“Deep in the forest a call was sounding, and as often as he heard this call, mysteriously thrilling and luring, he felt compelled to… plunge into the forest…”
OK, I’m sure Jack London wasn’t thinking of a weekend away in Wales when he wrote that but bear with me, there is a tenuous link!
We don’t have much real ‘wilderness’ in the UK. But if ‘wilderness’ to you, is heading off the beaten track, going off grid, with no mobile signal, then there are parts of Wales and Scotland that fit the bill nicely.
Enter Dave Evans of Bike Corris, who asked us along for a weekend of guided riding in the 93 square miles that he calls his home trails in the Dyfi Forest.
Admittedly, Dave is more of a mountain bike man at heart, but he knows this area like the back of his hand. It didn’t take him long to show us some top class riding.
Corris is a former slate town in South Snowdonia, whose heyday was in the 19th Century. The quarry has long gone but, as with the Peak District, the post industrial landscape has become the basis for a wide range of recreational activities.
Concentrating on the cycling aspect, this translates into over 300km of gravel track in the forest, drovers roads, terminally quiet back roads and more.
As an outsider, you might be overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the options to hand. Where do you start? How can you pick a good route, or more to the point, avoid a bad one? The answer is, you employ a guide.
Dave is the man behind Bike Corris. A ‘BC Level 2’ qualified guide with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the local area and a stalwart of the local MTB scene. You really couldn’t put yourself in better hands.
Maybe the most important thing a guide will bring to the party is the skill to create a route which you will enjoy. Something to help you get the best out of the area without taking you too far beyond your comfort zone. Dave seems to have this in spades!
So what can you expect?
Each morning, we met up with Dave for the obligatory bacon sandwich and fresh coffee. While we made the most of the food, Dave outlined the plan for the day. The closely packed contour lines filled us with trepidation but we were determined not to show it.
Heading out, we found ourselves riding a really eclectic mix of trails and roads, a smorgasbord of what is available. Quiet lanes and bridleways were combined with drovers roads and gravel forest access roads. We skirted the lowlands of Caidar Idris in an easy section, and later, in stark contrast, headed down a trail called The Chute. Decidedly techy in nature, it seemed to be made up entirely of slate. We made it down in one piece but it took us very close to the limits of what a gravel bike can cope with.
Probably the most memorable part of the weekend was that we had so much fun. With all the worry and stress of ‘blind’ route planning taken away from us, we could just enjoy ourselves.
If you have ever thought about dipping your toes into the waters outside the well trodden Welsh trail centres, this might just be enough to whet your appetite and keep you coming back for more.
Photo Credits: Dave Evans, Bike Corris.
Last modified: 3rd December 2019