Brechfa Forest – Green Route

Not that far from my home is the extensive Brechfa Forest which is becoming well known for its Mountain Biking.  The routes cover those suitable for the beginner (more of that later!) to the most severe.

I drove to the start at Byrgwm Forestry centre where there are lots of parking and a couple of portaloos.  I was not the first and when I returned there quite a few cars parked up.

As a raw beginner I chose to ride the Green Route and was not sure what to expect.  The following is a general guide for a Green Route

Beginner/novice cyclists – that’s me.
Relatively flat and wide, may include short flowing single track sections – note the word “may”
Climbs and descents are mostly shallow, no challenging features – sounds good to me.
Suitable for most people in good health – well apart from the knee, I should be OK.

It starts uphill straightaway but nothing too bad and well sign posted.

 

I soon left the wide forestry track and onto a single track route.

 

This looked like fun, although the downhill bits meant a cautious use of the brakes.  At one point on the route I met a father and son pushing their bikes up from the river below – they had missed the signpost!. We kept passing each other for the rest of the route.  My main concern would be holding up those who were in a rush, but luckily, although I met increasing numbers, I never met that problem.

There are plenty of views to use as an excuse for a rest, but I am pleased to say at no time did I wuss out on a hill.  Having said that the black route is no doubt a different kettle of fish and probably will remain off limits to me.

 

On the green Route there are a number of benches and two shelters.  I made use of one of the former for an extended break and then continued on to the car park.

It took about 2 hours and very enjoyable and more importantly no ill effects on the knee.  I still wish this was the case for walking.

 

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Stop to Procedures

Following a major knee ioncident prior to Easter 2012, my walking has come to end (hopefully just for now).  Off to see a (no doubt pricey) consultant on 8th June to see what can be done.  Thankfully I have found that cycling is pain free – see http://randombikerides.blogspot.co.uk/

Also hope that I can keep canoeing albeit not kneeling.

AN UNWANTED STOP TO PROCEDURES

Just before Easter 2012, my knee gave way and now walking has come to an end.  Off to see (no doubt pricy) private consultant on 8th June to see what can be done.

Thankfully I have discovered that cycling has no apparent affect to my knee and certainly no pain. I will also see if canoeing without kneeling is suitable.  I always tend to kneel.

Anyway cycle stuff can be found at http://randombikerides.blogspot.co.uk/

Tumble Railway Path (Part of Route 47)

This part of Route 47 uses the old railway track from Cross Hands to Llanelli.  Today I cycled from Tumble to Cross hands and back and then 4 miles towards Llanelli and back to Tumble.

Route

On the way back from Cross hands I made a slight detour along a rough path which leads down into Mynydd Mawr Woodland Park.  There are two interpretation boards explaining the history of the area.  Just as it is now, mainly countryside, so it was back in the day.  Then coal was discovered and the whole area became a busy industrial area.

 

There is also a mention of the Rebecca Riots and of one person being sent to Australia for being a member.  His statue is in the park in Tumble.

On the way to Llanelli there are views overlooking the Gwendraeth Valley where again mining was a huge industry, but now nothing remains.

 

Instead I came across the building of a new source of energy – a solar farm.  I hope they know this is West Wales, well known for rain!

I came across the cyclists main enemy, two farm dogs who came running down a field to see if I could become something worth chasing.  However I stopped and spoilt their fun.

After 4 miles cycling towards Llanelli I turned for home.

This looks like a good day trip for there and back using the whole path.

National Botanic Garden of Wales Circular

Now that my interest in biking has been rekindled after a substantial period,mainly forced on me because of a knee problem, my friend Chris has lent me a bike (mountain bike type) to see how I get on before parting with cash.  An update on the knee is that because of inordinate delays by NHS (seven months for the first consultation) I now have an appointment on 8th June at a local private hospital.  What happens then remains to be seen.

As it was a nice day I thought I would try out the bike on a short ride not far from my home.

