Dean

Grade: Blue

Length: 11.3km (7miles)

Start point: Cannop Ponds cycle centre, Forest of Dean.  Head for the mid-point between Coleford and Cinderford and follow signs.  The centre is on the B4234, North of the B4226.

Description: Beautifully designed blue trail in the Forest of Dean.  Like the best manmade blue trails, it’s flowing, smooth, fast, and built with a healthy and hearty slice of fun and excellently rideable jumps and berms.  Particularly great ride when combined with the Freeminers trail.

Good stuff: Excellent and beautifully designed singletrack trail.  Very fun and achievable ride.

Difficult stuff: Not much at all.  Climbs are tiring at times.

Verdict: Great, fun, rideable and brilliantly designed.

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Derwen Trail

Trail Centre: Brechfa

Grade: Green/blue

Length: 9.2km/4.7km (5.7miles/2.9miles)

Start Point: Byrgym Bach Forestry Commission car park, a couple of miles East of Brechfa village.

Description: Thoughtfully built trail through the Brechfa Forest.  The green option is short, but unusually interesting for a green trail, and provides an exceptionally good starting point for people who would like to find out what mountain biking is like.  A smooth all weather trail surface is peppered with gentle features like easy versions of what you might find on harder trails.  In particular, the last section (that can be taken as a tiny trail in its own right – just turn left at the first junction by the picnic table) is a hugely entertaining run.  The blue trail of the same name is largely more of the same, but with a somewhat painful climb up into the extra bits of singletrack.  There are some more exciting sections of trail on the way down, though.

Good stuff: Most interesting green trail you’re likely to come across, and plenty of fun riding whichever option you go with.  More of the same in the blue trail.

Difficult stuff: Not much.  Tiring climb when the blue trail heads off from the green.

Verdict: Excellent!  Gentle stuff if you have some experience, exciting stuff for those that don’t.

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Filed under Blue, Brechfa, Green, Trails, Wales