bridge lies in the mountains between Coed y Brenin and the sea. Yet
ten mile wide stretch of land could hardly be less like those trails
we know so well if it were in another country. This is a tough ride
with a lot of pushing, unless you have the legs of a god. You
have been warned.
Landranger 124 Dolgellau & Porthmadog.
To open map link click on
'show'. To change to OS map select halfway between + and -
on map size selector.
656 201 show
Park car here for shortest.
637 223 show
Top of descent.
634 235 show
Pont Scethin Bridge.
627 237 show
627 222 show
Near Llyn Erddyn.
609 224 show Turn
left back uphill!
626 201 show Back
over gap in hill.
640 201 show Double
alongside cut down wood.
is Pont Scethin?
fought the law...
this is another ride we found virtually cruising across Wales on digital OS maps. I just couldn't resist the tight contours sliced by long red 'MTB's welcome' dashes. There was a really interesting looking start to the ride from
here, but how were we supposed to get to it? Often when a bridleway ends in a so called 'white' or unclassified road this can be used as access. However here this is not the case and in fact the short zigzag up to the hill to the bridleway is on a private farm with no legal access. We determined to walk along one of the footpaths
here in a kind of right of way protest but this turned out to be almost completely overgrown.
the law won
There are two more footpaths leading to the start of the section but both are longer and so we decided most riders would prefer to give up on it altogether. Once we had forced our way through the undergrowth (we don't give up easily!) We did find the start of the Bridleway and it's a right little stormer. It begins at the head of a small valley between two cols and in late August the purple heather was everywhere and really stunning. Passing between (and sometimes over) heather trimmed boulders this is like riding in someone's giant rock garden. At the same time on a clear day the views of the estuary and across to Cadair Idris are surely amongst the most beautiful in the region. This is a tricky little descent with unusually slippery rocks if it's wet, and a wonderfully lumpy, uneven grassy single through low bracken.
that real mountain?
After passing through a gate and some mad line choices (over the rock or around to the left, slippery grass or sandy rut?) you ford a small stream then a much bigger one. Don't be a wimp, it's not too slippery, get your feet wet and you'll make it! Unfortunately the following climb is a bit too steep and rocky to manage easily but it's short and leads to another off-piste grass drop and rock slab step-up. All too soon you reach the road and we were begging for more of the same.
The main loop of this ride is of a different character but you still have the magnificent descent to Pont Scethin bridge awaiting.
First however there is a steep road climb unless you park
here. There is only room for around six to eight cars, so if it's full (not when we were there) you will need to beat a retreat to here and ride back up. At this point it's worth mentioning that this ride will split riders opinions right down the middle. Those who like a big, tough climb and the real deal mountain feel, will love it.
Those who like to 'keep a good quick pace up all round' will hate it and curse you for taking them on this unending grassy climb.
Green and spongy
Once you go through the old iron gate you will probably need to push a little as the first section is a tough little singletrack, much more fun on the way back! Again if it's damp this part can be treacherous: but we're not paying your insurance - heh! At the top of here, keep right of a standing stone and you will go up through a heavy, single-wide iron gate. Congratulations, you are now at the bottom of one of the longest grassy climbs in Wales! If it has been raining the grass will be sponge-like and we wouldn't fancy it.
After a dry spell the going is firm and so it was when we rode it. I'm not sure if it was the time of year or a dose of laxatives in the sheep feed but there really was a copious covering of sheep droppings along this next mile. We weaved in and out of this brown mine field in fear of getting our tyres completely covered and suffering 'projectile poo' on the way down again. Just when you're completely pooped (ha ha, sorry) the path bears left and then goes through a gate to continue up the hill on the left side of the dry stone wall. Only it gets much steeper here, great. After a few hundred yards of pushing straight up and one false left turn (which just comes straight back to the wall again) the traverse left appears amid some serious celebrations.
Fool on a hill
Hilary and Tensing did a similar dance on Everest I'm certain. This spectacular path has amazing views clouds permitting, over the Barmouth Estuary. Unfortunately after traversing the path climbs once more to the saddle and finally you reach the top: plant a flag and take a picture you've earned it. Now's the time to laugh at all the wimps who wouldn't join you on such an ambitious and possibly foolhardy route. The descent to Pont Scethin bridge is definitely something to write home about.
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