Cambrian Mountains & Elan Valley via Llyn Brianne and Devil's Staircase

Cambrian Mountains & Elan Valley via Llyn Brianne and Devil's Staircase

Circular Road Cycling Route

Cycling through the counties and areas of Cambrian Mountains, Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Elan Valley.

65 miles 7200 ft Circular route
Circular RouteHillyRoadScenic
The cycle route passes through the settlements of Llanwrtyd Wells (start, Powys), Tirabad (Powys), Trecastle (Powys), Myddfai (Carmarthenshire), Llandovery (Carmarthenshire), Cilycwm (Carmarthenshire), Llyn Brianne (Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion), Llanwrtyd Wells (finish, Powys)
Cambrian Mountains Carmarthenshire Ceredigion Elan Valley

Setting off, we chose to start from Llanwrtyd Wells, a Welsh town claiming to be the smallest town in Britain and also home to the World Bog Snorkelling Championships. After several miles we pass through rolling countryside before shortly arriving at the MoD Sennybridge Training Area, a 12,000 hectare plateau of exposed moorland with panoramas aplenty of the surrounding Cambrian and Brecon hills.

It’s worth noting here that although public access is permitted, there are rare occasions where the roads may be closed, therefore do check. Navigating the smoothly paved single track roads you can’t but help notice the plethora of no-go roads, mock village and shooting ground, be also aware that stopping isn’t permitted – so hold off too much coffee beforehand!

Exiting the scenic training ground we join the A40 trunk road at Trecastle for a short dash, passing the abandoned roadside hotel before turning off right towards our first reservoir, the Usk. Located within the Brecon Beacons National Park, take a breather for 5 minutes and enjoy the view from the road crossing the dam.

We continue along quiet roads before turning right at the Red Kite Feeding Station riding along narrow winding roads towards the delightful village of Myddfai, famed for its many myths and legends. If you’re in need of refreshment here the Myddfai Community Hall & Visitor Centre has an excellent cafe, shop and plenty of information on the history of the village.

A HUGE shoutout must go to volunteer and manager Lesley who after a quick phone call came to our rescue and picked up a friend who’d suffered a pinch puncture on one of the many potholes leading into the village. What’s more due to dried out glue she was able to help us source a puncture repair get and get us on our way after a much needed slice of Bara Brith and coffee!

It’s then a quick 3 mile dash north into the bustling town of Llandovery with its Norman castle ruins and an former stopping point for farmers moving their cattle north. Here you’ll find plenty of cafes for a quick coffee & cake including the superb but small Old Printing Office and is the last point of civilisation where you’ll find refreshments until we’re back in Llanwrtyd Wells in around 30 miles time.

Next we head into the Towy valley, with a gradual climb up to the Llyn Brianne dam and reservoir, completed in 1972 and at 300ft, the UK’s tallest dam and largest of its kind in the world. Looking back along the sheltered valley road, you’re rewarded with fantastic views and really begin to feel very remote here. At 3/4 of the way up be sure to take the left turning into the car park on the sharp right hairpin for the famous picture of Llyn Brianne and its overspill.

Continuing through fantastic hairpins and a total elevation climb of 1000ft at the top we now overlook the reservoir itself with the pine clad forest, various fingered inlets of the water and large Welsh blue sky, its picture postcard. There’s also no descent quite yet as we continue to sweep around the reservoir with a rollercoaster ride through dense woodland and scenic panoramas before heading to the infamous Devil’s Staircase.

Made famous by milk races during the late 80s and early 90s, it’s one of those climbs you must tackle whilst cycling in mid Wales! Our route takes us up from the west side where the staircase can be clearly seen in front of you in a series of ‘steps’, along with a daunting 25% gradient sign as if you’re legs weren’t feeling it enough already!

As soon as you’re up, it’s straight back down again through a series of tight hairpins (be careful) before crossing a small stream and heading back in the direction of Llanwrtyd Wells through sweeping, deserted roads – a true classic route and one of our favourites.

Cycle friendly cafes nearby to cycling route