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Circular Cycle Ride from Llansilin to Lake Vyrnwy

Contributed by
David Ackerley

 Although not a long ride, this is a very strenuous affair through what has been aptly described as “God’s own country”. It is almost true to say that the only flat ground is the car park at Llansilin and the road across the dam at Lake Vyrnwy, with some very long and steep hills separated by other little gems, all to test les grimpeurs.

The scenery and birdlife are magnificent, with an almost certain chance of seeing buzzards, so long as you can see through the sweat streaming off you!

There is the option of circling the lake, but it’s not compulsory! However, if the weather has been very wet shortly before you do this route, the waterfalls at the head of the lake are well worth going to see. Some of the roads have deteriorated so much that they are more like tracks, and those who have elastic bands masquerading as tyres will be very likely to suffer punctures - or worse!

Route: Llansilin - Moelfre - Efail Rhyd - Penygarnedd - Lake Vyrnwy - Llanfyllin - Pen-y-Bont - Llansilin

Maps: OS 50,000 Landranger Nos. 125 & 126

Distance: 37 miles

Grade: Severe - suitable for strong, fit riders

Ascent: 4,500 ft. (1,365 m.)

Start: Llansilin car park: OS Landranger Sheet 125 grid ref: 210 279.




00.0   Right out of car park. No signpost.

00.1   Left by letterbox signposted Moelfre.

00.8   Right signposted Moelfre.

02.2   Left signposted Efail Rhyd and then immediate Right alongside small, semi-hidden lake.

04.1   Left signposted Efail Rhyd.

04.7   Right at T-junction No signpost.

04.9   Left signposted Pentrefelin.

05.4   Right signposted Llanrhaeadr

06.9   Right at T-junction on to B4580 signposted Bala and then immediate Left by Wynnstay Arms Hotel sign.

09.0   Left into a narrow lane that is very easy to miss, and start a three mile climb. No signpost

09.3   Left at T-junction by a big wall on your right.

09.4   Straight On uphill by an old Chapel.

09.9   Keep Right uphill. The road surface becomes atrocious, being a mixture of large and very large potholes.

          Go through gate. The good news is that the road soon goes downhill.

13.9   Left at T-junction No signpost.

14.9   Right at T-junction Signposted Lake Vyrnwy.

15.8   You have arrived at the dam and have a choice here:


Left over the Dam and Left again to The Old Barn Café, if you have not brought your own food and drink,


Use the public picnic site close to the café if you have brought your own food,


Straight On to the Lake Vyrnwy Hotel on your right up a very steep drive soon after the Dam. The hotel is open for bar food.

At the time of writing (April 2009) The Old Barn Café is not open between mid November and mid March. These dates vary slightly according to the school holidays, but can be confirmed by contacting the café as follows:

Tel: 01691 870 377.         email: bay@oldbarncafe.com   

Website: www.oldbarncafe.com

Otherwise it is open 7days per week 1000hrs to 1700hrs in spring and 1800hrs in summer.

If you decide to circle the lake, continue past the hotel drive on the lakeside road, eventually returning to the Dam. This will add about 10, mostly flat, miles to the trip. When you reach the head of the lake you may wish to turn Right, cross a bridge and go Left up a track towards the twin waterfalls. After a while you will have to leave your bike and walk a short distance to the falls. This exertion is only worthwhile if the falls are in spate; if they are, they can be seen from a long way away.

15.8    Retrace the route from the café over the Dam or from the hotel, and continue downhill on the B4393 signposted Llanfyllin.

17.3    Follow B4393 round sharp Left bend, steeply uphill signposted Llanfyllin.

20.2   Left at T-junction signposted Llanfyllin.

          Left immediately after Llanfihangel garage on right, uphill into a narrow lane. No signpost.

Caution: After a long climb to the top of a ridge with superb views, the road descends steeply with a poor surface, severe bends and becomes very narrow in places. Take special care!

25.8   Right at T-junction. No signpost.

25.9   Right at T-junction. No signpost.

26.8   Left in Llanfyllin into Ffordd y Cain opposite Telephone for the last long climb.

29.6   Right by Red Telephone

32.3   Left at T-junction. No signpost.

32.5   Right at T-junction. Signposted Oswestry.

32.9   Left Signposted Llansilin, and follow signs to Llansilin.

          34.5  Right up short track IF you want to visit a well preserved Motte and Bailey with a magnificent Oak tree on it. Return to road and go Right.

34.8   Right at crossroads Signposted Llansilin.

36.1   Right into car park to finish the ride.

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