Liverpool to Gloucester
Via The Hills And Valleys Of Wales

Liverpool to Gloucester - We had been lulled into a false sense of security having had good weather in England. We hadn't banked on rainy Wales. By 'eck, we did get wet.



Our ride descriptions give an account of the ride that we completed. As part of the description we also provide links to google maps and elevation profiles based on mapping data available through the internet. The ride profiles are smoothed to give what in our opinion is a more beneficial view of the profile. We use paper maps, GPS and on line data to plan and conduct our rides. We are happy for you to use our descriptions, but be aware that we do not guarantee the accuracy of the information provided as situations surrounding any ride change over time.

Liverpool to Gloucester - Day 1 - Liverpool to Flint

  • Distance           74km
  • Max Elevation    180m

Liverpool to Gloucester - Liverpool to Flint Ride Profile

Ride Description

Got an early start from Joe's who unfortunately wasn't there to see us off as he never arrived home from the party the night before, being to wrecked to go very far at all.

The route followed the C56 which took us through Sefton Park and on reasonable roads into Liverpool City Centre. On the way we were joined by Ellon and Martin who cycled with us for a short time. They also owned Thorn touring bikes and had just arrived back from 4 months in Canada, cycling up to the arctic circle. Having been home for only 4 days, they were itching to be off again and were jealous of our ride to Portugal. They had previously ridden though Portugal and told us how lovely it was. We couldn't wait. 

We caught the Ferry across the Mersey to Seacombe and on the other side set off on our Liverpool to Gloucester ride along the coastal path around the Wirral peninsular. Birkenhead was a lovely place and the Liverpool to Gloucester ride along the promenade was enjoyable. We stopped at New Brighton for a second breakfast and a lovely mug of milky coffee.

The Liver BuildingThe Liver Building

The Liverpool to Gloucester route continued all the way around the head of the peninsular as far as Hoylake where we had to negotiate a few roads before getting onto the Wirral Way Path and Cycle track which follows the old railway line to Neston where we stopped to by lunch.

Next the Liverpool to Gloucester went through Wirral Country Park and eventually dropped onto the canal which takes you almost into Chester before switching to the C5 to Connah's Quay. This sections is very well surfaced and we traveled at high speed all the way to just before Flint, where you rejoin the road. This part was awful. There was heavy traffic through Flint and we were weaving on and off the pavement to be able to make headway. Just after Flint, in the village of Bagillt the C5 heads off up the hill away from the highway.

At this point of our Liverpool to Gloucester ride we had cycled about 55 miles. The gradient was 15% in some places and just went up and up for ages. Not only that but it went down and then up again.

By the time we reached to the top we were knackered. Just as we came to the top junction, we espied the Glan Yr Afon Inn. It was already six o clock and we knew that we would have another 10 miles riding at least to find a camp site. We had no food or fuel for the stove. So we decided to see how much it would cost for a room for the night.

Although it was a lot more than our budget we decided to cast caution to the wind and checked in. We would have to keep under our budget for the next 5 or 6 days, but it was worth it.

The inn had a great atmosphere, was comfortable and the food was delicious.

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Liverpool to Gloucester - Day 2 - Flint to Conwy

  • Distance           70km
  • Max Elevation    260m

Liverpool to Gloucester - Flint to Conwy Ride Profile

Ride Description

We slept very well in a very comfortable bed. It was difficult to get up, but the full English was a real incentive. We loaded up the bikes and set off on our Liverpool to Gloucester ride. Yes, it was up a hill again.

The first ten km was up and down, with good views across the estuary to the Wirral where we had been the day before.

Eventually the Liverpool to Gloucester route dropped down the hill to Prestatyn with its huge, ugly static caravan park.

We crossed the road and cycled along the C5 cycle way through the golf course and sand dunes. Lovely easy riding in warm sunshine.

The Liverpool to Gloucester cycle route followed the shore line all the way from Ryhl to Colwyn Bay. It was just lovely cycling so close to the sea, except for the patches of fine, deep sand on the path which made the riding "interesting" in places.

