Getting to the start and back home was relatively easy. We opted to use Trainline.com to book our tickets as they show you which trains have bike spaces available and books the space for you. This avoided having to call each train company to see if there was a space. A real time saver!
We took the train Thursday afternoon from Macclesfield, arriving late afternoon the same day into Machynlleth. The journey took around 3 hours with a change at Wolverhampton and cost £25pp. For our return journey we opted for Llandudno Junction which is a 2 min cycle from the end of the route. There was one change and the journey took around 1h30 with a cost of £20pp.
Bikes on trains – Booking is essential for a stress-free journey. We found that MTB tyres are slightly too big for some of the racks on the trains but this was never a real issue as we just stacked them. One thing to note is that we opted not to travel at peak times.
We opted for “credit card” bikepacking as we had not tested our camping setup on our current MTBs. This meant packing a change of clothes for the evening, basic cosmetics, tool kit with adequate spares and for my husband his e-bike charger.
My bike – I went with my trusted S-Works Epic Evo. It is lightweight (sub 10kg) and well geared, 10-52 rear cassette and 32t front chainring. I had a small pack on the front for food and carried a USWE backpack with my clothes and cosmetics in. I had two 750ml water bottles which was stored in the bottle cages. Overall I was well geared and there was only one part of the route where I had to push for around 100 meters, apart from that everything was ridable (for me).
My husbands bike – he went with a Specialized Turbo Levo SL (e-MTB). It is a lighter e-bike and with its extender can do a maximum of 70-80km with 1800 metres of climbing which we thought was ideal for this trip. He had a Tailfin Aero pack on with clothes and bike charger. He also had a small front pack and carried water and tools in a small USWE backpack.
The Wynnstay – Machynlleth – https://goo.gl/maps/1D9fdFTry7xjBvYQ6
The hotel had a secure outbuilding for bikes and were setup for cyclists. There was no need to charge the eBike so can’t comment if there was anywhere to charge.
If you have time, I would highly recommend dropping into Gwen Restaurant and Wine Bar for a drink in the evening, the sister restaurant of the 2 Michelin Stared Ynyshir up the road.
Tynygroes Hotel – Ganllwyd – https://goo.gl/maps/NHS4gh3xt5z7CA4Q9
We turned off the route at 63.6km and rode 2 minutes to the hotel. This hotel offered small, modern and clean rooms that were perfect for a trip of this kind. First thing I always do when I get to the room when bikepacking is test the radiators, if they come on then I can clean some of my clothes and know they will dry for the morning.
Again, there was a secure bike room, and we were changed £1 to charge the e-bike (bargin). We didn’t research this before setting off, it just happens that hotels in this area are used to cyclists.
We opted to cycle to Mawddach Pizza down the road (10km) for evening meal and it was well worth the extra peddling. The view was incredible and the pizza was even better!
Breakfast was a simple affair but set us up for the rest of the day.
Pont Y Pair Inn – Betws-y-Coed – https://goo.gl/maps/HeJn5miTbAEcnZAe8
At 140km you come into Betws-y-Coed which was quite a shock to the system after two days without seeing many people. It was the end of the summer holidays so accommodation was limited, that said the hotel was accommodating and there was a great chippy across the road (65km to 140km has a lack of food options, two cafes closed so had to go off route to a small shop).
There was no dedicated bike room but were allowed to lock the bikes in the breakfast room and also charge the e-bike. Not the most secure but having locked them to a chair I was quite sure it would be a real struggle to get them out of the room.
The room was well equipped, if not a little noisy, as the main road through Betws-y-Coed seems not to have a speed limit.
Breakfast was again a simple affair but set us up for the day with only 54km to do before our 2.30pm train.
Shops, Cafes and Re-supply Options
My number one rule when bikepacking is to resupply whenever possible. Even if it is 20km into the route. This rule would really save our bacon on this route as can be seen below.
0 KM – lots of option to stockup in Machynlleth before setting off
21km – turn left and a small descent into the village where you will find a café. Great cake and coffee. Also let us do a quick charge of the e-bike. https://goo.gl/maps/wE1pBWB12EZo7eZ57
52km – on route, George III was a nice pub serving cold drinks and simple lunches. https://goo.gl/maps/oHQimhXpDA4JUe4n8
88km – CLOSED – Canolfan Prysor Centre – although showing as open on Google this café was not open
95km – turn left off route and climb to Ffestiniog. There is a small village shop that was a life saver.
127km – Restaurant closed in Plas Penaeldroch Manor
140km – plenty of choice in Betws-y-Coed
178km – Caffi Alma – Alma’s café
For more information on the route itself, see this blog post here