Sunday, 13 May 2012

Rhymney Overnighter

So, me and my friend and associate, Ell-Dogg, rigged up our mountain bikes to be sweet bike-packing machines and went to a whole different country. Here's our route. We hopped on the (doddering) train to Rhymney , which sits in a valley to the East of Merthyr Tydfil. It seems to be populated by exclusively teens and friendly drunken men with impenetrable accents. We rode out of Rhymney through Trefil , into the darkness of the Moors, Mynydd Llangynidr and Cefn yr Ystrad, all the while being moisted upon by the prevailing wetness.

Riding into open countryside, we turned off the track and onto a bridal-way that led into a forest, thinking we'd be able to go off the path far enough for secrecy in the forest. This turned out to be an impossibility, prevented by the slope and rocky outcrops. So, instead, we rode along the bridal-way , the world reduced to the balls of light from our headlamps, which made the already challenging single-track even more interesting especially when the fence was strewn uselessly halfway down the valley-side. In day-time, this track would be a lot of fun to ride. Eventually we found a wider spot of path and made camp, fire and drunkenness.

Here's the views from the camp-site, the next morning;

Elliot dicking around, as usual;

Myself doing very important things, and being cold, from Ell's perspective;

A little way up the trail, the path became much gentler. Elliot attempts to ambush a waterfall;

I attempt to ambush my bike;

We left the forest, and the valley opened up before us to reveal the Cefn yr Ystrad quarries.

One of Elliot's shots of the same trail, cropped to a square format because he's too cool for school;

Looking toward Tor y Foel;

Looking towards Bryniau Gleision :

This photos shows the tail-end of the green-lane that bisects Bryniau Gleision and really doesn't do it justice - it was great, gunning it along this track, the ruts and undulations along this route made it awesome fun. I didn't stop to take a picture, it was just too much damn fun.

We head off the marked paths to get onto the footpath, which involved some bog-slogging fun, although this was expected and didn't last long. The footpath we reached would lead us to the peak of Pant y Creigiau was pretty spongey.

Another of Elliot's, looking towards the ridges of Pen y Fan;

Not my idea. The view towards Pen y Fan from the trig point of Pant y Creigiau :

We pitched the bikes and gear in a forest, hoped no-one would rob them, and shoed it up Craig y Fan Ddu , along the Nant Bwrefwr.

Yet another waterfall. Jeez, Brecons, get some originality:


From the east edge of Craig y Fan Ddu , looking north toward Graig Fan Las. It was windy as a mother-fucker. IMGP9800

I love peat bogs, unless I get lost in one.

Elliot's innovative jacket storage solution (IJSS) continued to evolve throughout the outing;


The Red Cow, a great pub in Pontsticill. A few good beers, nice atmosphere, relatively cheap and an open fire, which you don't appreciate properly until your shoes and socks have been sodden for a night and day;


Looking towards lovely Merthyr Tydfil from Merthyr Common;

On the road back to Rhymney;

This was a damn fun trip for the most part, some of the trails were excellent, there some great sights across the valleys and a couple of half-decent photos. I'll definitely be returning to this area, and try and link some of the fun bits of trail. My trip from last December took a route that was close to what me and Elliot rode on this overnighter, and sections could be joined together to make a sweet circular route out of Merthyr or Rhymney.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Treherbert Slog

I went back to Treherbert with high hopes, but they were rapidly dashed on a combination of ludicrously rocky and sodden trails, dreary forest timber trails, dull weather and (my own) poor navigation. Unlike my other posts I'm not going to write this one up with a map and full description. Suffice to say, I've yet to find the hidden Welsh gems I was hoping, although the pervasive rain we've been having as of late probably didn't help the trail situation, which was almost comically moist for lengthy sections of the path.

Heading Northwest out of Treherbert and into Tynewydd, then Blaencwm, I started riding the singletrack bridleway leading up Cwm Selsig. It was nearly perfect terrain. For about five seconds, until I encountered this;


Many of the paths leading up the valley were rocky as all hell, and appeared to funnel small streams along them such as the one below. Occasionally the streams would pool into path-dominating puddles.

The views from the top of the valley escarpment are pretty good though; IMGP9218

Eventually, I came off the main path and intersected with the Skyline Trail at Afan forest park. At this stage, the trail was running along timber tracks going through Dunraven forest . I entered Dunraven forest and was forbidden by forestry commision signs to enter various parts of it. Dunraven forest is about as dreary and featureless as it's possible to be.

One section of track had brush piled on it, which was slightly more ridable than it looks;

I'm bitching because I picked the most rain sodden April to explore this area which made the paths far more challenging than they'd otherwise be, and then I got lost in a dreary forest. There is, however, interesting stuff to see;

My shoes were sodden through, and I forgot my dry socks, so I improvised with plastic bags on the train back.