OVO Women's Tour
Experience road of Carmarthenshire as ridden by the professionals
Total Distance: 102km/63 miles
Total Elevation: 1700m/5500ft
Difficulty Rating: 7/10
Estimated Time: 4 to 7 hours
Route map for OVO Energy Women's Tour - Carmarthenshire Circular by Discover Carmarthenshire on plotaroute.com
Starting from the centre of Llandeilo, take the A483 to Ffairfach. Turn left at the mini-roundabout and take the minor road towards Bethlehem. Follow this round through Bethlehem for 10km to the t-junction. Turn right here and follow the A4069 and follow over the Black Mountain.
At Brynaman, take the second exit at the mini-roundabout and continue to follow until the t-junction at Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen. Turn right here and follow down the Amman valley. At the 41km point, entering Ammanford head across the first roundabout and right at the second near Tesco. At the larger roundabout go straight over following signs for Coleg Sir Gaer.
With Ammanford park on your right hand side down straight at a small roundabout then 300 metres later left, signposted Coleg Sir Gaer. Continue on this road, passing the Coleg/College on your left and continue to the traffic lights at Capel Hendre (46km). Turn right, follow for 600 metres then turn left, signposted Gorslas.
Follow the road to a 5-way crossroads at Gorslas, taking the road ahead and to your left towards Cefneithin. Follow this road for 6km, to a t-junction in the village of Porthyrhyd. Turn right here, towards the Nantgardig. Continue following signs for Nantgaredig, heading over 2 roundabouts until reaching a t-junction. Turn right here and almost immediately left, towards Nantgaredig.
Pass through the village to a staggered crossroads then go straight over taking care when crossing the A40. Follow the B4310 for 23km, through Brechfa and Abergorlech to Llansawel. At the t-junction, turn right and follow through the village. After 2km at the next t-junction turn right onto the B4302, towards Talley. Follow through the village of Talley and back towards Llandeilo. As you enter Rhosmaen, turn right at the t-junction and then first exit at the roundabout to arrive back in Llandeilo.
For 2019 the organisers of the OVO Women's Tour made a conscious decision to make the route more challenging, including more climbing than has ever previously been featured within the event. As the event visited Wales it was Carmarthenshire that hosted the final leg of the hugely successful event. There was no cruise to the finish line this year with a route that took in some of the very best and most stunning roads that the county has to offer.
While the event was hosted on a route that started in Carmarthen and finished in Pembrey Country Park, our route takes riders on a circular lap, taking in many of the same roads but starts in the town of Llandeilo. Historically the town dates back thousands of years, something clear to see with Dinefwr Castle still a prominent feature overlooking the town. In more recent years it has become a town more famous for its shopping and food establishments.
The route starts from the centre of the town, crossing the iconic and famous bridge over the river Towy and into Ffairfach where we turn to head up the Towy Valley. As the road gently climbs up the valley there are a few fantastic viewpoints where you see the vista of the river and valley, none better than from just above the village of Bethlehem. The village has long been an attraction, often simply due to its name and many still flock to the village at Christmas to have cards stamped with the Bethlehem postage mark. For this route it marks the first challenging climb, although only short it is steep and enough to challenge all riders and was as categorised climb for the OVO Women's Tour route.
After the climb and the fast, flowing descent to the edge of Llangadog the route turns right and heads towards the Black Mountain. At first and for several kilometres the gradient is very gradual, following alongside the Sawdde river, at times quite literally directly beneath you. The real climbing of the mountain begins at a bridge known as Pont Aber, where the road turns sharply right and from here the climb begins in earnest. In total, just over 7km and averaging a steady 5% it is one of the best road cycling climbs in Wales or perhaps even the UK. A climb of two halves, it begins on hedge-lined roads where the steepest gradient is, just over 10% within the first kilometre. After 4km the road crosses a cattle grid and into open land. The road twists to the top with far reaching views all around. One particular section known locally as “Tro Gwcw” where the road hairpins round to the left has been a feature of many motoring images and TV. As the top approaches there is a viewpoint and car park on the left, often full given the popularity of the road with motoring enthusiasts and tourists.
The downhill towards Brynamman has more fantastic views with the sea and the Gower coast being visible on a good day. The road is straighter than the climb up but still enjoyable to ride. As the road crosses a cattle grid and returns back to civilisation the section down the Amman valley begins. With history dating back hundreds of years, it became the industrial hub of West Wales with mining being a huge draw to the area. In more recent years the valley has seen huge regeneration. As for riding, the gentle downhill slope through the valley makes for a swift section from Brynamman all the way to Ammanford itself. With several food and drink places to stop at, including the well known Coaltown cafe, which the route passes directly in front and just under halfway through the route, it makes for a useful place to stop and replenish energy levels.
As the route heads out of Ammanford it stays within urban areas, to Capel Hendre and Gorslas before reentering more rural areas and passes the entrance to the National Botanical Gardens, which is now a mature and thriving garden and activity destination for all ages. We cross straight over the A40, and back into the wilder areas of Carmarthenshire towards the Cothi Valley.
Within the OVO Womens Tour race this climb from Nantgaredig was the first major climb of the days racing and one where riders pushing hard to escape the peleton and establish a break. A long, mostly gradual drag to Hermon before a fast sweeping descent to the village of Brechfa. In the last 20 years the area around the Cothi Valley and Brechfa Forest has become well known for its incredible waymarked MTB trails. The valley is quiet and scenic with several places to stop and replenish if need be, in particular within the villages of Brechfa and Abergorlech where the road begins to climb out of the valley.
The final section, from Llansawel back to the finish in Llandeilo remains a rolling test, but the biggest hills are at least out of the way. The area has history that is clear to see with one of the oldest in the area being Talley Abbey, believed to have been built in the early 12th Century its location is just off the main route, but an easy detour. Surrounded by hills and a lake it is a peaceful setting. From Talley back to Llandeilo the road remains rolling, barely seeing a metre of flat but the effort is worthwhile with the final descent to Ffairfach being enough to make the climbing metres worthwhile. With plenty of cafes and excellent shops, it is a town worth exploring further.
The Black Mountain – One of the highest roads in Wales as well as having stunning views from bottom to top
Cothi Valley – After a challenging climb, the road from Brechfa through to Llansawel following the Cothi is a beautiful part of the route.
Towy Valley – From the start, through Bethlehem the road offers a few fantastic sights of the wide valley floor
Ffairfach – The Hangout Cafe
Ammanford – Coaltown Cafe & Roastery
Brechfa – Forest Arms
Abergorlech – Black Lion
County Cycles – Bike Shop, Cross Hands
Public toilets in Abergolech