The Sarn Helen, or Wales Coast 2 Coast, is a 430km epic trail that ebbs and flows its way from Conwy in North Wales, to Worm's Head on the Gower, South Wales.
The trail passes through some of the most beautiful and breathtaking scenery in Wales. You will traverse the crags of Eryri, ride the spine of the Cambrian Mountains, pass over Bannau Brycheiniog, and cross The Gower, all in one week.
It's a trail that will test your stamina and bike riding skills, but will leave you with lifelong memories of travelling through one of the most rugged and beautiful landscapes in the world.
The Sarn Helen is no easy multi-day adventure. Riding the length and breadth of Wales will push your body and mind to the limit day after day as you climb nearly 30,000ft (8500m) over six days riding through some of the most challenging, wild and remote landscapes in the UK.
With this in mind, we have developed an itinerary to support your every need along the 430km. High quality, comfortable accommodation, with tasty food to keep your energy levels up both on the ride, and post-ride. Your clothing, equipment and spares are transferred, with trailside support from the van when you need it most, and more importantly, an experienced local mountain bike guide to keep you on track and time each day. That way, you are able to make the most of a well-earned rest and a celebratory drink every evening with your fellow riders.
As this is one of the most challenging rides in the UK, you will need to be capable of riding for several hours, possibly in harsh conditions (it is August after all) and climb around 5000ft per day. You should be comfortable at riding routes such as the West Highland Way, Pennine Way, and Trans Cambrian Way with some ease. But no two days are the same on any trail, and many factors can make it a great day riding, or a challenging one wherever you are. So please think carefully when considering taking on this challenge.
Day 1 Conwy to Bronaber – approx. 70km
We start our journey in Conwy, on the North Wales Coast. It's not long before we get our first glimpse of the towering peaks of Eryri (formerly Snowdonia) and panoramic views from Llyn Cowlyd. We wind our way through the park passing Capel Curig, Penmachno, Llan Ffestinog and onto our first night on the trail at Bronaber.
Day 2 Bronaber to Machynlleth – approx. 75km. The Sarn Helen first takes us into the forest of Kings, Coed Y Brenin. From here we head toward southern Eryri and climb the northern slopes of Cadair Idris with stunning views of the Mawdach Estuary and Cardigan Bay. Through Broad Water we head over the pass and into the Dyfi Estuary for a well earned rest.
Day 3 Machynlleth to Devils Bridge - approx. 55km. From Machynlleth, we start our day heading into the Cambrian Mountains with a tough traverse of Foel Fadian and Glaslyn, before heading south under the highest summit, Pymlymon Fawr at 755m. We ride the shore of Nant y Moch before heading over the top passing Nant yr Arian, on to Devils Bridge and the stunning Hafod Estate.
Day 4 Devils Bridge to Builth Wells - approx. 75km . We head east into the heart of the Cambrian Mountains, passing the remote Teifi Pools, and onto the largest of the Elan Valley reservoirs, Claerwen. The sunken road, and a traverse of Caban Coch Reservoir leads on into the Wye Valley and south along the river and out of the Cambrian Mountain Range onto Builth Wells, a buzzing market town.
Day 5 Builth Wells to Ystradfellte - approx. 60km. There is no rest out of Builth as we climb straight over the military ranges of Epynt. From here we have a stunning view of Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) with Penyfan standing proud and tall. Climbing over the mountains are our next challenge as we head past Fan Frynch and through a stunning nature reserve. From there, the Sarn Helen takes us over to Ystradfellte, with its beautiful cascades.
Day 6 Ystradfellte to Worms Head - approx. 85km We're on the home straight now, but it's no easy day and one of the longest. Riding through the valleys, we are soon reminded of the historic industrial heritage of coal mining communities that only closed some 30 years past. Onto Swansea, Wales' second largest city, and our gateway to the finish on the edge of the Gower at Worms Head. Time to celebrate!!