Tarquin's cycling pages

05 September 2004 - Park Woods and Three Cliffs loop

WherePark Woods and Three Cliffs loop
(Brecon Beacons and South Wales)
Date05 September 2004
Duration1 hours 50 minutes
Distance5 miles (~8 km)
WeatherGlorious sunshine
Trail conditionsGood, dry ground
Eleanor Wilton-Jones 10 Raleigh Cassis
Mark 'Tarquin' Wilton-Jones 24 GT LTS 2000 (TWJ)

Trip report

Description by Mark 'Tarquin' Wilton-Jones

The ride was only short but helped to reveal the impressive potential for bike rides in this area. Large amounts of the Gower are covered by bridleways or footpaths, most of which can be followed by bikes. This particular route could be followed in either direction, offering either an exhilarating rocky downhill and long gentle climb, or a long steady downhill and hard rocky ascent. We chose the latter, as the rocky ascent would be too difficult for my sister to ride down. It would almost certainly be possible to devise a route that used both downhills.

See pictureSee pictureThe ride started at North Hills Farm overlooking the stunning three cliffs bay. At the start of the road from the campsite a bridleway joined us but we followed the road back to Penmaen. On reaching Penmaen we continued across the main road and into the village on the other side.

See pictureSee pictureClimbing up through the village we took a track on the right immediately after passing a large stone chimney. This area of common land is criss-crossed with countless tracks, footpaths and bridleways. Many of these would prove to be excellent cycling routes including one ride along the hill ridge. We chose to follow the main track, which climbed steady but gently.

See pictureSee pictureThe track started to head downhill with the wild forest of Park Woods to our right. Immediately after passing through a section with trees on both sides of the track we climbed over a stile to the right, heading into the forest. This forest provides many miles of scenic paths and we chose to follow the main path ignoring all junctions, giving us nearly 2 miles of downhill.

See pictureSee pictureAt a junction with a proper car track in a clearing, marked with a large stone saying 'The Gower Way' we turned left up the Llethrid valley. This continued uphill, much the same as before, eventually reaching a gate. At this point, Llethrid Swallet (for any cavers who are interested) is to the right. The gate enters onto private land (complete with miniature ponies) and is marked at the other end only with a 'NO CYCLING' sign.

See pictureSee pictureWe turned around and continued along the path in the clearing. Looking almost like a country park, it passed a Neolithic burial mound (between 4000 and 5000 years old) before reaching a carpark, with another bridleway joining from the right.

See pictureSee pictureAfter a short section of narrow road, complete with arrogant drivers, we reached the village of Parkmill. We took the wrong road and cycled through a ford. My tyres slipped on the bottom and I fell sideways into the stream, managing to save face to the watching villager by remaining standing, and dipping my bike into the water instead. Doh!

See pictureWe returned through the ford and took the other fork. It joined the main road and we headed right, but immediately turned left onto a bridleway. A side trail went off to the left (which heads to the beach and further along the side of the road to the left), but we continued to the rocky ascent. I pushed both bikes up the hardest parts (I could have just managed to ride up it, but I was with the wrong company for that). The path levelled out and we cycled on to join the bridleway we passed at the start of the ride, completing the loop.

See pictureSee pictureNow, off down the steep (even extreme bikers would walk the first little bit) path from the campsite to the beach to play around, cycling on the sand. It's hard to cycle on sand, by the way. And you get chain suck. But you got to try it - and wash the salt off your bike afterwards.

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