Introduction

Are you new to cycling? Do you wonder where you can cycle safely and what the conditions are like? Why not try one of our routes? We specialise in short, mainly traffic-free excursions that utilise The National Cycle Network in the Southeast Valleys of Wales.

WALES HERITAGE SERIES
Afon Lwyd Heritage Trail


This is a circular loop which you can cycle in either direction, but I've outlined two primary starting/stopping points from which to chose; Cwmbran Route or Pontypool Route. Regardless of which you choose, your ride will reveal the same lush views of the Afon Lwyd Valley. The ride is not difficult, but long. You should be prepared for being outside the entire day. Though there are places for food, you should bring snacks and plenty of water as well as a good set of waterproofs... this is Wales after all.



Also, I suggest you bring a camera. Most of the places you will cycle are not visible from the road... and you can only see much of what you'll discover by cycling these remote re-purposed rail lines and towpaths. The diversity of landscapes is surprising for such a relatively short distance. And there is a lot to see.


Cwmbran Route
Location: Running clockwise from Cwmbran, to Blaenavon and Clydach Gorge returning along the Monmouth & Brecon Canal
Distance: 38.3 miles (round-trip)
Travel Time: 6 - 7 hours
Ride Level: Advanced+

The Cwmbran Route shown directly below begins and ends at the Cwmbran Train Station. You first cycle up NCN Route 492 four miles through the housing estates of Pontrhydyrun and Giffithstown. Following a near pass to the town centre of Pontypool (a great place to stock up on goodies...), you'll continue uninterrupted on a traffic-free path to Blaenavon and Garn Lakes before dropping down through Clydach Gorge onto NCN Route 46. At Govilon the path changes over to NCN Route 49 and follows along the sleepy Monmouth & Brecon Canal for the remainder of the trip back to Cwmbran.

(NOTE: The second option to begin and end your trip at the Pontypool Train Station reduces the overall route by six miles (and approx. one hour). Description of this route can be found below.

Cycling his route clockwise is my preferred direction of travel for it has all the advantages: 1.) Leaving Pontypool, you'll quickly begin moving through the lush country along the sides of the Afon Lywd Valley. It's a steady climb for the next 10 miles up to Garn Lakes, but at a railroad grade it's quite doable for most novices and families (thumbs up!) 2.) You then have an absolutely incredible eight mile decent through Clydach Gorge and all the way down to Govilon. (both thumbs up!) 3.) The last part of the ride drops onto the M&B Canal for an an easy-peazy 15 mile pedal back down to Cwmbran. (thumbs up again!!)

Select "View Full Route" to see an enlarged version of this route.


ROUTE COLOUR KEY:  Traffic-free  Shared Use  Quiet Road  Steep Hill

Afon Lwyd Trail (Cwmbran Route)
ROUTE METRICS:
Location: Running clockwise from Cwmbran, to Blaenavon and Clydach Gorge returning along the Monmouth & Brecon Canal
Distance: 38.3 mi. (round-trip)
Skill Level: Advanced+
Approx. Time: 6 - 7 hrs.
Elevation Gain: +2124 ft. / -2124 ft.
Max. Grade: 9.6%
Avg. Grade: 0.1%

Mini Gallery
I have to honest as well... this is one of my favourite rides. I've put in a group of photos without any particular order just to give you an idea of what you can see. Also, I prefer taking the route clockwise simply because you get more of an impact riding down through Clydach Gorge.



















Pontypool Route    [ back to top ]
Location: Running anti-clockwise from Pontypool up the Monmouth & Brecon Canal to Govilon, climbing up through Clydach Gorge to Garn Lakes and then dropping back past Blaenavon and returning to Pontypool
Distance: 32.6 miles (round-trip)
Travel Time: 5 - 6 hours
Ride Level: Advanced+

Select "View Full Route" to see an enlarged version of this route.


ROUTE COLOUR KEY:  Traffic-free  Shared Use  Quiet Road  Steep Hill

Afon Lwyd Trail (Pontypool Route)
ROUTE METRICS:
Location: Running clockwise from Cwmbran, to Blaenavon and Clydach Gorge returning along the Monmouth & Brecon Canal
Distance: 38.3 mi. (round-trip)
Skill Level: Advanced+
Approx. Time: 5 - 6 hrs.
Elevation Gain: +1886 ft. / -1889 ft.
Max. Grade: 9.6%
Avg. Grade: 0.1%

The Pontypool Route is also a circular loop, however it is six miles shorter (and approx. 1 hour) by beginning and ending at the Pontypool Train Station. The route outlined runs anti-clockwise by heading first up the Monmouth & Brecon Canal (NCN Route 49) to Govilon. At Govilon the route leaves the canal onto NCN Route 46 and heads up through Clydach Gorge to Garn Lakes. At Garn Lakes the route enters NCN Route 492 and heads south down past Blaenavon to the final destination at Pontypool.

Cycling his route anti-clockwise has some advantages and disadvantages; 1.) You start with a relaxed lazy 13 mile ride along the M&B Canal. (thumbs up!) 2.) You then have a very steady climb for 8 miles up through Clydach Gorge to Garn Lakes including two short, but significant hills. Plus your back is toward the valley as you climb. (thumbs down...) 3.) However, the last part of your ride is a fast 11 miles back down the valley to Pontypool. (thumbs up!!)


Additional Attractions
One of the hardest parts of this cycle route is keeping it contained to a single day. You'll pass much that is worthy further exploration and this can easily eat up time. In particular, you'll be passing the Blaenavon World Heritage Site including Big Pit National Museum. I've included a brief sidebar below.


 Sidebar of Note: 
Visit Blaenavon
Located at the gateway to the South Wales Valleys, partly within the Brecon Beacons National Park, the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape is a testament to the human endeavour of miners and ironworkers of the past.

Set in 33 square kilometres, the attractions, events, activities and landscape make a perfect destination for a day out. The main attractions such as Big Pit National Coal Museum, Blaenavon Ironworks, the World Heritage Centre and Blaenavon Heritage Railway are all just a few minutes’ drive or walk from each other. Indeed, there are so many brilliant attractions that you need to spend more than a day here to enjoy everything – so plan a weekend if you can!

In 2000, UNESCO inscribed the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape as a World Heritage Site, for the part the area played as the world’s major producer of iron and coal in the 19th Century. Today you can see remains of all of the necessary elements needed for the iron and coal industry, including a coal mine, furnaces, quarries, railway systems, ironworkers’ cottages, churches, chapels, a school and a workmen’s hall. All set in a landscape that is favoured by walkers, cyclists and mountain bikers. Enjoy your visit – whenever you come! 

And, once you've fully explored Blaenavon World Heritage Site why not discover more about Wales, the first industrial nation, by following the South Wales Route of Industrial Heritage, part of a Europe wide route.

Content provided by Blaenavon World Heritage Centre


In conclusion, whether you choose to start in Cwmbran or Pontypool; whether you go clockwise or anti-clockwise, I guarantee that you'll love this fabulous route. So what are you waiting for? Get on yer bike and go ride!

Ads Inside Post