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United Kingdom

Wales - Monmouthshire and the Brecon Beacons

Guided Road Cycling Holiday

Grade

1
2
3
4
5

Duration

8 days

Prices from

£1,575 P.P.
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2018 Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas honed his cycling skills on the climbs of the Brecon Beacons National Park...now you can too!
 
This challenging yet achievable road cycling adventure in Wales is perfect for road cyclists looking for a new destination in an impressive and largely unexplored corner of the British Isles. 
 
We'll spend the first three nights of this dual-centre based, road cycling adventure in a boutique spa hotel just a few miles south of the quaint town of Usk in Monmouthshire. 
From here we spend two days exploring the beautiful countryside of both the Usk and Wye River valleys and the easternmost reaches of the Brecon Beacons.
A fantastically scenic transition ride on our third day, takes us to a dramatically different landscape and our second location in the heart of the Brecon Beacons National Park via a network of rural lanes, typical Welsh villages, and picturesque lakeside roads.
 
After settling in to our second delightful hotel we spend the remaining three days discovering the wild, wide-open spaces, vast valleys and natural beauty of the central Beacons region.
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Holiday Highlights

  • The Wye Valley, an officially designated Area of Natural Beauty, and the magnificent ruins of Tintern Abbey
  • The lush green rolling landscapes and leafy lanes of Monmouthshire and the Usk Valley
  • The wide-open spaces, big skies, and wild beauty of the Brecon Beacons National Park
  • Two lovely boutique spa hotels each with swimming pools and great restaurants
  • Some of the best cycling in the British Isles

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Itinerary

Day 1
Arrival: Llangybi, Usk
Non Riding Day

Participants travelling by train will be picked up and transferred from Newport Railway Station. There is ample parking at the hotel for those preferring to drive and cars can be left at the first hotel for the duration of the tour since we will be transferring back here on departure.

There is no formal schedule for our arrival day however there is much to enjoy ranging from taking advantage of the hotel’s spa facilities and indoor pool to a short orientation spin around the surrounding roads or a visit to the pretty riverside town of Usk itself.

Day 2
Wye Valley and Tintern Abbey
49 Miles / 79 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,200 Metres Approx.

A rolling road leads us away from our hotel and almost immediately into the bottom of the Usk River Valley. It’s not long however before the road starts heading upwards and by 25km into our journey we find ourselves at the highest point of our day as we ride along the ridge that separates the Usk and Wye valleys.

We descend from the village of Trellech and into a beautiful woodland via a road that follows the Anghidi River until we reach the village of Tintern in the Wye Valley, an officially-designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

We then make short diversion back into the forest to an idyllic picnic spot before dropping back down to the Wye for a post-lunch coffee in the shadows of the iconic, roofless ruins of the famous Gothic abbey.

Our return journey, via a network of minor roads, climbs once again into the countryside north of the Severn Estuary before finally dropping us back down to the Usk and ultimately back to base.

Day 3
Blaenavon and Blorenge Mountain
45 Miles / 73 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 750 Metres Approx.

Our route today takes us in the opposite direction as we head west towards Pontypool and then onwards, and upwards, to Blaenavon, a once important industrial town (and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site) which grew up around its ironworks.

Having made our way through Pontypool’s suburbs, we join the old disused Pontypool to Blaenavon Railway line. What was once a busy line linking the two communities and serving the local industry, is now a virtually traffic-free ribbon of smooth asphalt which rises gently upwards for almost 10 miles into the leafy southern slopes of a mountain known locally as The Blorenge.

Close to the summit, three miles of actual railway have been preserved and are, to the delight of generations of steam enthusiasts, home to the UK’s highest functioning standard gauge track, two platforms and a host of fully operational steam locomotives.

We’ll take a breather at the summit beside the Garn Lakes Nature Reserve before descending, circling the northern slopes of The Blorenge and finally returning via a series of scenic minor roads, all the way back to our hotel.

Day 4
Usk to Nant Ddu Transition
47 Miles / 76 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,100 Metres Approx.

Having spent three evenings and two full days enjoying some of Monmouthshire’s best riding, it’s time to change locations and scenery as we head off into the heart of the Brecon Beacons.

Our transition ride begins relatively sedately as we head upstream along the Usk Valley, following the course of the river as it rises gently and meanders through numerous towns and villages such as Abbergavenny, Govilon and Crickhowell.

Approximately 30 miles into the ride we turn away from the Usk and, crossing a tiny swing bridge in the village of Talybont, temporarily head south into a more dramatic, much more rural and more challenging terrain.