As we arrived in Colwyn Bay, a gentleman of elder years caught up with us on his bike and started up a conversation, asking us which way we would be going. After some discussion and pouring over maps he advised us that our planned Liverpool to Gloucester route was not the best one. Instead of using the route along the A55 towards Bangor as it was very busy and dangerous he suggested taking the B5106 towards Betws-y-Coed

We decided to take his advice and continued on to Penrhyn Bay where our Liverpool to Gloucester route cuts inland across the peninsular to Tywin, just across the estuary from Conwy.

We cycled over the bridge and into Conwy to look for a grocer's shop and a garage to get fuel for the stove.

Some random guy at a bus stop told us the garage was about 1 mile out of town towards Bangor. 2 miles later we stopped and another gent told us the garage had closed a while back and that the only petrol was at Tesco, which meant riding back to Conwy, and back over the bridge. On the way we bought provisions for dinner in Conwy and eventually, fueled up, we rode back into Conway and then , saying goodbye to the C5, we took the B road out of Conway heading towards Betws-y-Coed.

At about 5-00pm we decided to stop for the night at the Conwy Touring Park, which was a little on the pricey side and very busy, but it was quite and well away from the road with plenty of trees and screening. The only problem being the steep hill off the road to access the site.

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Liverpool to Gloucester - Day 3 - Conwy to Ynys

  • Distance           68km
  • Max Elevation    270m

Liverpool to Gloucester - Conwy to Ynys Ride Profile

Ride Description

This must rank as being one of the best days so far. It started off still, dry, light breeze and broken sunshine. We woke up reasonably early and were on the Liverpool to Gloucester route by by 9-30 up the road to Betws-y-Coed which despite a few early hills was a pleasant ride. Traffic was reasonably light and we arrived at the turnoff to Llanwrst, but continued on the B road through the lovely wooded valley to Betws-y-Coed.

There we spied a cafe with bicycles parked outside, so we headed in for tea and teacakes and to ask advice of these local riders regarding the best route to take to Harlech. Taking account of the weight we carried, they suggested the A5 to Capel Curig and then the A 4086 and A498 towards Porthmadog. Their advice was good. The climb up the A5 out of Betws-y-Coed was gradual and for most of the way there was a pavement that we could ride on. 

Arriving at Capel Curig we bought extra provisions for lunch and set off up the Plas-y-Brenin, where the famous outdoor and mountaineering centre is located. The steady ride up this valley was stunning with views towards Snowdon.

SnowdonSnowdon

Reaching the top of the valley, at the turn off for the Pass of Llanberis, our Liverpool to Gloucester route descended the hill towards Beddgelert. We stopped on the way down and ate our lunch by a stream. The sun shone. The views were stunning. We had full stomachs and everything was great.

SnowdonSnowdon

The Liverpool to Gloucester route took us quickly downhill to Beddgelert and on towards Porthmadog, turning off to Penrhyndeudraeth (or Penrin do da as we affectionately knew it). We stopped to stock up and then continued over the toll bridge (free on a Sunday) and turned left towards Steve's old summer holiday destination, Talsarnau. 

We were heading for a camp site on on the side of the estuary at a little place called Ynys, opposite Portmeirion, where we had camped many years ago with our boys.

PortmeirionPortmeirion

There was no sign on the main road, but we turned in. We got to the estuary and there was a sign saying "Private Land - No Campers". We continued on and got to the farm at the end of the road to find that they were still operating and admitting campers. We knocked and Mrs Davies, who had run the farm for years answered the door. Amazing! 

We booked in for the night. A bit pricey at £9 for a field and a loo, but no showers, etc. However we had come specifically to find the site and couldn't refuse.

That night we sat on the estuary in the dark and watched the tide sweep in over the sand and fill the bay. High in the sky we viewed millions of stars. The sound of the Curlews, Waders, Geese calling across the marshes was just magic. Eventually the temperature drove us to our beds and we snuggled into our down sleeping bags.

