Trans Cambrian

Last summer Harry and I headed off to Wales to ride the Trans Cambrian mountain bike route which runs for 100 miles from Knighton, on the England / Wales border over the Cambrian mountains to Dovey Junction on Cardigan Bay. About 70% of the ride is off-road on bridleways, singletrack and doubletrack, through some fairly remote Welsh countryside.

We took some photos and video, and made a little film (at the bottom of this post).

Ready to leave Knighton….

…and follow the yellow arrows.

Harry’s happy.

Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.

The trails are lined with purple…

…and pink.

In some places, the vegetation is taking over.

There are many sheep.

We take a pause…

…and clean off some mud.

Harry doesn’t seem to like mud.

After a pub tea and a night in a campsite by a river, we’re ready to go again.

But soon need to stop for tea.

So we park the bikes…

…and wonder whether this one would be more comfortable.

After tea, we ride alongside a river.

Soon there are more sheep.

We find a big dam.

Harry can’t believe how big it is.

We wonder what (or who) is in here.

We follow the lakeside…

…as the clouds become moody.

There are many lakes.

That night we find a spot to camp in the woods…

…and drink some whiskey.

In the morning, the sun is back…

…and we ride down a beautiful valley.

We stop to cook a little breakfast…

…whilst avoiding the thistles.

My bike is covered in bags.

Whilst Harry’s setup is nice and simple…

…with a couple of drybags strapped onto the bars and rack, and a couple of panniers.

He likes it a lot.

The road leads off into the distance again.

Thankfully there’s not too much wind today.

We ride along the edge of a gorge…

…cutting through the vegetation…

…and then down a steep bit.  Harry doesn’t like steep bits.

We cross some more hills…

…and look down into valleys…

Harry tries not to fall into the river.

That night we eventually find a farmer’s field to camp in…

We eat an Expedition Meal…

…and some Adventure Food.

When dawn comes…

…the grass is covered in dew.

Droplets hang on every blade.

Birds sit on a wire.

Slowly we pack up our gear for the final time.

We ride past a secret gorge…

…eat some trailside snacks…

…and discover a deserted house in the woods.

We wonder what lies inside…

…and discover…

…a special forest supply.

We take a jar, and leave our money in the jar.

Eventually, we reach the end, and wait for a ride of a different kind back to England…

Waiting in Shrewsbury for a train back to Knighton, we happen upon Lily’s Tea Room, in a curious overgrown garden with a treasure trove of nic nacs…

…some of which are in keeping with the tea shop theme…

…whilst others are slightly less so…

We both took some video and I put this little film together. It was my first attempt at making something like this. It’s far from perfect, a lot of the clips (and hence the whole film) are too long, the difference in quality from the different cameras is huge, some of the editing is a bit sloppy and the clips towards the end are a little random and not totally in keeping with the tunes (although they do reflect the trip). I also some have extra footage from Harry and have been meaning to re-cut the film to include it. Perhaps I’ll get around to that at some point, but for now, it is what it is. It was fun to make, I learnt heaps and it makes me smile. And you get to listen to three songs by Deers, a small band from Norwich who I stumbled across in a tiny tent late at night at Latitude 2013.

You can get information on the Trans Cambrian route from the IMBA – we ordered their printed route guide with maps. We stayed in possibly the oddest B&B in Knighton (which I therefore won’t recommend) and left our car there over the weekend, timing things so that we got to Dovey Junction on the morning of the fourth day and had plenty of time to get the train back to Knighton via Shrewsbury.  An awesome few days.

Posted in Film, Microadventures and tagged , , .


  1. You’ve been busy writing Chris! This is another great post, the words and pictures are perfect 🙂
    Looks like it was a fantastic trip. I wish I’d been fit enough to go with you guys!

  2. Thanks…just trying to catch up. It is a very cool route. Don’t worry though, there’s always the BiCentennial National Trail in Oz… (Where are you guys going to be living?)


    • Of course 🙂 We’ll be in Townsville, near the top of the route map you sent me. Almost perfect for a BNT trip 🙂

    • Thanks Mike. There is a lot of good stuff in the UK. I came across a couple of people who have done an off-road Lands End to John O’Groats… It took about a month. So tempting!

  3. Pingback: trans cambrian extras – sights and sounds | (Un)Inspired Ramblings

    • Thanks so much Cass. I read your magazine article on the route before we did it, although I didn’t realise that you were the author at the time. It is a great route. Despite my criticisms of the video, it was really satisfying to make and watching it again makes me smile. I’d like to make some more.

      • I think the video came out really well – I’m sure it’s a steep learning curve. It certainly brought back some great memories.

        I never actually saw that Cycling Plus piece. It was originally written for a bike magazine that sadly went defunct, so lay dormant for some time. Eventually, C+ picked it up, so I’m glad it was actually read!

        • Yeah, I think I learnt lots. I’m sure I have a pdf copy of that article somewhere in my email. I can send it on to you if you’re interested in seeing how it came out?

          • Sure, if you get the chance at some point, that would be great.

            I’ve long meant to have a crack at making a video. I’ll have to consult you for setup details at some point!

          • On their way. There are many people better qualified to talk about making films than I… But, the good quality footage is from an Olympus OM-D EM-5, which has really good image stabilisation. However, I got tired of its slightly awkward shape and feeling like I needed to constantly change lenses, so have replaced it with a Fuji X100S for simplicity. It’s not great for video features and has no stablisation, so I think I’ll have to focus on stable, static shots. That may not be a bad thing though.

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