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Wales - Carmarthenshire and the Brecon Beacons

Guided Road Cycling Holiday

Grade

1
2
3
4
5

Duration

8 days

Prices from

$2,180 P.P.
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We had an overwhelmingly enthusiastic reaction to our new Southern Wales Monmouthshire tour and lots of requests for a more full-on Brecon Beacons experience. So, we are delighted to introduce this brand-new Carmarthenshire edition.
 
Following a similar format, we'll spend our time split between two boutique hotels, this time starting in Nant Ddu, just a few miles north of Merthyr Tydfil, and finishing in Llandeilo in the western reaches of the Brecon Beacons National Park.
 
For the first few days we will explore the dramatic, wild and wonderful landscape of the Brecon Beacons central region, testing our stamina and climbing abilities on some of the same roads where 2018 Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas honed his skills.
 
Midweek we will enjoy a beautiful transition ride, as we leave the central region behind us and head for a slightly softer, greener and more rolling landscape to the west of the National Park.
 
Basing ourselves in the small town of Llandeilo we spend the second half of the week exploring a beautiful land of rolling green hillsides, river valleys, castles, and quaint villages and towns.
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Highlights

  • 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
  • The lush green rolling landscapes and leafy lanes of Carmarthenshire and the Tywi River Valley
  • Quaint villages, small towns and imposing hilltop castles

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Itinerary

Day 1
Arrival: Nant Ddu, Merthyr Tydfil
Non Riding Day

Participants travelling by train will be picked up and transferred from Merthyr Tydfil 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 arrival day, however those arriving early enough can choose between a short orientation ride around the roads surrounding the hotel, a rural hike or just relaxing and taking advantage of the hotel’s spa facilities.

Day 2
Introduction to the Beacons
49 Miles / 79 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1400 Metres Approx.

Our first ride into the heart of the Brecon Beacons National Park introduces us to a sparsely populated, wild and open landscape characterised by far reaching views, huge skies and the scenic Brecon hills.

We begin the day with a gentle leg-warming three miles of climbing 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. 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 3
Rhigos Mountain & The Rhondda Valleys
47 Miles / 75 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1300 Metres Approx.

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

First 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 significant.

After a similarly dramatic and significant descent we arrive in the town of Treorchy in Rhondda Fawr (Big Rhondda). We 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 4
Nant Ddu to Llandeilo
58 Miles / 93 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1300 Metres Approx.

Having spent three evenings and two full days enjoying some of the best riding in the central Beacons region, it’s time to change locations and scenery as we head west and into the heart of Carmarthenshire.

Our scenic transition ride takes in three stunningly beautiful reservoirs within the first 20 miles, the second and third of which are separated by a short but challenging little climb between the tiny hamlets of Torpantau and Abercynafon. Beyond the third reservoir we reach the village of Talybont, where the tiny swing bridge crossing the canal marks a change in direction as we start heading for the bustling little market town of Brecon.

As soon as we’ve passed through the town which lent its name to whole region, the road rises once again and leads us onto the lovely green expanse of Mynydd Illtud Common. Soon after, we continue along a network of quiet country lanes, the last 14 miles of which head downhill, leading us through the village of Bethlehem and ultimately to our home for the next few days in the centre of Llandeilo.

Day 5
Tywi Valley & Llandovery
50 Miles / 80 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1000 Metres Approx.

Our day begins with a gently undulating ten mile warm up along a section of the Tywi (or Towy) River, the longest river flowing entirely within Welsh borders. After we cross the Tywi at the village of Nantgaredig, it’s time to start climbing out of the valley and up towards the dense coniferous Brechfa forest.

The somewhat spiky sawtooth profile continues until approximately 50kms into the ride, when finally we start lowering back down towards the Tywi Valley bottom and the town of Llandovery. As we leave Llandovery we take a left-hand detour onto a country lane that leads us up and over the beautiful, lush green Cilgwyn Hill.

The descent on the other side of Cilgwyn spits us out at the village of Llangadog after which all that remains is to roll back, via Bethlehem, to Llandeilo.

Day 6
Cray Reservoir Loop
66 Miles / 106 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1200 Metres Approx.

Today we begin by retracing the latter part of yesterday’s ride, heading away from Llandeilo via Bethlehem, Llangadog and an opportunity to enjoy the lovely Cilgwyn from the other side. When we reach Llandovery however we begin riding on different roads, heading for Trecastle as we rise gently for the next 10 miles.

Two steep climbs follow, and take us high up into the Beacons whereupon reaching Cray Reservoir we commence a glorious 10 mile descent to the village of Gurnos. 

Another minor climb through a series of small towns and villages brings us to Upper Brynamman where, in order to avoid a busy road, we join a beautiful asphalt covered riverside cycle path, which leads us to Ammanford where we rejoin the public road leading back to our hotel.

Day 7
Climbs and Castles
58 Miles / 94 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1400 Metres Approx.

We’ve reached the final day on the bikes and, as might be expected with a route crammed with big climbs, massive views, beautiful scenery and ruined castles, we’ve saved the best until last!

We head out of town on the now comfortably familiar Bethlehem road. Taking a right just before Llangadog, we commence the first, and possibly most challenging, climb of the day. The magnificent views, and the prospect of a 10 mile descent once over the summit, are just enough to keep our minds off the heat that’s building in our legs, and before long we can enjoy some respite as the road and the horizon fall away beneath us.

Some of the climb that follows may feel familiar, as we descended part of it yesterday after reaching Cray Reservoir, although we have considerably more time to enjoy the scenery today as we pull ourselves slowly up the 13 miles to the summit.

For the final 20 miles of our adventure we enjoy yet more thrilling descents and gorgeous views virtually all the way back to Llandeilo, where we spend one final celebratory evening.

Day 8
Departure: Transfer to Nant Ddu, Merthyr Tydfil
Non Riding Day
  • Meals: Breakfast

Alas, it is time to call an end to our adventure, and all that remains is to enjoy a final breakfast and transfer back to our first hotel in Nant Ddu. From here drivers can collect their vehicles and those travelling by train will be transferred a little further to the train station in Merthyr Tydfil.

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The Cycling

Terrain

This tour explores two of 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 ascents 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

Distances between 50-75 miles / 80-120km per day

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

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

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.

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 Merthyr Tydfil Station Station

G) Train station transfer on scheduled departure day to Merthyr Tydfil 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 Nant Ddu just a few miles north of Merthyr Tydfil, 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 Merthyr Tydfil 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 Nant Ddu back to Merthyr Tydfil 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 hotels. With a spa and swimming pool at our first accommodation, 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

Reasons to ride your bike in Wales

Discover the seven reasons to have your next cycling holiday in Wales and what makes it the perfect road destination...

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...

Reviews

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