After riding along the shoreline of the Talybont Reservoir, the first of three that we shall encounter in the final stages of today’s ride, the road rises sharply for just under a mile before plunging back down, equally sharply for a similar distance.

A final ten miles of mainly rolling, occasionally cheeky, country lanes deliver us to our second boutique spa hotel which will be our home for the next four evenings.

Day 5
Introduction to the Beacons
49 Miles / 79 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,400 Metres Approx.

Our first ride into the heart of the Brecon Beacons National Park is a strikingly different experience to last few days as we enter a sparsely populated, wild and open landscape characterised by far reaching views, huge skies and, what people who don’t ride bikes often describe as, “rolling” hills!

We begin the day with a gentle, leg-warming, three miles of climbing which is quickly followed by a succession of ups and downs. By the time we’ve pedalled 15 miles, the road, and the hillside, seem to fall away beneath us as we reach a ridge overlooking the unrealistically steep walled valley of Afon Senni.

As we know, what goes down must also go up, so after carefully negotiating the sharp switchbacks that lead us down to the valley floor and the tiny hamlet of Heol Senni, it isn’t long before we‘re pushing ourselves up the equally sharp but thankfully short, climb on the opposite side.

By now the theme of the day has been well and truly set and the dragon’s tooth profile just keeps on giving as we pedal onwards through the wilderness of the Beacons, up and over the numerous small climbs, past the remote lakes and through the sporadic small villages. 

Day 6
Rhigos Mountain and The Rhondda Valleys
47 Miles / 75 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,300 Metres Approx.

The Rhondda actually flows through two enormous U-shaped glacial valleys and today, our figure-of-eight-shaped route allows us travel through each of them.

Firstly though we have to reach them, which we do via three climbs, the third of which, Rhigos Mountain, with its broad sweeping hairpins close to the summit, is the most dramatic and most significant. 

After a similarly dramatic and significant decent we arrive in the town of Treorchy in Rhondda Fawr (Big Rhondda) and continue through Gelli and then onwards, after rising over a steep ridge, into Rhondda Fach (Little Rhondda) and the towns of Ferndale & Maerdy.

The dense urbanisation and the incredibly long terraces that line the narrow floors of the valleys come as something of a surprise having spent the last few days in such sparsely populated countryside, but it isn’t long before we‘re rising out of them into more familiar, rural terrain.

We end the day with a gradual 13 mile climb that leads us back to the hotel.

Day 7
Brecon Loop
44 Miles / 70 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,100 Metres Approx.

For the first section of our final day on the bikes we retrace, in reverse, some of the roads we explored during our transition from Usk earlier in the week. Once past the reservoirs and having crossed the swing bridge at Talybont however, despite being back in the Usk Valley for a short time, we find ourselves on new and unexplored roads.

From Talybont the roads undulate in a generally upwards direction until we reach the Brecon, the bustling little market town which lent its name to the whole region.

Beyond Brecon the road rises once again and leads us onto the lovely green expanse of Mynydd Illtud Common before one last up and over back to the hotel at Nant Ddu.

Day 8
Departure: Transfer to Llangybi, Usk
Non Riding Day
  • Meals: Breakfast

Alas we have reached the end of our adventure and all that remains is to enjoy a final breakfast and transfer back to our first hotel in Usk from where drivers can collect their vehicles and from where those travelling by train will be transferred a little further to the train station in Newport.

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The Cycling

Terrain

This tour explores two rather different regions of Southern Wales, each with its own contrasting terrain characteristics, ranging from short and sometimes steep climbs, to more evenly graded longer mountain ascent and gentler, rolling hills.

Road surfaces can vary quite dramatically within just a few miles and whilst many are generally good, as is the case in all rural regions, it is not uncommon to encounter occasional gravelly sections, potholes and some poorer surfaces in some areas. Similarly, cattle grids, wandering sheep and other livestock are frequent features.

For the most part, small, quiet country lanes have been chosen however we do occasionally venture onto larger busier roads. Traffic levels are generally low but can increase during holiday periods and rush hours. The centre-based nature of this particular tour dictates that we will ride out from, and back to, our hotels via the same few roads on multiple occasions. Whilst we will do our best to schedule the riding to avoid rush hours it may be impossible to avoid short periods of heavier/fast moving traffic on occasions. 

Good bike handling skills, a reasonable level of fitness and competency/experience in traffic are required.

