Last Sunday was so sunny that we decided to reach the highest road (tarmac) in Pembrokeshire and to reach the highest point in Pembs too! It’s a very pleasant ride to the Preseli Hills via Lampeter Velfrey, Llandissilio and Maenchlochog from Saundersfoot area. It’s not a huge bike ride – somewhere between 40 and 50 miles long, but hilly since Google Maps says that it includes 3500′ of climbing, mostly on the way to the highest point, of course.
At one point we crossed the ford that gets the cyclist across the Eastern Cleddau river – the Cleddau being the big river that defines much of Pembrokeshire’s geography – it divides in two at approximately the point we reached in the last post (Landshipping Quay), so there’s the eastern and western branches of the river. Since the ford was about two feet deep and slippy we opted for the bridge. I’ll wait for a time when there’s a drought. It’s a beautiful spot, just at the back of Llandissilio. The highest point of the Pembs road system is 1325′ at Bwlch Gwynt, which means (even to someone with very limited knowledge of Welsh) the windy gap. It was windy too and surprisingly cool. We parked the bikes and then did the mile or two to the top of the Preselis – Foel Cwmcerwyn, which is Pembs version of Everest, at the staggering height of 1759′. The view is great, you can see distant bits of coast, and pretty much the entirety of Pembrokeshire. The route to the highest point had been so quiet and gorgeous that we took the same route back. Now that’s pretty rare since I’m a devotee of cycling in (ever decreasing) circles. But it is indeed an excellent route – and while the Pembrokeshire coast was heaving with tourists, driving around, paddle boarding, sand castling, and even swimming in the sea (did that yesterday), etc, we enjoyed very quiet roads in the middle of the county.
It’s not easy, at the moment, to plan a ‘proper’ bike tour – hostels are mostly still effectively shut (exclusive hire only), though camping is more viable perhaps. We’d been thinking about circumnavigating London by bike (at a decent distance though – perhaps about 50 miles from the centre, so South Downs and Chilterns). Given the difficulties of doing this at the moment, I’m wondering about whether I should do a trans Pembs? It would be from somewhere near Carmarthen to St David’s Head. Or perhaps do a north to south? Somewhere near St Dogmaels to somewhere near St Govan’s Head. Not entirely on road perhaps. These could be done in a day, though perhaps a wandering, roundabout, randonneur sort of route would be fun. In an age of getting to places fast, find a way of getting somewhere remarkably slowly…
The photos are, of course, the view from the top of the Preseli Hills – looking West, the ford across the eastern Cleddau, the very bit of tarmac that is the highest col in Pembs, and a view from near Lampeter Velfrey of the Preselis.
The Preselis were a pleasant echo of cycling over Ilkley Moor, a favourite ride from Bradford. Moorland, where land becomes trackless (apparently) wilderness, is a precious thing.