AUGUST 31, 2015 - I set off around 7 am on a grey Monday morning heading up through the Sirhowy Valley towards Tredegar. I would then turn east toward Brynmawr and across the Heads of the Valley. My overall plan was to cycle up to the village of Kington where I was to meet the other fellas on Tuesday morning. I had the entire day to myself and the 60 mile journey.
The skies were thick with low heavy clouds as I cycled through a fine mist for the first couple of hours. However, just being on my bike... having it loaded with all my gear was incredibly exciting and overshadowed any concern for rain. It's a steady climb to Brynmawr where you feel as if you're on top of the world.
Riding out of Brynmawr and down into Clydach Gorge is simply stunning. The cycle paths are unmatched anywhere in Wales. As many times as I've been here, I cannot help but pause to take a few photos.
I completed the first leg of my trip coming down the mountain from Clydach Gorge into Gilwern. It's a short and fast drop of over 1.000 feet in just over 3 miles. A fabulous glide with continuous views over the valley toward Abergavenny and Sugarloaf Mountain. Once down, I then moved onto a proper road and headed west passing first through Crickhowell and onto Llangynidr.
|Kingfishers to Kington (pt. 1)|
|Location:||Oakdale to Kington|
|Approx. Time:||8 - 9.5 hrs.|
|Elevation Gain:||+3541 ft. / -3839 ft.|
I crossed the historic Llangynidr Stone Bridge and turned north again toward Bwlch. It's a helluva climb of 400 feet over 1.5 miles, but once past Bwlch, the road levels out and is lovely and rolling past Llangorse Lake to Talgarth.
Talgarth is a quaint market town at the heart of which features a restored 18th century flour mill. Having travelled just under 40 miles, I stopped here and parked my bike by a bench in the middle of the town square to have my lunch. It's a great place to sit and people-watch. The tourists wander about, poking their heads in doorways and squinting through windows while the locals zip into the small shops waving hello to their neighbours, talking loudly across the road to each other, and glaring with wonder at sweaty men with strange bicycles eating bananas in the centre of town.
The Wye valley is wide and flat heading out from Talgarth to the undisputed book capital of the Uk, Hay on Wye.
Hay on Wye needs little introduction. It's generally quite busy with tourists taking up the streets such that cycling is simply impossible. Even pushing my bike through the crowds was considerably difficult though many people stopped to ask of my journey. "Where ya going?" Followed by; "How long have ya been on the road" and then with a look of shock; "With all that on your bike?"
Whitney Bridge was a complete surprise. I came around a corner to see a short line of traffic waiting for some unseen delay ahead... and then as I slowly pedalled forward, inching along behind the cars... SURPRISE! It's an adorable little wooden toll bridge. £1 for cars; FREE for cyclists! Woohoo! Plus they have a cute camp-ground with canoe rentals right along the shore.
The remainder of my trip was rather uneventful. I had to take a short detour due to some road construction. I missed a turn because I just wasn't paying attention - a real problem when I get into my "cycling zone".
After nine hours and 60 miles I finally rode down into Kington about 4 pm. I snaked through town to the little camp-ground of Fleece Meadows. I set up camp, then went back into town for supplies. By 6:30 the sun had come out and I was having dinner by a stream. A fabulous day.
>> Stay tuned... Kingfishers to Kington (pt. 2) is coming soon!
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