Friday, 31 July 2015


Lon Teifi is the second section of Gareth's and my bike ride from Shrewsbury to Fishguard.  Having crossed the Cambrian Mountains, it feels that it should be downhill all the way.  We are now following National Cycle Network Route 82. We had stayed overnight at the Devil's Bridge Hotel and this morning the owner was keen to tell us about all the excellent cycle trails around here.  We needed no convincing and made a mental note to stay here again.  Lon Teifi follows the valley of the River Teifi from its source to the sea.  This is so different from Lon Cambria.  For a start we are held up by ducks, or are they geese?

Somehow there seems to be no need to try the brakes.  We just want to get started!  I recall being held up by several dogs fast asleep on a similar Welsh road only two months ago.  Animals are so laid back here.
We catch up an Australian couple on a tandem with a trailer in tow.  It turns out that they are on a 4 month tour.  "How wise seeking out peace and quiet these Welsh roads" I thought. "It must be quite different from their home state of New South Wales".  We follow an easy trail through a nature reserve.  We see the Cambrian Mountains to our left but this is outstanding scenery of a different type.  It is wildlife friendly with lots of trees and water meadows but, as we go south, we start to see sheep and cattle fields in small hilly paddocks.

I like this ancient bike sign.

I like the river at dusk

I also like the coffee shops as this one in Lampeter

Our route continues through Newcastle Emlyn, Cardigan and into the Preseli Hills before reaching Fishguard.  These are all quiet roads meandering around river valleys and through small towns.  This is a market at St Dogmaels near Cardigan.

Wales' best known ride is Lon Las Cymru but, for me, this is a delightful ride that on the one hand offers lots of challenges with its many climbs and the other the scenery is just simply outstanding.  It is as Gareth says very close to being in the wilderness. 

The total distance is 185 miles and you should follow NCN81 and 82 with these maps.

Thursday, 23 July 2015


"This feels to be the nearest it is possible to cycle in a wilderness in the British Isles" commented Gareth as we neared the summit of a pass in the Cambrian Mountains.  Gareth is my nephew and had joined me on a 185 mile ride across Wales.  We were on a mountain road looking down across wide open moors towards an upland stream sometimes meandering and at others gathering pace from its source while picking up tributaries as it went.  The sun was shining and there were very few cars.  It felt glorious to me too.

We were cycling two "Challenge" routes on the National Cycle Network starting at Shrewsbury and finishing at Fishguard.  The NCN as it is known always delights in its choices of routes and keeps cyclists away from busy main roads.  "Challenge" routes take you into the hills.  Possibly the best known is the C2C from Whitehaven to Tynemouth.  Having cycled most of them, Lon Cambria and Lon Teifi are up there with the best and what is more you discover many of Wales unspoilt villages and occasionally a town.

We met at Shrewsbury train station and immediately saw many people on bikes.  We start by following Lon Cambria (NCN81) through delightful Shropshire countryside to the Welsh border where we met the first serious hill.  Our first break was at a pub in Crewgreen and here the Welsh/English border was so wobbly that whoever decided the border must have been drunk.  In fact we entered Wales twice over a space of 5 miles.  NCN81 took us into Welshpool where our map told us to join the Montgomery Greenway, a canal path whereas, confusingly, the signs and on-line mapping said to cycle into the hills.  We joined the Greenway which took us to Newtown.  The Greenway will make an excellent family trail but unfortunately the hedges were seriously overgrown so someone needs to do some work here.  Probably the map will be the correct route after some major hedge cutting.
Lon Cambria next took us across many hills and down to Rhayader with the later stretch being beside the River Wye.

 The road beside the River Wye, stunning views and an ancient landscape

At Rhayader, we discover a bike shop that doubles up as a pub in the evening.

Our ride now takes us off-road along a slightly bumpy but very scenic trail beside three Elan Valley reservoirs to our highest point where we encounter two BMW's chasing one another but few other cars.  They would enjoy the cycle ride better.

The other side of the pass is steeper with a fast flowing river alongside.  We stop to view some ancient lead mines where the quarrymen came from Cornwall.  Shortly after this we briefly leave Lon Cambria for our overnight stop at Devils Bridge

Our next stage is to join Lon Teifi (NCN82) for the second part of our journey to Fishguard.  I hope that this encourages you to visit this route and more will follow shortly

Monday, 6 July 2015


I have spent a few days cycling around Westport in Co Mayo. To say that the scenery here is spectacular is an understatement.  Dramatic remote hills surround this area that sometimes drop into coastal plains before meeting the sea. In others, the hills just drop into the sea. The coast can be angry with rocky shores but in others there are stunning unspoilt sandy beaches, some with machair grassland growing out of the sand dunes. Along with this are friendly local people who always ask "How are you?" and expect a chat. Here old Ireland meets the new.  The local council are creating some excellent cycle networks.
It does not take much for me to get on my bike to explore areas like this and these are a few images on my daily travels

A sense of old Ireland

A sense of style from a Mayo lady

Westport Town Centre

A family adventure to Achill Island
The road to the Mweel Rea Mountains and Carrickwee Strand
Arrival at Carrickwee Strand and end of the road. Must cycle back now.
I found it hard to find much on websites but the local Ordnance Survey maps are excellent.  This is the website for Cycling around Westport.  It will also be on  Eurovelo 1 if you are touring.  I have come across several touring cyclists from Holland, Germany and USA. Most day cyclists seem to be Irish. I even met a guy at the start of a 2 year adventure. He comes from Denver, USA but started his bike ride in Dublin. He plans to cycle to Tokyo.
The weather while I have been here has been 20 degrees C and mostly sun. However there is often rain but you can see it coming so it is not a surprise. The wind can whip up into a frenzy, then disappear.  If it is behind you, peddling is a dream.  I cycled approx 200 miles locally.

Friday, 3 July 2015


This is Noel and his passion for cycling is infectious.

Noel has built this bike himself.  It has two drives, one being for a normal cycle and the other is a 10cc two stroke engine.  This looked like the engine on my chain saw and runs on 2 stroke. He gave me a demo and kept up with the cars.  To start, he set off in normal bike mode, then once moving, the engine fired and he disappeared into the distance.  Can you see two chains from the image below?

I asked Noel how much it cost. "Well" he replied, "I got most of the parts from scrap but I had to buy the engine.  It cost me 248 euros"  Noel's mate said he cycles everywhere and does not have a car. I loved it.