Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Sirhowy Valley Country Park and the Rhymney Valley Ridgeway – Moderate – 12 Miles

We parked at the Full Moon visitor centre just off the roundabout at the junction of the A467 and the A4048 (near Risca). So far so good. The visitor centre looked pretty shut up but the toilets were open.

Return to the roundabout and take the first exit. Take the first right into Newtown Industrial Estate. After the river turn right into Cobden Street. About ¾ mile later take the first right, cross the river and then fork right immediately
It took us about five minutes to get away from the houses and industrial estates. Then we began the LONG uphill slog. We rode and walked almost all the way to the top of the Rhymney Valley Ridgeway. It was quite sunny and sweat was pouring down my face.

After a descent and another climb, cross a cattle grid and turn immediately left onto a broad gravel track
After a welcome descent a rocky path took us right up to the ridge. The views are lovely. You can see the industry towns nestling on the valley floor and the spectacular hills stretching into the distance.

Follow the track for four miles, aiming for the mast. When the track splits three ways, keep to the right
Downhill rocky track – brilliant! Fast and bumpy! You might need a bit of confidence here but it makes all the uphill TOTALLY worth it. I couldn’t help whooping. Near the mast we stopped for a break and some left over Easter egg, and realised that my saddle had almost fallen off – that could have been nasty if I’d gone flying at that speed and with no proper protection on elbows or knees. Note to self - invest in elbow and knee pads.

Once onto the tarmac road, just before the golf club, take the second right signposted to Wyllie. Continue down hill and turn right, again sign posted to Wyllie
This fast road downhill was brilliant fun and easy.

When you get to Wyllie continue straight on all the way to the Sustrans route. Follow the route for five miles back to the visitor centre
The Sustrans route is easy and flat. Unfortunately there had been a land slide and the diversion was not all that easy to follow. At first we tried going off on a narrow path to the right – but it was very rocky and muddy. Good for technical practice but I got my foot entirely stuck in mud. Try again. This time we went back to diversion sign like the geniuses that we are. This directed us down into the village below. We past a handy shop and bought much needed extra supplies. Friendly people could tell we looked a little confused and told us the way – right through the village, then across a bridge and back up on to the Sustrans route. We rolled, exhausted, all the way back to the car.

I loved this ride. The hard work at the start was so worth the trouble for the reward of the long varied downhill. I want to do this one again.

K-Rating: KKK

For more information see ‘Gower, South Wales Valleys and Lower Wye’ (Mountain Bike Guide) by Nick Cotton.