A trip over a moorland MOD area with incredible far reaching views
Total Distance: 43km/27 miles
Total Elevation: 700m/2296ft
Difficulty Rating: 5/10
Estimated Time: 2.5 to 3.5hrs
From Llandovery Car Park exit onto the A40 heading East and follow out of the town and for just under 14km, turn left while riding on a long straight section of road, signposted Tirabad. Follow up hill and over the MOD area, staying on the main road at all times to the village of Tirabad. At the t-junction turn left and follow for 8km. After a fast downhill to a t-junction, turn left signposted Llandovery and follow for 6km back to the town. As you enter Llandovery turn left soon after passing the school. After 400 metres, arrive at a t-junction and turn right. Immediately before the Castle Hotel turn left and back into the car park.
Not far from Llandovery and close to the Carmarthenshire border is the area known as Epynt. It is an area of mountain upland that was acquired for MOD use in 1939 and remains so to date, being one of the largest training areas in the UK. While most of the area is closed off to public, there are a few roads that are usually open to the public and this route highlights one spectacular road across the area.
From Llandovery heading South East towards Trecastle on the A483 the road is a gradual uphill rise for almost 10 kilometres, but while it is an A-road the surroundings and the nature of the road as it winds through small valleys make is an enjoyable ride and a good start.
The fun starts as the road turns left, off the A road at the village of Llywel. The road pitches uphill immediately with a steep gradient to start. What makes this road quite different is that it is a single track dual-carriageway, which must surely be one of the only ones within the UK. A road of this type is to allow military traffic to proceed up onto the mountain area ahead. The climb is a challenging one, being 2km at 7% but the first section is above 15% and can be really punishing.
From the top the red flag that flies is a welcome to the MOD area and warning signs will be seen throughout. This road however is almost always open to the public, but everything else is strictly off limits. What makes it so good is a mixture of the fantastic views, across to the Brecon Beacons and Cambrian mountains but also the immaculate road surface. It is all open land and being a reasonably high elevation wind can be a factor, so hope for a tailwind!
After passing an area known as Dixes Corner the road begins to drop and if you look in the right direction the German village will be clearly visible. Not something you would expect to see in the heart of Wales! It is not inhabited and this mock village was built during the cold war era and is a live MOD training area for close combat. There are a number of rifle zeroing ranging adjacent to the road, so don't be too worried if you hear gunfire as you ride.
The road twists and then drops to the village of Tirabad, right on the edge of the MOD training area. The enjoyable roads continue as it cuts through Crychan forest area and then drops down to the A483. The final few kilometres are a relatively easy section back to Llandovery
Llywel Climb – A savage climb up a single track dual carriageway
Mynydd Epynt – Beautiful section over open landscape with incredible views and for the eagle eyed, look out for the German village
Llandovery – Penygawse Tea Rooms
Llandovery – Craft Centre Cafe
Llandovery – West End Cafe
County Cycles – Bike shop, Cross Hands