Cathedral forests and drovers’ roads: Snowdonia’s new cycling route

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The Traws Eryri, a 140-mile mountain biking route in north-west Wales, heads away from the tourist trails and highlights the region’s rugged, changeable beauty

As befits a landscape that has been regularly repurposed and reimagined over millennia of dynamic human use and interaction, Eryri (or Snowdonia) is woven like a Welsh blanket with a multitude of tracks and paths. There are Neolithic ways leading to burial mounds, Roman roads past stone forts, snaking trails through coppiced woodland to abandoned mineral workings, drovers’ roads over bleak moorland, old narrow-gauge railway tracks and slate paths haunted by the ghosts of miners walking home from slate quarry to slate cottage. Somehow, Traws Eryri (Trans Snowdonia), a new 140-mile (225km), mainly off-road bikepacking route from Machynlleth to Conwy across the great mountain fastness of north-east Wales, manages to follow them all.

The route, which launches on 23 August, was developed by Cycling UK, which is making a habit of creating excellent long-distance, multi-day cycling adventures. Traws Eryri follows King Alfred’s Way, West Kernow Way and the Great North Trail, among others, and will be on the hot list of “must do” British exploits for two-wheeled explorers. It is distinct, though, and more of an adventure than its predecessors.

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