Two of us cycled the Lon Cambria from Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth, leaving Shrewsbury on the 24th Sept 2020 at lunchtime and arrived at the sea by 11am on 27th Sept. Carrying loaded bikes with tents, the plan was to camp, but not cook and eat on the way. I left my car parked in a quiet street not far from the Shrewsbury station and we cycled out following the route on our GPS.
The first part through Shrewsbury is lovely and it is not long before you are away from the town and onto nice little quiet lanes. After a couple of hours, we came across the Royal Hill, Free house @ Edgerley and had a coffee and quick beer. Very nice little pub and well worth the stop.
From there we headed up and down some nice big hills to our first campsite @ Buttington, just outside Welspool. The campsite is part of the Green Dragon pub, which is beside the busy A458 and mainline railway, which crosses the A458 right by the campsite. For me earplugs are essential part of any cycle trip and they were very well appreciated that night. John, the landlord served great beer and lovely food. The campsite facilities are basic and clean and recommended.
In the morning, a short ride into Welshpool for a coffee and bacon roll, before the route joins the ‘monty’ (Montgomery Canal). According to Wikipedia – The Montgomery Canal is a partially restored canal in eastern Powys and northwest Shropshire. The canal runs 33 miles from the Llangollen Canal at Frankton Junction to Newtown via Llanymynech and Welshpool and crosses the England–Wales border and I can say is fantastic cycle path that all should ride! Lots of interesting derelict locks and building to see and take photos of, and very few people too.
At Newtown, we seeked out a café in the shopping centre for lunch and coffee. Lots of shops here for any purchases that may be needed.
The afternoon brought a fair share of undulations and use of 30 x 30 gear. Lovely to just plod along and have a good look at the scenery. This part of Poyws was made all the more scenic by the Autumn sun. Soon we were finally heading down hill into Llandileos and our second campsite, Dol-Llys farm, where I have stayed previously. Lovely site on the river. We pitch at the top of the hill near to the facilities. Once the tents are up, 15 minute walk down to Llandileos, which is very pretty with a good choice of places to eat. We went to the Angel pub and again was not disappointed. Lovely food and great beer. If planning to ride the Lon Cambria at a more relaxed pace, I would suggest spending more time here to look around the town. It is well worth it.
The Saturday morning sun was fabulous and warmed our cold bones. Days have been lovely and sunny, but nights have been cold. We have 5 miles of climbing over to Llangurig and a stop at the café for more coffee and bacon rolls.
From here the road is flatter as we head down the valley towards Rhayader and the centre of Wales. A coffee stop by the clock tower is right in the middle of the town and we sit outside and watch the busy traffic.
Taking the cycle path up the Elan valley, it climbs very gently and soon you are confronted by the large reservoirs and impressive Victorian dams. There are six dams in total and the Lon Cambria takes you passed three. First is Caban Coch, which is the lower dam just above the visitors centre (worth a stop) and then onto Garreg Ddu (A submerged dam) and then climb a bit higher to Pen y Garreg. I have been a frequent visitor to the Elan Valley and the water level this visit is much lower than I have ever seen before. You also find that this section can get very busy on the cycle path with lots of tourists. We also found the section of cycle path alongside Pen y Garreg was shut due to land slippage and switched to road for the final section of the Elan valley up to the Mountain road.
Once you turn left along the mountain road, there are less cars and tourists and again we are blessed we spectacular views illuminated by the Autumn sun.
Once beyond the old miners village at Cwmystwyth, you leave the road for a cycle track through the woods. We were heading a short way up of the Lon Cambria for a campsite (Penrhiw) at Ffair Rhos, opposite a pub (Teifi Inn). Again the food; beer and campsite were brilliant and well worth a visit.
Sunday, we were left with a short 20 mile ride into Aberystwyth. First we head back down hill to join the route and followed valley, turning to an off road climb, that had me off and walking for the first time this trip. Once at the top we joined what was the old Devils bridge railway that would lead us all the way to the sea. This section is a photographers dream and we stopped many times to take photos.
Train back to Shrewsbury worked out well, but be warned there only seems to be spaces for two cycles and guards do not like more than that per train.
It was such a shame to have to end this adventure as the two of us had really enjoyed the route and although this is Covid times, we really did see this part of Wales at its best. Food; drink and hospitality was fantastic and the scenery was a joy. I want to come back and do it all over again. Thanks to cycle.travel website. I will be using it again for my next adventure.