Lon Las Cymru is a cycle route 250 miles long that crosses Wales with a choice of starts in the south from either Chepstow or Cardiff to Holyhead in the north. It is a spectacular journey through the Brecon Beacons, Cambrian Mountains and Snowdonia almost entirely on quiet roads. Along the way, there are inland market towns, coastal towns, mountains and river valleys. For lovers of wildlife, red kites sore above, woodpeckers hammer away and two of Britain's finest rivers, the Usk and Wye, are met.
The route is challenging but there are some family friendly sections too. Whichever is chosen the scenery is stunning and wild. I took my touring bike which started life as a cyclo-cross and has puncture proof tyres. Mostly the route is on tarmac but some of the best stretches are on gravel tracks so this choice of bike is recommended. It is possible to use a road bike but not really ideal.
For the best scenery and biggest challenge, the start should be from Chepstow, though on this occasion, I used a third option and started at Newport. This is the link for choice of routes all of which are on the National Cycle Network
I had an easy first day following the Brecon and Monmouth Canal to Brecon where I met NCN8. This route changed to minor roads through Talgath, Builth Wells, Rhayader, Llangurig, Llanidloes and on to Machynlleth. I met the gravel coach road last seen 4 weeks ago on the Radnor Ring and this time the bluebells were out. On this route the hills start in earnest at Llangurig. They climb passing Plynlimon, source of the Rivers Wye and Severn, drop down to Staylittle and climb again through the Cambrian Mountains, before a very long and exhilerating descent to Machynlleth.
Lon Las follows NCN8 round the east side of Cadair Idris to Dolgellau with a huge climb and spectacular views of the mountain. However on this occasion I followed NCN82 the north route that on the map looked even better but much of it is on gravel tracks. Here are a few images:
I was accompanied by my friend Andy and this is the easy canal path near Abergavenny on the first day
A coffee stop beside the River Wye
Cycling through the Cambrian Mountains on route to Machynlleth
Views from NCN82 after Tywyn and the north side of Cadair Idris
Looking back from Barmouth at Cadair Idris.
For another opinion of this route, please check this link
The route is well signed with the NCN. I finished on this occasion at Barmouth and my distance was 170 miles. My overnights stops were at Crickhowell, Newbridge, Macynlleth and Dolgellau.
For train access, Newport and Cardiff are well served with main line trains. There is a train station at Chepstow but this will probably involve changes. I made my return journey on the Cambrian Coast Railway, a delightfully scenic route where time is not of the essence