When the words “classic” and “Welsh” feature in a mountain bike route description you know you are guaranteed two things – stunning views and big climbs. The Pont Scethin loop from Tal-y-Bont is no exception – though this one threw in some of the best natural descents and single track I have ridden in the UK.
To round off our weekend in North Wales the classic Pont Scethin ride was a no brainer for all of us who could stay for the Sunday. The weather looked like it was going to stay with us for one more day and the ride delivered everything we could have hoped for.
Starting somewhere near the beach at Tal-y-Bont we pedalled the first few hundred metres (vertical) on tarmac – taking us a few kilometres into our ride and getting us nicely warmed up for the off road section. A old coach track or drovers trail led us to the small stone bridge to cross Afon Ysgethin – the pont (or bridge) in the name of the ride – and then we had a beast of a climb to take us to the 572m cairn location for a breather before our first descent.
The Braich is approximately 4km long and dropped us approx 300m through varying tracks and single track down a very windy hillside. This left everyone grinning and apart from a few technical rocky sections and some ruts it can be ridden by riders of all abilities.
This meant that we had to climb back over the mountain to head back to Tal-y-Bont. Craig-y-Grut is the “3866th highest peak in the British Isles and the 257th tallest in Wales”, but even this random fact didn’t phase us – especially as we were heading for the Bwlch y Rhiwgr (Pass of the Drovers) which would only only require us to climb approx 250m though even this was tough going!
We had a big breather here, knowing we weren’t going to stop until we reached the sea – dropping from 440m to sea level over the next 10km was to become one of my most memorable rides and definitely my high light for the weekend.
The video should speak for itself – the descent went on and on, through woods, moorland, farm tracks, single track, rocks, fields and eventually tarmac, boardwalk, pebbles and sand.
This loop should be on every UK mountain bikers checklist as it delivers everything you could hope for – and if the Welsh sun is shining down on you too its just about the perfect day out.
I’d like to extend a special thanks to Tom Hutton of MTB Guiding for his additional advice and guidance on the route that I first discovered in his book Wales Mountain Biking.