Route here

I loaded the bike onto the bike rack, something which has been gathering dust in the garage and drove to the start point. I could have probably ridden the bike there but at this point in the game I didn’t fancy the long climb home – a few more rides yet.

The start was just outside Porthyrhyd and onto route 47 which was off road to the entrance to the National Botanic Garden of Wales  (NBGW) and then continued on route 47 on a cycle/walking path on the outskirts of NBGW.

 

 

 

At the Corporate entrance the route moves onto quiet lanes up and down and finally back to the car.

En route there were some nice views of the Carmarthenshire countryside which of course  I had to stop and admire.

 

 

 

I discovered the fun of downhill free wheeling and unfortunately the puff of uphill.

Again there were no problems with the knees and so, more riding to come.

Bluestone

I decided to start this blog as it maybe the new way of getting outdoors following a knee problem which is currently affecting my walking trips.

A physio suggested that an exercise bike may help as there is less pressure on the knees, frankly sat in a room pedaling and going nowhere is not my idea of fun.

At the beginning of May we were fortunate to win a holiday at Bluestone in Pembrokeshire. If my walking Navigator is reading this he will be swearing as he has strong views on Bluestone  as it was partly built within the National Park contrary to everything such a park stands for.

Anyway I have few principles and off we went. This would be an opportunity to hire a bike and see how the knee reacted.  I thought I would just pootle around the site, but it was not to be.

The hire bikes are typical mountain bikes for mainly off road use.  The chap fitted me up with something approaching the right size, gave me a map of suggested routes and wished me luck.

Bluestone is surrounded by woods and all of the routes to a greater or lesser degree use forestry tracks and old green lanes.

Now I had not ridden a bike in anger for a considerable time and there was a certain amount of time taken in getting used to the myriad of gears and their levers not to mention balance.

My first thought was to ride down to Blackpool Mill where from past memory they served a decent cuppa and cake and by then I would at least know if I should turn back and reclaim my deposit.

Immediately I was on a rough track leading down through a forest track which soon joined a wider forestry road with less steepness! However with on reaching the Mill I found it was shut and looked like it would be that way for some time.  Any canoeists reading this need to take note as there is a good paddle from Landshipping up the Eastern Cleddau to Blackpool Mill – you will now need your own refreshments.

Anyway, now what? Well I returned up the forestry track and kept straight on  as this was fairly flat and easy going. I decided to take the red route as described on the Bluestone map which if I had no problems would head towards Templeton, across the old airfield and meander its way back to Canaston Woods and home, approximately 9.5 miles.  There were some escape routes to shorten the trip but I would see how it went.

On leaving Canaston Woods, which follows the Knights Way, I crossed the road and continued on the Knights Way, an improved track, riding through the first ford of the day. The track contained a number of up hills which saw my legs flying around in the lowest gears I could find.  A lesson was learned in that starting from a standstill in the lowest gear can evolve almost immediately into “wheelie”!

 

There were some views back over to Narberth and a welcome camera break was had.

I came across my second ford on this track which took some concentration not helped by two dogs who came running out of the adjacent farm intent on giving me some grief.

Another minor road was crossed which led into a delightful lane which led to the disused airfield, at least by aeroplanes.

It is still used by the MOD and there are dire warnings about not touching suspicious metal fragments. I did come across at least two lots of army personnel who seemed to be involved with communications judging by the aerials surrounding their encampment.

Anyway I stuck to the sign posted route and for a short way joined a B road with more traffic than I had experienced so far.  Thankfully it was only about half a mile when I turned north onto a minor road towards Washfield Farm, over the A road to Molleston Cross.

Here I turned left onto a track which soon became a fairly steep descent on rougher ground and eventually leads back into Canaston Woods and back to Bluestone.

The good news was that my knee gave me no trouble, although other parts of my anatomy had aches and pains!

I now need to try more bike rides and if the knee behaves, looks like some money may have to be spent.  A quick web search shows there are a myriad of bikes to choose from and a wider range of prices.