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Cyclist Best of British: No. 6 Snowdonia

In-depth
31 Jul 2020
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Words: Jack Elton-Walters Photography: Juan Trujillo Andrades

Stop in a cafe on your ride around Snowdonia and most likely you’ll be greeted in Welsh first and English second, but only when your confused look gives you away as a visitor.

Of course, the welcome will be no less warm for the change of language. The roads will be less accommodating, however, as the climbs around Snowdonia can be brutal but always rewarding.

The weather can play its part too with heavy rain coming in off the Irish Sea a constant threat, like marauding Danes attacking Wales in the centuries before any notion of a United Kingdom.

That modern UK can offer up many great riding locations from most of its regions, but as these routes show much of the best of British is to be found outside of England, particularly the southeast.

That Welsh rain just makes the summits all the more welcome and the rider all the more deserving of reaching their peaks. When the cloud breaks and the views open up, you’ll be left wondering why you hadn’t ridden here sooner.

Komoot pioneer Rob Marshall has put together two routes in the area, taking in the best Snowdonia has to offer. At 123km and 88km, these rides can be done back-to-back over a weekend, the perfect two-wheeled escape from homeworking and daytime television.

There are climbs, stunning views and the all important cafe stops. Double-digit percentages are common for the climbs and descents around here so ensure you’ve got the gears – and the legs! – when heading to this part of Wales.

Every climb is rewarded with the dual-prize of stunning views and exciting descents, but don’t let the former distract you from the latter as you’ll need your wits about you for some of the more technical downs following the grinding ups.

The second ride the komoot pioneer has put together is the Bwlch y Groes – Hellfire Pass.

‘This route has two of my favourite things: big hills and big lakes,’ Marshall explains. ‘After leaving Bala you'll first tackle the Hirnant Pass which starts relatively gently as it winds up the valley but then ramps up as you near the top. This is a beautiful climb bottom to top though.

‘Once you have descended the pass you get to enjoy the quiet roads around Lake Vyrnwy.

‘Returning to Bala you'll head over Bwlch y Groes, which is the second highest road pass in Wales and really takes no prisoners with an average gradient of over 14%.

‘This is the kind of ride you definitely deserve a coffee (or beer) when you make it back to Bala.’

Which is where you’ll find those friendly Welsh welcomes, along with a well deserved lunch, and as Rob says, maybe a beer.

Top tip

The road to LLyn Stwlan reservoir culminates in a flurry of tight hairpins that will have you thinking you’re in the Alps, not north Wales. Best of all, the road ends at the reservoir, so you have no choice but to enjoy it all again on the way back down.  

• If you are new to komoot, it is offering a free regional bundle (worth £8.99). Simply follow this link to komoot and create your free account today. Alternatively, head to komoot and enter the voucher code BESTOFBRITISH. Valid until 31.12.2020

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