In the big green spaces of the Cambrian Mountains uplands, there are places cars can’t go. Which is a very good thing, in our book. Our long-distance trails along The Cambrian Way are better on horseback, bike or foot.
In Glyndŵr’s footsteps
Glyndŵr’s Way is a 135-mile (217km) National Trail that takes a highly indirect (but very scenic route) between Welshpool and Knighton. It’s a generous meander through moorland, farmland, woodland and forests across the breadth of Mid Wales. You can walk the whole thing in nine days, or break it into shorter hops. The man himself, Owain Glyndŵr, is a national hero whose royal standard you’ll still see flying from flagpoles. The last native Welshman to hold the title Prince of Wales, he led a major rebellion in the early 1400s before mysteriously vanishing.
Two wheels, off-road
Mountain biking is big in Wales. It goes with having lots of big mountains, we suppose. Mountain Bike Wales is an exhaustive guide, divided into Centres (our seven purpose-built facilities), Bases (areas that are rich in mapped routes) and Trails (suggested tours). Many of them slash across The Cambrian Way. And special kudos to the lads from Gloucestershire who devised their own off-road Trans Cambrian Way from Knighton to Aberdyfi, and were public-spirited enough to make a website about it. Thank you. You can come again.
Two wheels, on-road
Up for a challenge? Lôn Las Cymru runs for over 250 miles (400km) down the length of Wales from Holyhead to Chepstow or Cardiff. Most of it’s on quiet lanes or cycle paths that take you over three mountain ranges and two National Parks. What’s more, the Lôn Las connects with all the other Sustrans routes in its 1,200-mile (1,930km) Welsh network.
The Cambrian Way is neatly intersected by the National Rail network at the top, middle and bottom by major train lines. But there’s something endearingly heroic about the Heart of Wales line, which chugs between Llanelli and Shrewsbury, cutting a mazy path through the farming heartlands. Flat landscapes are hard to come by here, so viaducts and tunnels lend a hand where necessary. Most rural branch lines were closed in the 1960s, but this one survived, somehow. It’s worth cherishing.
In the uplands, Welsh ponies and cobs were always an essential part of everyday life. Some farmers still use ponies to go places where quad bikes can’t. There are plenty of riding and trekking centres along The Cambrian Way, offering everything from half-day treks to the epic Trans Wales Trail, a week-long ride from the Black Mountains to the Irish Sea, across the whole width of Wales.