A month or so ago two friends and myself planned a Welsh bike ride. The fear was that the lingering winter weather would scupper our ride. It turned out that the weather was near perfect for spring, a little cool but constant warm sunshine. Unfortunately Toby, one of the intrepid trio, badly dislocated his shoulder a few weeks ago so Roscoe and I headed to Gorlech, in Brechfa forest, as a pair. More about the ride after the break!
Gorlech is easier of two trails in Brechfa forest, a short drive from Carmarthen starting in the village of Abergorlech. It’s a red rated route, with Raven the black rated alternative, but still has some nice downhill sections that can be taxing enough if you let yourself go. In total it’s a shy over 19km with a total climb of 1km all told. We managed the loop in 2 1/2 hours but truth be told we’d have been half an hour quicker if I hadn’t been stopping every five minutes to take pictures.
The start of the trail is a long slog up a fireroad (lots of those to come) with a tantalising view of the final section with sweeping berms and tabletops.
From the fireroads you’ll break off onto some really nice singletrack, typically flanked by tall pines. I felt like a Roman soldier. In Scandinavia.
The moss covered trees were pretty amazing, although I was busy trying not to collapse due to my lack of fitness and lack of cross country bike.
Despite the sun and slightly milder weather it was still pretty cold – although we didn’t feel it once it has to be said. Plus once you’re within the trees it’s noticeably milder.
All the climbs are worth it though once you get out into the open and see views like this. And then you realise that all that going up means you have to go down, albeit in a much shorter time frame.
Gorlech is one of the best rides I’ve been on in quite a few years. The lack of trail centre isn’t an issue as the local pub, the Black Lion, has a comprehensive menu and a beer garden over looking the River Gorlech. The pub caters for veggies (I checked) and serves a good, cold pint of Stowford Press. There are portaloos in the car park at the trail start but not much else so come prepared. At the end of the Gorlech trail there is an option, before the final descent, to cross over onto the Raven trail – so potentially you can do a near 40km loop. In the time we were on the trail we saw less than half a dozen other cyclists which was pretty amazing given the weather and how good the riding is. I’m guessing Cwmcarn and Afan were much busier, so if you want a more peaceful ride this is a good option.