The Brailsford Way 50

Towards Rhyd Ddu © Cicerone
Nant Gwynant Pass © Cicerone
Nant Gwynant Viewpoint © Cicerone

The Brailsford Way 50 is a loop around Snowdonia via the Nant Gwynant valley, named after Sir David Brailsford. The Brailsford Way 50 is in-fact just short of 50 miles and includes over 1300 metres of ascent. For a longer circuit that includes a visit to Betws-y-Coed see the Brailsford Way 75.

The route description by Richard Barrett starts from the junction of the A498 and A4086 east of Pen-y-Pass at the famous Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel, where Edmund Hilary and his team stayed while they did some of their training for the first successful ascent of Everest in 1953. However, as the route is circular you can of-course start at any point.

Follow the A4098 towards Llanberis and climb up and over Pen-y-Pass. The gradient is so gentle you barely notice the effort before you are over the top and enjoying a long descent down the Llanberis Pass, through Nant Peris (4/46 miles) to Llanberis. Unless you are looking for a very early cake stop, stick to the main road and ride past Llyn Padarn to Llanrug (10/40 miles). Turn left at Y Glyntwrog Inn and climb up through Ceunant (12/38 miles) and Groeslon (13/37 miles).

Turn right along the A4085 heading towards Caernarfon and then after 1.5 miles of fast descent, turn left at the roundabout, following the A487 towards Porthmadog. After 2 miles, ride through the outskirts of Bontnewdd (17/33 miles) and turn right at the roundabout following the A487 towards Caernarfon. Turn left at the next roundabout and ride along St Helen's Road into the centre of Caernarfon (19/31 miles). Ride a loop around Caernarfon Castle, perhaps stopping for a timely break, and then follow your way back along St Helen's Road to the A487. This may seem an unnecessary diversion but clearly those who planned the route intended it as there are waymarks on all the road signs.

Turn right, following the A587 towards Porthmadog, and then turn quickly right towards Llanfaglan and immediately right again into Coed Helen. Follow this quiet lane along the south bank of Afon Seiont and around to Aber Foreshore Road, giving you a fine view of the Castle across Afon Seiont. On a clear day you get fine views across the Menai Straight to Newborough Warren at the south-west corner of Anglesey. But if the prevailing south-westerly wind is blowing you will be pedalling into a headwind. And if it's windy and raining like it was when I last rode it, it will be thoroughly unpleasant and very cold no matter what time of year it is.

After 5 miles, cross the A499, follow the road alongside the boundary wall of Glynllifon Country Park and turn right at the next roundabout, heading along the A487 towards Porthmadog. There is a cafe in the Inigo Jones slateworks at the next roundabout, where the route turns left into Penygroes (30/20 miles). Turn right along County Road in the centre of the village and then, after a mile, turn right along the B4418 heading towards Beddgellert. Ride through the old slate mining village of Nantlle (33/17 miles) and along the Nantlle Valley to Rhyd Ddu (37/13 miles), where the route turns sharply right along the A4085.

Enjoy a fast descent to Beddgelert (40/10 miles) where there are plenty of choices for a final cake stop. Turn left by the bridge over the Afon Glaslyn and follow the A498, first past Llyn Dinas and then Llyn Gwynant. As the road narrows, climb up steadily through the trees back to the start at the Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel. Most likely there will be an ice cream vendor at the viewpoint near the top where you can reward yourself with a well-earned treat.

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