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Liverpool to Gloucester - Day 4 - Ynys to Machynlleth

  • Distance            64km
  • Max Elevation     400m

Liverpool to Gloucester - Ynys to Machynlleth Ride Profile

Ride Description

We had been undecided whether or not to stay an extra day at Ynys, so we forced ourselves to stay in bed a little longer than normal. When we did surface, the sky was grey and there was a strong south westerly wind, which was not conducive to staying put. So we packed up once again and set off on our Liverpool to Gloucester route into the strong headwind, south towards Harlech. As the climb up to Harlech is a 25% we continued on up the main road. Still a 15% and thus we skirted past the town.

HarlechHarlech

But the climb was worth it for the view.....

Harlech BeachHarlech Beach

Our Liverpool to Gloucester route followed the road for some miles before turning off to follow the C8 cycle route along a couple of side tracks, which were quite hilly, but enjoyable and certainly preferable to the busy main road. The Liverpool to Gloucester route eventually joined the main carriageway again to take us to Barmouth where we cycled along the promenade, stopped for lunch and then crossed over the estuary on the toll bridge (£2 for two bikes!) at the side of the main railway line. 

The Liverpool to Gloucester route then follows the Mawddoch Trail along the old railway line, up the side of the estuary to Dolgellau. The ride was simply, stunningly beautiful and easy. 

In Dolgellau we stopped for coffee and cake and chatted with a lad who was hiking around North Wales. He was heading up Cadair Idris, which was in the same direction that we were going. 

The road out of Dolgellau is a 17% climb up a single track road, skirting around the foot of Cadair Idris. 

Cadair IdrisCadair Idris

As we passed into a narrow lane we startled a group of grazing sheep that had no way of escape other than to run along in front of us. One of them was slower than the rest and ended up behind Steve. In a flat panic it tried several times to overtake him and join the rest of the flock. Eventually it made a last attempt to rush past, but was snagged by a bramble branch, spinning it around and almost under Steve's wheels. After a couple of somersaults it bounded on to join the rest, leaving us in fits of laughter, wishing that we had our video camera running. 

Eventually the Liverpool to Gloucester route crosses over the main A487 and then starts a long climb, again at 17%, to eventually reach over 500m. As we struggled cycling and pushing into the ever increasing head wind we stopped halfway up to shelter behind a rock and stuff our faces with more carbohydrate.

We continued up. As we reached near to the top, two Tornado jets, one chasing the other, flew rushing up the valley, hugging the terrain. They banked to the right and were gone. Several minutes later two Hawk trainers did the same. The sight of these formidable aircraft flying so low and fast through the valleys was exhilarating and both of us were just bowled over by it. 

We eventually crested the pass and then followed our own fast, terrain hugging flight down the hill. Not quite the same buzz as a fighter pilot, but not bad all the same. 

The Liverpool to Gloucester ride down was through steep sided, wooded valleys arriving at the old slate mine near Corris. The slate heaps were stacked high and we rode between 15 meter high walls of slate. Even the roadside fences were made with slate palings and wire linking them together. 

Finally after the last few miles down the main road, we arrived at our camp site for the night in Llwyngwern. The site was pretty basic, but had good hot showers.

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Liverpool to Gloucester - Day 5 - Machynlleth to Llanidloes

  • Distance             38km
  • Max Elevation      510m

Liverpool to Gloucester - Machynlleth to Llanidloes Ride Profile

Ride Description

We had gone to bed the night before at the end of a cloudy, but warm day. 

We heard the rain start during the night and as we roused ourselves at about 7-00 the rain had been pouring for several hours. The urge to stay in bed was strong, but we had planned to arrive at Steve's cousin's place near to Rhayader on Wednesday and the thought of just staying in the tent all day was worse than getting on our bikes in the rain. So after breakfast cooked in the tent, we decamped as best we could to keep things as dry as possible. Of course the tent and footprint were still soaking wet, which added tremendously to the weight. 

Anyway,undeterred we set off on our Liverpool to Gloucester ride, mostly downhill to start with, down the valley into Machynlleth. We had only been riding for only 30 minutes, but through the rain we felt we deserved a coffee stop so we settled into a cafe for bacon and egg butties and frothy coffee! After we had girded our loins, and dried out a little we set off to visit the ATM, buy our lunch and set off out of town towards our next destination, Llanidloes. 

