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View down on lake, Snowdonia, Wales

Cycling the Spine of Wales

  • TAILOR-MADE HOLIDAY IDEA

Duration

8 Days

Prices Start from

£2,450pp (ex. flights)

Suitable for

Couples Adventure Traveller

Ride the rollercoaster landscape of inland Wales as you cross this cycling nirvana from south to north. Take on a succession of challenging climbs, in the company of a dedicated cycling guide, as you pedal through intriguingly remote landscapes.

Begin close to the Severn Estuary, before heading through the Black Mountains and into the Cambrian Mountains, home to the picturesque Elan Valley. Break the journey just over halfway with a rest day spent in the quirky town of Machynlleth, before pushing northeast and back towards the English border, skirting the edge of Snowdonia on a network of quiet lanes.

This is a tailor-made trip and can be adjusted for all abilities and interests. The below is our suggestion, but this can be tailored to whatever you may have in mind, including altering the level of guiding and support. Please get in touch to discuss this in more detail.

Key Highlights of this Itinerary

Views of lakes from Mount Snowdon looking from the Llanberis, Snowdonia, Wales, UK 1

Welsh Landscapes

Cycle through the heart of rural Wales, filled with mountains and valleys

Bwlch y Groes climb, Wales 2

Challenging climbs

Take on some of the best climbs in Wales, including the challenging Bwlch y Groes

LLanberis ruins,  Snowdonia, Wales 3

Local sights

Along the way, stop at small museums, isolated churches, medieval ruins and even a Neolithic burial chamber.

Rob Gardiner cycling in the Cotswolds 4

Guided and supported

Benefit from a guide throughout, as well as a support vehicle to transport your luggage from one hotel to the next

Explore our suggested itinerary

  • Day 1

    Chepstow to Hay-on-Wye

  • Day 2

    Hay-on-Wye to Llandovery

  • Day 3

    Llandovery to Rhyader

  • Day 4

    Rhyader to Machynlleth

  • Day 5

    Rest day in Machynlleth

  • Day 6

    Machynlleth to Lake Bala

  • Day 7

    Lake Bala to Llanrwst

  • Day 8

    Llanrwst to Chester

Day 1

Chepstow to Hay-on-Wye

Begin in Chepstow and head north, passing Abergavenny and heading through the Black Mountains to Hay-on-Wye.

Day 2

Hay-on-Wye to Llandovery

After some time to explore the bookshops, continue up the Wye Valley and past Builth Wells. The landscape becomes increasingly wild as you approach Llandovery at the end of the day.

Day 3

Llandovery to Rhyader

Head deep into the Cambrian Mountains, past Llyn Brianne, stopping to visit Strata Florida Abbey ruins. Cut back through the mountains via the stunning Elan Valley.

Day 4

Rhyader to Machynlleth

Leave Rhayader and pedal towards the historic town of Llanidloes, before a beautiful mountain road takes you to Machynlleth.

Day 5

Rest day in Machynlleth

Spend a rest day off the bike. A visit to the unique osprey project located here is highly recommended.

Day 6

Machynlleth to Lake Bala

Tackle the foothills of Snowdonia, including the gruelling Bwlch y Groes climb. Finish on the shores of Lake Bala.

Day 7

Lake Bala to Llanrwst

Continue to skirt Snowdonia, through mountain landscapes. Stop to visit the Capel Gamon Burial Chamber along the way.

Day 8

Llanrwst to Chester

After a morning visit to the extravagant chapel at Llanrwst, get on the bikes for a final time. Tackle the famous climb of Moel Arthur en route to your final destination of Chester.

Our travel experts can tailor this itinerary to suit you.

More details

Tree next to quiet lane, Wales
Wales

Why on two wheels

Wales’s interior is packed with valleys, mountains, lakes and rivers. And amidst this wealth of natural features, a manmade network of quiet roads – often tackling beautiful passes or hiding in quiet valleys – connect small Welsh towns.

This combination of quiet lanes and spectacular landscapes make Wales perfect for exploration by bicycle. The unrelenting nature of the landscape – with its steep and frequent climbs – mean it is challenging cycling, but well worth the effort.

This suggested trip is aimed at people who enjoy the physical aspect of cycling but are also interested in stopping an exploring along the way. However, this can be tailored to all abilities and could even be completed using an e-bike.

Road going into distance, Wales
Wales

Monmouthshire and Brecon Beacons

Head north from Chepstow and immediately enter the Welsh hills. Stop to visit a tiny chapel accessible only on foot, before heading into the sharply rising landscape of the Black Mountains. The final climb of the first day culminates with Gospel Pass, affording stunning views down towards Hay-on-Wye.

After some time to explore the bookshops of Hay-on-Wye after breakfast, follow the Wye Valley into the Welsh heartlands. The first taste of remote central Wales arrives as you touch the fringes of the Cambrian Mountains on the approach  to the market town of Llandovery.

Road through Elan Valley, Wales
Elan Valley, Wales
Road going into distance, Wales
Wales

The Elan Valley and Cambrian Mountains

Follow tiny roads that take you through pine forests and past the dark waters of Llyn Brianne, deep into the Cambrian Mountains. Pass the country’s remotest chapel, before stopping to visit the beautifully located ruins of the Strata Florida Abbey.

Cut back into the mountains and through the Elan Valley – one of the most beautiful cycling spots in Wales. Spend a night in Rhayader – the adventure capital of central Wales – before continuing to the historic town of Llanidloes, which sits on Glyndwr’s Way.

