I have only ever seen Pistyll Rhaeadr from above during a multiday expedition across the Berwyn’s range when I was a teenager, it was about time that I saw it from the bottom! This is one of those rare occasions that I rode with another Audaxer. We also took the opportunity to undertake the two mountain roads (Llangynog Climb, Bwlch Long) to and from Bala at the same time.
It was a typical Welsh misty morning when we started from Guilsfield near Welshpool and to be honest, we never really lost this Welsh mist as every time we climbed it was into the cloud and mist. We had a pleasant ride to Pistyll Rhaeadr with a few sharp climbs along the way, but we were looking forward to the cup of tea at the tea shop. The waterfall can make for a spectacular photograph if you can hairbrush out all the other tourists trying to get a photo! The wet rocks can be slippy in your cycling shoes so take care.
Leaving Pistyll Rhaeadr it did not take long to reach the first mountain road over to Bala (B4391) but thankfully it was a long gradual Cat2 climb with a wide and fast descent off the top. It does get a little twisty towards the bottom, but you pop out at the Bala lake and it is a fast sprint to the café on the high street. We saw four Red Kites along this section and two were very close to the road, I am assuming they were using the thermals.
After lunch, we traced our route back to Bala lake and traversed its length before starting to climb back over the mountain road (Bwlch Long) to Vyrnwy. This road felt much steeper and it differently became steeper as you neared the top. I would say that we had amazing views but we had a few feet of visibility and misted-up glasses.
The descent to Vyrnwy is fast and there is a lot of loss gravel and potholes so take care. As you reach Vyrnwy lake there is a wonderful stone arch bridge which you will ride over and is almost hidden in the trees. The road along the lake is fast and in places, some of the trees which line the road would me make a specular photo, but the weather was not on our side for photos.
The final push back to Guilsfield provides some of the steepest climbing of the day and apart of one vista there was not much to see, except the eagles sitting on the telegraph poles! If I do this route again, I think I would take a more flat and direct route back to Guilsfield.