Wales has 1,000 miles of cycle paths on the National Cycle Network, the highlight being the 220-mile Celtic trail from Fishguard, Pembrokeshire to Chepstow Castle. Starting in the west to make the most of the prevailing winds, it takes five days to complete, cycling through coastline, valleys and country parks.
The undulating lanes include one or two climbs on the western section through Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire. There is an easier section from Kidwelly to Neath and the final section, from Trelewis to Chepstow, is largely downhill or flat on towpaths, quiet lanes and railway paths.
Of course, there is no need to tackle the whole route in one trip. Between Neath and Pontypridd there is an optional, off-road high level route that climbs through forests tracks to 600 metres (2,000 feet). This challenging section has big ascents and spectacular views of reservoirs and the Black Mountains, but is only suitable for those comfortable with off-road cycling.
The longest of the three circular routes on the Celtic trail is also the most spectacular, taking in the Pembrokeshire coast and Preseli Hills as it covers 146 miles. It starts in Carmarthen and passes through Fishguard, St David’s and then back via Haverfordwest and Tenby. Dylan Thomas’s Boathouse in Laugharne is on the way.
A much shorter circular – just 42 miles – is ideal for exploring coastline and castles. Heading out of Carmarthen, the National Botanic Garden of Wales is just off the Celtic trail. There is a fabulous descent from Capel Seion into Llanelli, and the return route winds through Pembrey Forest to Kidwelly before tracking the River Towy.
For families, the route from Pembrey wanders along the Millennium Coastal Path and offers one of the best traffic-free sections of the Celtic trail. It is an ideal day ride and has plenty of beaches for picnic stops.
Cycle Tour Of Wales
Other cycle routes in Wales include the Lon Las Cymru, 250 miles from Holyhead in the north to Cardiff or Chepstow in the south. It takes in three distinct mountain ranges and is the ultimate cycle tour of Wales. Put aside a week to complete the route, or break it into bite-sized chunks and cycle through Snowdonia National Park, the Brecon Beacons or the Cambrian mountains.
The 113-mile Lôn Cambria crosses the heart of mid Wales between Aberystwyth and Shrewsbury, offering panoramic views of the Welsh countryside as it winds along mountain roads, country lanes, trails and river valleys. Shrewsbury Castle, Powis Castle, Aberystwyth Cliff Railway and Elan Valley Reservoirs are all lined along the route. From the bustle of the Victorian seaside resort of Aberystwyth to the tranquillity of the Cambrian mountains and the picturesque historic border town of Shrewsbury, the trail has something for everyone.
Lôn Teifi runs 98 miles between Aberystwyth and Fishguard, passing through Tregaron, Lampeter, Newcastle Emlyn and Cardigan before reaching Fishguard. There are a few steep climbs where the route deviates from the gentle gradients of the River Teifi valley, but highlights such as Cenarth Falls, Cors Caron National Nature Reserve, St Dogmaels Abbey and Cilgerran Castle make it worthwhile.