Day three started well with a fantastic fried breakfast from the bed and breakfast. The sky was clear, there was a slight breeze, and I was feeling great. I was raring to go. This may have been the cause of a problem later on…
Anyway, starting from Machynlleth the LLC goes straight up hill for 8 miles up a mountain road. The gradient initially wasn’t bad and I pootled up it for the first 4 miles or so. I met a couple over from Australia on a recumbent trike tandem. Fantastic looking machine. After 4 miles there was a short section of 12+ % gradient. I hopped off and walked for 50 metres then hopped back on and started off again and reached for a drink. My water bottle felt distinctly too light. I’d completely forgotten to fill them up when setting off earlier! Luckily I had a bottle of OJ with me and dealing with anything too steep by just walking (probably about 5 times in total) it meant that this climb, whilst long and high, wasn’t that bad. The views whilst climbing as well, definitely worth doing just for these. Going down the other side it had clouded over and at least the top bit isn’t as pretty as the Machynlleth side. I think you’d get a nicer ride going south to north here.
I flew down the wider road on the Dylife side, and this is where obsessively researching everything beforehand paid off, went straight on to Staylittle as I knew there was a shop there. The very helpful gentleman in the shop let me fill my water bottles from a tap even though he sold bottled water as well, so I took to opportunity to buy something sugary to munch on and headed back to the marked route.
From Staylittle the route goes through the Hafren forest and past the source of the river Severn. The forest itself is mostly firs and is managed, so when I cycled through there were large clear sections that had been logged. It was very pretty though, and the road was completely empty. It was also pretty flat which after the last few hours of climbing was a bit of a bonus. About halfway through the forest there’s a carpark, picnic area, and some loos (which don’t charge – bonus) so I stopped for my lunch. You can head on down to the river to and do a bit of a walk to see some impressive falls, or even the source itself. I didn’t, I was enjoying the ride too much to be honest.
From the carpark you take the road south to Llanidloes, and the road just drops the whole way. Its brilliant. I checked my Garmin on this and I didn’t really pedal for 4.5 miles. The valley gives peeks through the woods of views over the mountains around you, and the whole area is beautiful. This whole section has to be one of the highlights of the whole route for me.
From Llanidloes you have to cross from one river valley to another (Severn to Wye). This means more climbing. Its not really nice climbing either, as it winds through farms and got bloody steep in a few sections. I had my own cloud of flies by the top of this. Lovely. You soon get to Llangurig though and onto another section of beautiful, empty, and quiet valley riding. I know a lot of people talk about the climbs on the LLC but to me, whilst these are amazing, you can’t ignore the impact the river valleys have on this route. This one is a fantastic section as well. From Llangurig you go along very quiet lanes, which turn into well maintained (if strewn with sheep crap) farm tracks all the way to Rhayader. Another idyllic section of the ride. This continues after Rhayader on the west bank of the Wye to Llanwrthwl. Then you get a little sign that says something along the lines of “the route ahead is not suitable for road bikes, consider riding on the unmarked A road”. I Ignored this. I did not want to ride on an A road. I wanted to continue along my lovely quite back roads. They did not lie.
Ok, I exaggerate, but from the north the off road path starts going up a hill and a large number of fist size and bigger rocks have collected on it. The middle section is no better or worse than many Sustrans gravel paths, but you do get some amazing views. The final section is actually a farmers track. Think 2 ruts with massive puddle holes, stones, and grass down the centre. Finally you then have to climb a big hill just to come back down it to get into Newbridge on Wye. All in all, if I were to do this again I’d just go down the A road from Llanwrthwl. It was fun though.
My stop was the Pigs Folly in Newbridge on Wye. I turned up, and the place is completely closed and I have no mobile signal to get hold of the owner. It was nice enough though to I sit on the bench outside and read my book until they turned up to open up for the evening.