Mountain biking the Gower peninsula

 

dsc00393This day route shows the rider much of what the Gower has to offer, and it’s not just beaches either. This route is a much underrated and unknown MTB route, however it is – in my opinion – deserving enough to be termed a ‘classic’ – well if you go on a fine day!

The morning started with breakfast with a glorious early morning view at the National Trust car park at Southgate . I was keen to start the ride early as I wasn’t sure what my fitness would be like plus we had to pick the kids up from after school club by 6pm a two hour bongo journey away.

To get to the start of the route that we were – for the most part – following from MBR  we needed to do a short stint along road, across a golf course and then down a wooded descent to get to Parkmill – a nice warm up!

The start of the ride from Parkmill was the lowlight of the whole day – a busy road climb for about 20 minutes. However once that was completed the rest of the ride was superb. A mixture of old school style XC with a couple of long fun descents – and those views!

I have been coming to the Gower peninsula since childhood and barely a summer has gone past when I haven’t camped there for at least one weekend, however it has always been about the beaches and coastal walks. So, riding up and over the Cefn Bryn ridge came as a surprise. The views are world class spectacular with a panaromic view of the entire peninsula including a photographer’s view of the three cliffs bay.

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We then dropped down for a mixture of country roads and bridleways until the third climb of the day – up to the ridgeline above Rhossili Down for a sweeping view of one of my all time favourite beaches –Rhossili beach.

The descent from here is (in true MTB speak) sick! What I actually mean is that it is steep, grassy, rocky descent – a-hanging-on-to-the-seat-of-your-pants-with-the-mantra-of-‘holy shit’-repeatedly-escaping-my-lips descent, made all the more exhilarating by riding a hardtail! If I wasn’t so ready for lunch I would have pushed up and done it all over again.

We had a quick lunch stop at the  Hill End campsite (decent food, but overpriced in my opinion), which is conveniently just over half way round, before jumping back on the bikes for the return. The climb up Llanmadoc Hill was hard, and made harder by the large fried egg and mushroom bap sitting in my gut! It was starting to get really hot, however the return ride showed me sections of the Gower that I had never seen, plus the ride back down the Bryn Cefn ridge is fun fun fun and a great way to end the day’s ride.

….and of course, no trip to the Gower would be complete without a quick stop at the World’s best ice-cream shop – Joe’s Ice-cream in Swansea!

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I would definitely do this route again, however I would tweak it slightly by starting and finishing at the fabulous Kings Head in Llangennith for the all important post-ride dissection with a pint of cider and the unique Penclawdd pizza.

Distance – 23 miles

Climb and descent – 2300ft

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