A final scenic mountain road takes you to Machynlleth.

Osprey catching fish, Wales
Osprey, Wales

Machynlleth

Spend a day off the bikes in Machynlleth, a quirky town that lies just south of Snowdonia. The nearby Dyfi Osprey Project is highly recommended, as one of the few places in the UK where wild ospreys can be regularly sighted. This is a unique project – in beautiful surroundings – that is not to be missed.

Other options include the Ynys Hir Nature Reserve, the Glyndwr Museum, the Centre for Alternative Technology and the local art gallery. Further afield, it’s possible to see red kites being fed or even explore Snowdonia.

View across lake, Snowdonia, Wales
Snowdonia, Wales
LLanberis ruins,  Snowdonia, Wales
Snowdonia, Wales
View down on lakes, Snowdonia, Wales
Snowdonia, Wales

Lake Bala and Snowdonia

From Machynlleth, begin to skirt the edge of Snowdonia. This area is home to some wonderful cycling, with far more small roads to choose from than the area further northwest. Tackle the gruelling climb of Bwlch y Groes before a loop around the idyllic shores of Llyn Llanwddyn.

The day finishes on Lake Bala, where a ban on motorised vehicles makes it the perfect place to hop aboard an old sailing dinghy for an evening or morning sail.

From here, begin to pedal back towards the border. As the mountains give way to rolling hills, stop along the way to visit a number of interesting sites, including the ancient Capel Gamon Burial Chamber and the lavishly decorated Gwydir Uchaf chapel.

View at Sugar Loaf, Wales, England, UK
Wales

Where to Stay

This suggestion is based around a mixture of pleasant local hotels and stylish B&Bs. Because of the remote nature of the route and the limited accommodation choices in some areas, the exact properties used will likely vary depending on availability.

Therefore, we haven’t included details of every hotel used in this suggestion. However, for an idea of the kind of properties that we would aim to use, our preferred options include Radnor House in Hay-on-Wye, as well as Gwydir Castle in Llanrwrst.

We're waiting to help you

It all starts here

Let’s put that once-in-a-lifetime trip in your hands. Get in touch with the team and we will work with you at every step to make sure that it’s extraordinary.

01285 880 980

Get in touch with our travel experts to start
creating your tailor-made holiday.

Start planning your trip

A note on price

This includes accommodation, lunches and breakfasts, dedicated cycling guide, driver, entry fees and a support vehicle. It excludes bike hire but this can be quoted separately.

This Itinerary
Price
From £2,450 Per person

When to travel

United Kingdom in January

January is usually the coldest month of the year and also when you’re most likely to experience clear and frosty days but with blue skies and crisp mornings. Perfect conditions for winter walks, if dressed suitably.

United Kingdom in February

You may experience snowfall in February and temperatures will still be relatively cold. In the south of the United Kingdom, snowdrops begin to emerge, particularly in woodland areas and you’ll see the first sprouts of wild garlic.

United Kingdom in March

The weather gradually begins to improve in March as the Spring season starts to get underway. Temperatures begin to rise and spring flowers appear, both on the ground and as blossom on the trees. The rugby Six Nations Championship is held during February or March when England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France and Italy all go head to head.

United Kingdom in April

April can be a little unpredictable for the weather; it can be warm and sunny or it can be a very rainy month. Towards the end of April swathes of bluebells cover ancient woodland areas and meadows burst into colour.

United Kingdom in May

The weather is usually warm during May. The month has two Bank Holiday weekends, which can be particularly busy as British people make the most of this time off work. There are quite a few festivals that will take place from May through to August, making the most of the sunshine, so talk to our experts as to what you can get involved in.

United Kingdom in June

The warm weather continues through to June. There are quite a few festivals that will take place from May through to August, making the most of the sunshine, so talk to our experts as to what you can get involved in.

United Kingdom in July

Traditionally the summer months, July and August are in theory the hottest and driest months of the year although, as with all British weather, this cannot be relied on. There are quite a few festivals that will take place from May through to August, making the most of the sunshine, so talk to our experts as to what you can get involved in.

United Kingdom in August

Traditionally the summer months, July and August are in theory the hottest and driest months of the year although, as with all British weather, this cannot be relied on. There are quite a few festivals that will take place from May through to August, making the most of the sunshine, so talk to our experts as to what you can get involved in.

United Kingdom in September

September often has warmer and drier weather than August, and the summer crowds start to disperse as schools reopen.

United Kingdom in October

The autumn leaves are at their best, most vibrant russet shades during October with around, on average about 10 days of rain. Temperatures are cooler and some sites in more rural areas start to close for winter.

United Kingdom in November

In early November the autumn leaves are still in full show, but mountainous areas may experience snow and daylight is restricted to around seven hours in northern Scotland. The weather is usually cool and damp, although it’s not uncommon to have wonderful cold, dry spells. The UK acknowledges daylight saving time on November 1 and the clocks will be set back by one hour

United Kingdom in December

December is usually cold and damp, with little foliage and the least daylight hours of the year (fewer than seven in the north of Scotland).

Holiday Inspiration

Our experts have created and curated these tailor-made holiday ideas to get you started. Take the time to search through them and find something that is the spark for your unique adventure.

Why Choose Steppes?

Our knowledge and expertise set us apart. So too our curiosity. It is this that drives us to create a journey that is really bespoke to you, all the while ensuring we travel and operate sustainably.

Are you ready to discover extraordinary once again?


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