Tarquin's cycling pages

23 January 2011 - Llyn Coch-hwyad

WhereLlyn Coch-hwyad
(Mid Wales)
Date23 January 2011
Duration1 hours 50 minutes
Distance5 miles (~8 km)
WeatherSunny with some thin cloud cover
Trail conditionsDirt track, with frequent sheet ice
Mark 'Tarquin' Wilton-Jones 30 GT LTS 2000 (TWJ)

Trip report

Description by Mark 'Tarquin' Wilton-Jones

This was an incomplete bike route, used only as a means to access a waterfall. The forest has many more tracks, and better routes than this one can certainly be devised.

See pictureSee pictureThe ride starts in Cwm Tafolog, a couple of miles east of Mallwyd. The access lane runs along the valley from the A458, and the start of the forestry tracks (with some parking space) is just after the Glan-yr-afon farm. It begins as it intends to carry on; very steep. Thankfully, the hairpin bends and cuttings allow some good views over the trees.

See pictureSee pictureAfter two hairpin bends, slowly trying to climb up the steep valley sides, the first junction appeared. As with every significant junction until the top, the way on was always to keep climbing along a good quality track.

See pictureSee pictureAnd climbing. And climbing. And then the sheet ice started, occasionally covering the entire track, and once throwing me off the bike. Wherever there was not sheet ice, the surface had been lifted and hollowed out by ice crystals. Finally there was a point where the trees had been cut down, and the impressive views over nearby Snowdonia opened up. The track then reached a crest, dropped to cross a stream, then climbed back up to its highest point.

See pictureSee pictureIgnoring a track to the right, the way on now became a stream of ice, frequently covering its entire width. It was not possible to use the verges, as they were either frozen clumps, or water-filled hollows. Slow progress to the end of the track. A short walk along the rim of the gorge to the left to see the waterfalls, then I crossed a rotten bridge over a small stream, and pushed the bike along the fire tracks near the main stream to reach the next track.

See pictureSee pictureLeft brought me to the edge of the Llyn Coch-hwyad lake, but it was time to head back. Instead of following the fire tracks, I stuck with the main track. Just before it ended, another track to the right provided a way back. It was also frustratingly slicked with ice, but soon took me back to the junction on the crest of the hill. Turning left took me to the almost constant downhill back to the start. Unfortunately, the slope was too steep to allow freewheeling all the way, though in safer conditions, it would make an impressively fast descent. Just don't forget about the hairpins and barrier.

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