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Mawddach Trail Circular Cycle Ride from Penmaenpool
(If preferred the ride can be started from Dolgellau)
This must be one of the best short cycle rides in Wales combining spectacular mountain and coastal scenery and with a totally unspoilt estuary trail. Most people 'do' the justly famous Mawddach Trail by cycling there and back from Dolgellau to Barmouth. This ride adds a new dimension by cycling most of the outward leg on a quiet mountain lane under the beetling crags of Cadair Idris, passing the lovely Cregennen Lakes and offering a stunning view of the coast from on high. The long 900 foot ascent is all in the first third of the ride and is never very steep (except perhaps briefly just after the lakes) and is in any case interspersed with more level sections.
The descent, however, after the Cregennen Lakes is very steep and has several hairpin bends and so it is essential to take care and ensure that brakes are in good condition.
John Ruskin said that only one other journey in the world had views to compare with the one from Dolgellau to Barmouth, and that was the journey from Barmouth to Dolgellau.
Route: Penmaenpool - Dolgellau - Cregennen Lakes - Arthog - Barmouth - Penmaenpool Map: OS 50,000 Landranger No. 124 Porthmadog & Dolgellau. Photos of the ride
Distance: 22 miles
Ascent: 900 ft. (240 m.) The gradients are moderate with a brief steep ascent after the lakes.
Start: Penmaenpool RSPB centre (free parking) Grid Ref: 695184 or alternatively one can start from the long stay car park (£3.50) at Dolgellau (Grid Ref: 175178) which is close to the short stay car park through which the ride goes.
From the car park at Penmaenpool follow the Mawddach Trail to Dolgellau.
At Dolgellau go through the car park and Turn Right on to the road
Follow the Town Centre signs
Turn Right at T Junction and follow the Barmouth (A493) signs
Near outskirts of town Fork Left signposted Cader Idris & Nat. Cycle Rte. 8 and start the long ascent - the views become steadily more and more impressive
After 6 miles Turn Right signposted Llynnau Cregennen Lakes
Pause to admire the Lakes and after a final short steepish ascent pause again to drink in the stunning coastal views before starting the dramatic descent. Take care as it is steep with narrow hairpin bends.
Turn Left at the A493 and enter Arthog
After a third of a mile Turn First Right by a green corrugated shed
After a quarter of a mile Turn Left on to the Mawddach Trail
Follow the trail and eventually cross estuary by causeway and toll bridge (toll - £1 return)
Turn Left at main road in Barmouth (Take care, this is a rather abrupt junction on a steep little hill - it is safest to dismount.)
Turn First Left at the harbour and follow the road round to the main seafront
After visiting Barmouth return to the start of the Mawddach trail taking great care with the Right Turn down to the toll bridge.
Follow the trail along the estuary back to the starting point at Penmaenpool
Points of Interest
The Mawddach Trail runs for 9 miles from Dolgellau to Barmouth along a disused railway track beside the beautiful estuary of the river Mawddach. The far side of the river is dominated by the shapely Rhinog hills. The track surface is mostly compacted rather than tar macadam but is easy to cycle on. There are occasional picnic areas and viewpoints and little nature reserves. See also our page Mawddach Trail Cycleway
Dolgellau is an old stone-built town full of character and dominated by the towering Cadair Idris.
Barmouth is a popular holiday resort surrounded by hills and with great expanses of sand. It is reached by crossing the estuary via the long causeway and bridge, vantage points that provide one of the highlights of the ride.
The Cregennen Lakes (National Trust) are delightful mountain tarns with an air of remoteness and tranquillity.
Plas Gwyn - holiday cottage conveniently close to the Mawddach Trail and the owner is a keen cyclist!
Sunray Guest House, Barmouth, offers accommodation with secure cycle parking
Sunnysands Caravan Park near Barmouth offers caravan hire and touring pitches
Photos of the ride
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