The road was marked as a "High narrow mountain road" and we already knew that there were two arrows at different points on the map, which meant at least a 16%. The first part of the Liverpool to Gloucester ride was a long and gradual uphill, which under normal circumstances would not have been a problem, but the extra weight of wet gear, the wind and rain all added to the effort needed. We battled on until we reached the start of the steeper climb up to the open moorland. 

Karen was really struggling, but refused to let Steve take on some of the weight she was carrying. Further up, she was psychologically struggling even more, so Steve insisted on taking the tent from her and taking the extra burden. We continued on up to the start of the second steeper section. At this point the wind and rain was gusting very strong and side on. Steve spotted a memorial circle which would give some well needed shelter.

Wynford Vaughn Thomas MemorialWynford Vaughn Thomas Memorial

We huddled behind the curved, slate wall that made up the memorial to Wynford Vaughn Thomas. Even though we were wearing our Gortex waterproofs, the sweat generated during our climb meant that we were drenched. So we stripped off and changed into dry clothing.

Wynford Vaughn Thomas MemorialWynford Vaughn Thomas Memorial

We brewed up, ate our lunch and, momentarily felt better. The sky had lightened somewhat and we headed off again up the hill. We finally reached the top of the pass and started our speedy descent down to the point where we joined the B road towards Llanidloes. 

After a mile the Liverpool to Gloucester route cuts off the B road and takes a beautiful back road through the forest and avoids the ups and downs of the main road. We were a lot warmer and drier and the ride was a lot easier as we went through the forest. However we were still expecting more hills. The Liverpool to Gloucester route did not disappoint, although they were not as bad as we had expected. Stopping for our second lunch break gave a slight remittance. 

Finally, feeling very tired, despite having only ridden some 26 miles or so, we arrived in Llanidloes. We asked at the Tourist Office about camping barns, but at £20 per person for a bed in a dormitory we decided to camp instead. By this time the sun had come out and we felt that we could brave another night under canvas. We had a quick cafe stop, splashed out on some steak for dinner, washed and dried the clothes at the launderette and headed for the camp site. 

The site had a campers kitchen area, which gave us the chance to cook and eat our dinner in a real room with proper chairs and tables. We devoured our steak, new potatoes and salad all washed down with a bottle of red wine. As we couldn't receive a phone signal at the site we wandered into town after dinner to call Brian and Janet and get directions to their farm near Rhayader. 

We took advantage of having a pint whilst we called Brian and scribbled down his complicated directions, with names that we could neither spell nor pronounce, on the back of a till receipt.

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Liverpool to Gloucester - Day 6 - Llanidloes to Bwlch y Sarnau

  • Distance           35km
  • Max Elevation    430m

Liverpool to Gloucester -  Llanidloes to Bwlch y Sarnau Ride Profile

Ride Description

The morning started off dry and warm as we continued our Liverpool to Gloucester ride. Completing our packing we realized that we still had half a bottle of wine left from the night before. It wasn't going to be carried so it was drunk.

We chatted to the campsite owner before we left and it turned out that she knew Brian, or at least her brother did, from way back.

We cycled into Llandiloes and called in at a multi-purpose outdoor shop to buy some new brake blocks as ours had worn down to their minimum. Whilst there, the guy in the shop gave us a couple of Welsh flags to add to our Scottish ones.

The first part of the Liverpool to Gloucester route out of Llanidloes was comprised a series of steep up and down hills. We stopped along the way for 40 minutes to install our new brake blocks. We also stopped and talked with another cyclist who was traveling in the opposite direction and assured us that after Llangurig the way was much easier. With fresh hope we continued on and true to his word the Liverpool to Gloucester route from Llangurig to Rhayader was just lovely, along a narrow back road of rolling gentle climbs, through beautiful beech and oak woodland.

Arriving in Ryahader we sought out the local Spar and bought our lunch. Then we headed down to the river side picnic spot. It tried hard to rain but failed. 

After lunch we cycled through Rhayader towards the village of Abbey Cwm Hir. As we cycled we noticed numerous Red Kites circling around. This was the Red Kite Center which played a major part in reintroducing the birds into Wales and there are now many breeding pairs.

