Feature: Top Five Mountain Roads in Mid Wales - Not for the faint-hearted!
Published: Friday 17th Jan 2014
Written by: The Wales Cottage Holidays Team
This selection of spectacular mountain roads in Mid Wales over the Cambrians includes single track lanes through remote countryside, very steep gradients with hairpin bends and some rather alarming sheer drops at the side of the road. So for Wales Holidays cottage visitors taking any of these routes - enjoy but take care!
The first trip over the Cambrian Mountains is from Beulah, about 8 miles east of Builth Wells on the A483. Just west of the junction with the B4358, take the Abergwesyn road which meanders for five miles to reach this small hamlet. Turn right here to climb up alongside the Irfon and when you cross over this river, the gradient and the bends turn serious as you negotiate what is known as the Devils Staircase through the forest reaching a height of some 471m.
Another 1.5 miles brings you to a junction with two alternative routes. Turning left will take you on a 10 mile trip through forest and along the banks of Llyn Brianne until you reach the dam at the southern end of the lake - the view here is really something special. The road continues south through the small village of Rhandirmwyn and onto Llandovery. Or carry straight on towards Tregaron (about 6 miles) and the road eventually starts to drop down until you arrive in the centre of the town by the Talbot Hotel.
To the north is another road across the Cambrians - the Cymystwyth mountain road; from Rhayader, take the B4518 Elan road and turn right as you leave the town. The route climbs steadily for 4 miles up to a height of around 500m and then drops down to the northern end of the Graig Coch Reservoir (you can take a left turn here and follow the Elan Valley reservoirs down to Elan Village). Continuing west across open country, the lane follows the upper reaches of the Elan river before clinging to the sides of a steep gorge as the Ystwyth plunges down over 100m; the valley to Cwmystwyth has reminders of its former importance as a lead mining area. Just after the village, turn left for Pontrydygroes (well worth stopping at Hafod) or onto Devil’s Bridge and Aberystwyth.
Travelling west towards Aberystwyth on the A44 from Llangurig, the turning for the Nant-y-Moch road over the mountains to Talybont will be on your right when you reach the village of Ponterwyd. The lane climbs past the small Dinas Reservoir to a height of around 400m to reach the dam at the southern end of the extensive Nant-y-Moch Reservoir. It then continues for two miles or so along the western banks of the lake, into forestry and then five miles down to the centre of Talybont which is on the A487 Aberystwyth to Machynlleth road.
Our final road is from Llanidloes to Machynlleth with the first part of the route taking in the B4518 from the town, climbing up to give some stunning views of Llyn Clywedog. About 1.5 miles after Staylittle, turn left onto the mountain road itself which reaches a height of some 500m before dropping down through the hamlets of Aberhosan and Forge to reach the A489 at Machynlleth.