On your bike! Cycling in Wales

If you are looking for scenic cycle routes Wales took our fancy with some cheap hostels where you can get your laundry done and keep luggage to a minimum. Ok, so you do have to do the pedalling but we’ve done the OTHER hard bit for you: plotting the bike tour on our very own cycling maps which you can zoom in for more detail, find our recommended detours as well as hostels in Wales en route. You are welcome!

Swansea to Fishguard

Quiet roads and traffic-free bike trails on a ride from Swansea to Fishguard using one of the Sustrans Cycle routesNational Cycle Network route 4, also known as the Celtic Trail West. The journey includes the Millennium Coastal Park near Llanelli, the Brunel Trail which follows a disused railway line and some gorgeous stretches of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park with miles and miles of sandy beaches.

Distance: Approx 130 miles
Grade: Easy-medium. Cycling in Wales can be hilly but the views certainly take your mind off the climbs! Families can restrict the cycle to the 18-mile Millennium Coastal Path.
Getting to Swansea: Hourly departures from London Paddington (3 hours) with First Great Western trains. Bike reservations are essential for peak periods. Book your bike onto the train at the station or call 08457 000 125.

(Click on the map for a detailed route)

Bike Trail

You’ll have no problem leaving the somewhat depressing town centre in Swansea, the second largest city in Wales. But you can say your goodbyes in style skirting around the stunning Swansea Bay and through the pretty Mumbles neighbourhood. If you stay overnight in Swansea, I recommend exploring around here, taking in the National Waterfront Museum and the Dylan Thomas Centre.

After crossing the Gower peninsular, you enter into the country of Carmathenshire for your first bit of adventure crossing the River Loughor. After that you join the Millennium Coastal Path, an 18-mile and traffic-free stretch to Kidwelly and overlooked by the River Gwendraeth and the medieval Kidwelly Castle. There are miles of sand dunes and be sure to look over your shoulder for a great view of the Gower Peninsular.

You’ll pedal through Pembrey forest and there is the opportunity to detour slightly to Pembrey Country Park with a sandy beach and cute mini railway. Next up is Carmarthen, a good-looking market town and the place of Arthurian legend and claimed to be the birthplace of Merlin the wizard. Head south to the little town of Llansteffan for a night at the Pantyrathro International Hostel (they have an onsite bar and pool table were you can relax with a coldbeer. The surrounding country lanes make for idyllic cycling and the sandy beach of Llansteffan is 2 miles away.

The next day, I propose a slight detour to visit the home of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas as well as what may be called the most beautiful view in Wales. It is located in the town of Llareggub (what’s that spelt backwards?!) along with the 13th century Llareggub castle overlooking the Taf estuary and Carmarthen Bay. On breezy days, enjoy a pint and pub grub at the New Three Mariners.

Continue south along the Pembrokeshire Coast Path – with stretches of sandy coast on your left  –  all the way to Tenby. It’s a pretty place of painterly Georgian architecture and a busy harbour and while it hasn’t resorted to tacky tourist seaside arcades, it gets very busy in summer. It is also a setting off point for Caldey Island, where monks settled in the sixth century and is now occupied by a small village. It’s a 20-minute boat ride. After Tenby, you veer inland and cut off a corner of the coastline (part of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park) making full speed for Pembroke.

There’s little here to keep you except for a glimpse of the terrifying Norman castle glowering over the south side of the Pembroke River. Leaving Pembroke it’s onwards to pick up the Brunel Trail which links Neyland with Johnston and Haverfordwest. Pick it up at the Marina and follow the Cleddau estuary through Westfield Pill Nature Reserve before joining a disused railway line to Johnston. From there you can continue on a newly-built path running parallel to the railway up to Haverfordwest.

It’s back to join the magnificent Pembrokeshire Coast National Park all the way to St David’s. You might want to continue on for about 20km to our suggested Old School Hostel in Trefin before returning to explore St David’s. It’s a fantastic place to stay a few days (recovering after your cycle!) and explore the area further. There are cliff walks,  hearty pubs for warming lunches and places to surf. The Old School Hostel is full of character and rated 4 stars by the tourist boar. They offer bed and breakfast board from £16 per night per person with free internet. It’s then just 10 miles to Fishguard where you can catch the train home or stay a night at Hamilton Backpackers Lodge.

Thanks to Athena’s Pix Kidwelly Castle and sludgegulper for the images off Flickr. Please note, all images were suitable for use at the time of publication under the Creative Commons License.

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