We turned up the valley, a quite lengthy climb and at the top of the valley turned off onto a forest track. The forest track eventually turned back down the valley or we had to continue across open fields on a bridle track. We had no choice and pushed on up a rough track which eventually deteriorated into a rutted and muddy downhill track. We could only push our bikes. We were just grateful that it wasn't wet, otherwise we would have had to turn back. However, our map reading had been spot on and we arrived into the village of Bwlch y Sarnau and meshed straight into Brian's directions, which took us easily to their door.

That night and for the following two, we had a bath and slept in a comfortable bed. We got all our gear washed and dried and Brian took us to all the tourist attractions.

In Rhayader is the Gigrin Farm red kite feeding centre where each day a local farmer distributes quantities of beef, sharp at 3pm and about 200 red kites flock in from all over South Wales to feast. It was a spectacular sight and very popular with the bird watchers. 

We also drove up the Elan valley to see all the reservoirs built in the early 1900's to supply the drinking water to Birmingham. 

Janet fed us up with her excellent cooking and restocked our meager food supplies. We were very sorry to have to leave, but all good things must come to an end.

Red KitesRed Kites

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Liverpool to Gloucester - Day 7 - Bwlch y Sarnau to Hay on Wye

  • Distance            64km
  • Max Elevation     380m

Liverpool to Gloucester - Bwlch y Sarnau to Hay on Wye Ride Profile

Ride Description

We weren't in any great rush to leave so didn't set off till 11am. Janet had arranged for us to stay at a camp-site just south of Builth Wells. 

We headed off to Abbey Cwm Hir to see the old abbey ruins and the pretty village church.

Abbey Cwm HirAbbey Cwm Hir

The riding was easy, mainly downhill through rolling wooded hills. At Abbey Cwm Hir, we had originally planned to turn back to Rhayader and pick up the C8 route there, but decided that it would be better to find a more direct route to Buith instead. We made good progress as the Liverpool to Gloucester route seemed to be downhill all the way.

Builth WellsBuilth Wells

Just outside of Builth we stopped on open grazing land to have lunch and called Janet to cancel the pre-booked site. We cycled down into Builth and shopped for dinner. 

We set off from Builth along the Wye valley and in the village of Glasbury we stopped for light refreshment. 

We cycled on and soon saw a camp site on the way to Hay on Wye. It was a strange place, being at the back of a pub and leading down through woodland to the river. Everything had a half finished feel to it. The main toilet block was only powered by generator and so had no hot showers or lights in the evening. The alternative was some Portakabin type showers, which were not very clean. In fact they could have bordered on being a health hazard. The plumbing was a bit Heath Robinson with pipes that burst apart when the water was switched on. 

In the woods were some Tee-Pee tents and a group of kids having a birthday party. 

We pitched up and spent the evening with some other folks that had built a fire. One of the women who was a little on the "earth mother" side sang and played her guitar. Actually she was pretty good. The night was clear and we sat and watched the stars until it got too cold so went to bed, only to be woken up in the early hours by some guy coming back to his tent, drunk as a lord and singing "Dirty Old Town".

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Liverpool to Gloucester - Day 8 - Hay on Wye to Marstow

  • Distance            55km
  • Max Elevation     300m

Liverpool to Gloucester - Hay on Wye to Marstow Ride Profile

Ride Description

The next day we were expecting an easy ride to start with, getting harder as the day wore on as we got closer to Marstow, and it turned out pretty much as we had expected. 

We were late getting started on our Liverpool to Gloucester ride and then stopped after only 15 minutes for coffee in Hay on Wye and to look at the Castle. During the night Karen's sleep bed had developed a pin prick leak so we called at an outdoor shop in Hay to get a puncture kit. The guy happened to have just the thing. Platypus repair patches that he proceeded to tell us cost £6 each, but that we could have them for a donation to the Air Ambulance. We deposited about a £1(all we could afford) and set off, (again people's help and generosity astounds us). 

From Hay we set off over the brow and down River Dore or so called "Golden Valley", talking the back road to Peterchurch where we had decided to stop for a traditional Sunday Lunch. We sat and ate roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, cabbage, carrots, roast parsnips and roast potatoes, while we watched the Singapore Grand Prix on the television. 