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Road Cycling Grade

1
2
3
4
5
Grade 3 - 4: Moderate/ Challenging

Moderate to Challenging. For more regular riders who like to push themselves a little from time to time. Not extreme but certainly challenging on occasions with some good climbing opportunities. Distances between 80-120km per day.

Our grading guidelines have been carefully created based on our many years of cycling experience, as well as customer feedback from our trips. Of course, if you're still struggling to figure out where you fit on the scale, do feel free to give us a quick call and we'll be more than happy to help!

For more information about our grading system click here.

Is this suitable for you?

You’re an enthusiast. Road cycling is probably your main hobby and you ride regularly at weekends, staying on the bike for much of the day. You’re in pretty good shape, and you might also participate in cylo-sportive events. You also love a challenge and are looking for a tour with some good climbing, preferably with an opportunity to tick off some famous Tour de France cols, or the like. You’re a competent descender, and you’re not afraid of speed, but you ride safely and within your limits at all times. You understand road etiquette and you’re comfortable riding in a bunch. You might even take a stint at the front of the pack if the need arises.

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Dates & Prices

*

Late Availability

We want you to know which holidays are coming up soon, so you don’t miss out! If a trip has this symbol beside it, it means you don’t have long to snap up your place.

Private Departures

Private Departures

Are you keen to only travel with your family or friends? Struggling to find the right date? Well, we can organise a private departure for this tour and tailor aspects to suit your group's specific needs. Contact our friendly team and we'll help you turn your dream into reality.

Start Date
End Date
Duration
Price p.p.
Start Date
* 18/07/2021
Guaranteed
Return Date
25/07/2021
Duration
8 days
Price
£1,575.00
Start Date
* 08/08/2021
Guaranteed
Return Date
15/08/2021
Duration
8 days
Price
£1,575.00

Whats Included Tick

A) Accommodation (shared twin / double en-suite rooms)

B) Meals as per the itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)

C) Full tour service, including Skedaddle guides

D) Unless stated, at least one leader qualified in first aid

E) Support vehicle and luggage transfers

F) Train station transfer on scheduled arrival day from Newport Station

G) Train station transfer on scheduled departure day to Newport Station

What's not Included Cross

A) Bike hire (available if required)

B) Flights and charges for travelling with your bike (if applicable)

C) Meals not stated in the itinerary

D) Single room (available if required)

E) Travel insurance

F) Personal clothing and equipment

G) Personal expenditure (souvenirs, bar bills, hotel facilities etc)

H) Entrance fees to museums and other attractions en-route

I) Train station transfers on days other than the scheduled arrival / departure days

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The Essentials

Travel Options

The arrival point is Llangybi, Usk where, if you choose to drive, you will be able to leave your car for the duration of the trip. If travelling by train we ask that you arrive into and depart from Newport Train Station. Train station transfers are included in the holiday cost and there will be a Skedaddle transfer at 15.00 from the train station to our accommodation.

At the end of the holiday there will be a morning group transfer from the second hotel back to the first so that drivers can collect their cars. A second transfer from the hotel in Usk, back to Newport train station, will then be made. Please do not book a return train before 13.00.

Please contact us for the suggested arrival and departure times for your holiday and before making any travel arrangements, to make sure we have reached the minimum number required to guarantee your holiday and to ensure your arrangements fit with our scheduled transfers and logistics.

Please note – If you make alternative travel arrangements, which fall outside of the group schedule, there may be an additional charge for individual transfers.

Accommodation

On this southern Wales holiday we stay in two lovely boutique spa hotels. With swimming pools and excellent restaurants at both locations, they provide a great base for our riding, as well as a relaxing place to unwind after a day in the saddle.

Our trips are operated on a twin-share basis but single rooms can be provided, subject to availability, for a supplement if requested at the time of booking.

Bike Hire

If you don’t own a suitable bike or would prefer to avoid bringing your own we have road bikes available to hire. These bikes are typically Giant Contend, great bikes with good quality components. If you do decide to hire and would like us to provide a helmet for you too, please let us know at time of booking, otherwise you should bring your own helmet with you. Please do also let us know if you plan on bringing your own clip-in pedals, or if you will use the flat pedals which our hire bikes come fitted with.

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News, Reviews & Stories

A day in the life on a cycling holiday

Eat, ride, relax, repeat! We take a trip inside the mind of a cyclist as they navigate their day on tour...

Meet the team: David Hall

We caught up with our chief road cycling connoisseur for a little Q&A...

Our 26 favourite days in the saddle

What is the best day you can experience? Well, our expert team has some ideas...

Reviews

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