Riding the Elan Valley Trail

The Elan Valley Trail, in the remote Cambrian Mountains, had been on our wish list for a while. There are few family cycle paths as spectacular.

A child rides their bike up a trail through a tree-lined section of the Elan Valley Trail on a sunny day.

The trail takes in a series of dams built over a century ago to supply water to Birmingham, climbing steadily to the final dam, Craig Goch, which sits 317m above sea level.

G had just turned five and this was a chance for him to get a taste of the ‘Welsh Desert’, with its tough and remote riding, on his own terms. He pedalled keenly along the gently inclining gravel path that contours along the reservoir shorelines.

We were riding on a burning July day so were only too glad to stop often to admire the view; the summer sun made for a long hot climb, despite the forested sections that provided welcome shade. After a lunch stop among the trees, we made the final push to the top.

Eventually – hot and tired but happy after our 13km climb – we reached Craig Goch. It had been a long climb – particularly for little legs – but the sense of achievement was worth it. We stood and saw how the final expanse of water gives way to the mountains beyond. We would save those for another day, when G is older.

For now, we were happy to know the rest of our ride would be easy; our return trip to the visitors’ centre was downhill all the way. We turned around and freewheeled our way back to the cafe for a well-deserved ice cream.