3 days of Bikepacking in the Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons

For this year’s annual escape from reality, I parked in Bettws (Newport) and cycled up the National Cycle Network paths to the Black Mountains.

I want to say it was big, and epic, and gnarly, however in reality I struggled to get into this one. It felt like I was squeezing it in between client work, even though I had everything tied off and organised before I left.

Sometimes I like solitude, then sometimes I like company. I think I needed to have someone with me on this one to vent to about day to day stresses, and I certainly haven’t come back feeling refreshed and rejuvenated like I usually do.

Sorry… this is a bit glum isn’t it?

I cycled up the NCN 49 route via Pontypool where I then jumped on to the NCN 492 up to Brynmawr before wiggling through the lanes to the Mynydd Du Forest. The next morning I winched up and over Grwynd Fawr and down Talgarth before winding around on the NCN 8 into Brecon and onwards to Talybont Forest. The last day saw be zip down the Taff Trail all the way back into Newport. Here’s the loose plan on Komoot:

I think in hindsight I should have made the route shorter and more off road. Perhaps the slow monotony of riding a single speed along cycle paths wore me down. There looks to be a lifetime of trails to explore around the Coety Mountain as well as linking up fun trails in Sirhowy Valley and Cwmcarn. Perhaps I need to treat this ride as laying the foundations for the next one – it’s always easier to ride somewhere slightly familiar than totally new.

In reality, I had brilliant weather, I was warm and dry, plus well fed. I made a concerted effort to reduce my waste impact by buying less packaged food on this trip and that was definitely a success, although I did run out of gas on the last evening..!