Continuing our series of blog posts covering the myriad opportunities for outstanding adventures on two wheels from our base in Hay-on-Wye, we’re turning the spotlight on leisure cycling!
But before we get to the routes, what do we think makes a great leisure ride? And how does leisure cycling differ from a full-on roadie outing?
We reckon a leisure route is less about riding for the sake of it, and more about what you see along the way. Distances are shorter and less physically demanding. You’re not obliged to go all out to tick off a categorised climb and routes generally take quieter roads with interesting stop-offs along the way – which is another way of saying they’re great for adventurous families. Maybe even drag dad out for one on Father’s Day in a week’s time!
Sold? Then saddle up, let’s ride…
1. Eardisley and Bredwardine – 24 miles / 2-4 hours plus stops.
This one straddles the border between England and Wales and explores sleepy Herefordshire villages via quiet country roads, with two great pub stops along the way!
Turn right out of the Drover Cycles car park and right again at the bottom of Forest Road. Stay on the main road, heading out of town towards Clifford and onwards to Whitney where the historic wooden toll bridge takes you across the River Wye.
Head east for a short distance on the A438 then bear off left on a quiet lane to Eardisley, where the Tram Inn serves great home-cooked food and quailty real ales and ciders.
Another quiet lane takes you to Almeley before you head south to Kinnersley, crossing the A4112 and continuing to Letton. After half a mile on the A438, head south again to the tiny hamlet of Bredwardine, crossing the Wye again via a brick arched bridge. (As a diversion, consider stopping off at nearby Brobury House and Gardens). If you’re in need of refreshments, dive in the Red Lion pub – a former 17th Century coaching Inn – before the final 8 miles back to Hay along the B4352.
Extend this route and make a day of it – an extra 28 miles / 3-4 hours – to explore some of Herefordshire’s black and white villages. From Almeley trend east through Woonton and Meer Common to the A4112, crossing it to Weobley. Leave the village again trending east, then swing north to Dilwyn and onwards through Lower Burton to Eardisland. Go west then South to Pembridge and continue south to Bearwood – you’ll pass legendary cider mill Dunkertons on the way where you can stock up at the mill shop. Go west through Weston (the watergardens and follies make an interesting stop), then head southwest and, finally, south back to Almeley.
2. Bronllys Castle – 20 miles / 2-4 hours plus stops
An award-winning eatery and a Norman fortress feature on this ride, which criss-crosses the Wye to the West of Hay-on-Wye.
Head southwest out of town on National Cycle Network route 8, through Llanigon and Velindre to Talgarth, where the cafe at the restored 18th Century watermill (winner of the National Tourism Award Wales for best place to eat!) serves light lunches, freshly baked bread and cakes and tea and coffee. From there it’s a five-minute ride to Bronllys Castle, an 870-year-old motte and bailey fortress – its three floors are free to explore.
Head north, crossing the A438, and climb steeply past Mintfield Farm before descending to the main A479 road where you turn left and through Llyswen (opportunity here for a pub stop at the ivy-clad Griffin Inn) to Boughrood (another pub opportunity – the Bridgend Inn).
Cross the Wye here taking the B4350 east through Boughrood Brest to Glasbury, and cross the Wye again climbing away from the main road to rejoin NCN route 8 for the last dig, retracing the route northeast back to Hay.
3. The Golden Valley – 29 miles / 3-5 hours plus stops
Hit up an idyllic country pub, or extend the route for more award-winning food (fish and chips this time!) over the border in neighbouring Herefordshire.
Head out of Hay trending east on the B4348 Hardwicke Road, staying on the B4348 by turning right at Hardwicke and onwards to Dorstone. (Here, a steep diversion northeast takes you to Arthur’s Stone, a neolithic burial chamber on the hill overlooking the Golden Valley.)
Stay on the B4348, through Peterchurch to Vowchurch, where there’s a chance to stop at the Poston Mill tearooms and restaurant, then turn off right on a tiny lane to Michaelchurch Escley, home of the Bridge Inn country pub. Here you’ll find locally produced food plus real ales and ciders.
Briefly retrace the route back towards Vowchurch, then bear off left on another quiet lane towards Urishay before heading east back towards Peterchurch. Turn left before reaching the village to take a quiet road back to Dorstone. From here, retrace the route on the main road back to Hay.
Extend this route for award-winning fish and chips! Instead of turning off for Michaelchurch at Vowchurch, head south on the B4347, past Bacton Stud and through Abbey Dore to Ewyas Harold, home of The Old Stables fish and chip shop. Then head west, cross Escley brook, and go north to Michaelchurch Escley.
4. Erwood Station – 25 miles / 2-4 hours plus stops
This route skirts the rolling Radnorshire Marches north of Hay and returns with a stint beside the River Wye, taking in a country pub and art gallery / tea room along the way.
From Hay, cross the river on the main bridge (B4351) towards Clyro, cross the bypass and climb out of the village following signs for Painscastle. The road opens at the National Trust-owned Begwns common before a rollercoaster descent towards Painscastle followed by a short, steep dig up into the village itself. Replenish at the Roast Ox Inn then head west on the B4594 to Erwood where there’s another chance to refuel at Erwood Station art gallery.
Stay on the east bank of the River Wye, taking a lane south to Boughrood then, as for the previous route, follow the B4350 back to Glasbury before climbing to the Llanigon Road and National Cycle Network route 8 back to Hay.
Get in touch with us via [email protected] or on 01497 822419 if you’d like a free GPX file of any of these routes!
Remember we have a massive fleet of hire bikes, available from as little as £20 for half a day, or take advantage of our special family rate (two adults and two children) at £60 for half a day. We also have motor-assisted e-bikes for hire at £25 for half a day.
And don’t forget that if you’re hiring at least two bikes for a day or more, we deliver FREE within a 20-mile radius.