Fully fed we set off again on our Liverpool to Gloucester route down the valley Ewyas Harold and then into the area of the Three Castles of Grosmont, Skenfrith and Pembridge which was very hilly and tiring. 

We stopped in Skenfrith to view the Castle and...

Skenfrith CastleSkenfrith Castle

...the small church...

Skenfrith ChurchSkenfrith Church

...which is in need of renovation, but consequently retains many of its original features. 

We were pleased to find a table at the back of the church with delicious looking home made cakes for sale, starving again and only 2 hours since lunch. Skenfrith village shop was basically in a shed and served teas, cakes and gifts. 

From Skenfirth our Liverpool to Gloucester route cut off the main B roads onto the maze of small single track lanes that are common to the area. Most of these are unmarked and we had to ask the way at one point to get us back on track. After crossing several valleys with steep ups and downs we arrived at Marstow and our camp site for the next two nights.

Skenfrith Village ShopSkenfrith Village Shop

We didn't have to move on today, so we had a rest day. We went off on the bikes without a load (the first time without a load in 4 weeks). We cycled up the steep 20% hill at Symonds Yat to the view point overlooking Yat Rock and back towards the village. 

From there we rode on some 5 miles to Coleford, which we had expected to be a lovely little Gloucestershire town, but were really underwhelmed, it having no real attraction that we could perceive.

Yat RockYat Rock

We had a nice lunch, did our shopping for the night's dinner and cycled back to Symonds Yat where we sat by the lovely river in the warm September sunshine and drank Theakston's Old Peculiar while we watched the traditional hand drawn ferry carrying foot passengers across the river. 

We headed back to our camp site and spent our time updating our blog and planning our Liverpool to Gloucester route for next day. In the warm afternoon sun we sat and drank brown ale and watched with fascination as a kingfisher flew and perched on a branch over the river just in front of us. Unfortunately we weren't quick enough to capture it on film.

Symonds Yat FerrySymonds Yat Ferry

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Liverpool to Gloucester - Day 9 - Marstow to Gloucester

  • Distance            44km
  • Max Elevation     130m

Liverpool to Gloucester - Marstow to Gloucester Ride Profile

Ride Description

Tuesday we were to head off to stay with our old university friends Mark and Anne-Marie Lightowler.

Our Liverpool to Gloucester ride today started, and continued with beautifully warm sunshine. We packed and were away by about 10-15. There is a lack of pre-defined cycle routes through and around the Forest of Dean, so we planned our own Liverpool to Gloucester route, circumventing the Forest due to the steep hills and taking a northern route following the B roads up to Newent and then down to Gloucester. We managed to find the traffic free route into Gloucester and started to think about finding Mark and Anne-Marie's address on Malvern Road.

We asked a local the way to Malvern Road. He looked at us, confused and said he didn't know of a Malvern Road. Thinking he maybe just didn't know the area that well we headed into the center of Gloucester and found the Tourist Information.

Steve went in and asked the girl how to get to Malvern Road. She promptly typed it into her computer. "That's in Gloucester yeah?" At this point Steve is beginning to get concerned. He checks the text that mark had sent with their address. It was not Gloucester, but Worcester!!!! He mumbled some lame excuse and exited to explain the faux pas to Karen. Her restraint was that of a saint. We called Mark and told him what we had done and that we would try to get the train to Worcester (another £20 out of our budget). Ever efficient and calm Mark, called us back within minutes. "OK here is what we do....". Now fortunately Mark worked in Gloucester. We went to his factory and stored the bikes there whilst he took us and our bags back to their place in Worcester. What a hero! As for Steve? "Plonker" doesn't exactly summarise the words that Karen used. 

Suffice it to say Anne-Marie cooked us a great dinner that night and a few Pimms and glasses of red wine made our cares disappear. 

The following day we spent the time seeing the center of Worcester and purchasing a few essential items. In the afternoon we spent time emailing, sorting out the blog and financial stuff. Its hard work this travelling retirement lark!

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