CYCLING LON LAS CYMRU
Cycling Lon Las Cymru
by Richard Barrett
Cicerone August 2018
Paperback Gloss Laminated
Reviewed by Steve Dyster
At £11.95 for 128 pages, you might be forgiven for feeling that this is quite a pricey guide. However, it is very much up to Cicerone’s usual authoratative, well-organised, clear standard. In addition to that, despite its apparent popularity, guides to Lon Las Cymru are few and far between. Sustrans published one by Ben Giles, but that is no longer in their shop and the one advertised on Amazon stands at £294.00, at the time of writing - beware of inflation!
Lon Las Cymru covers around 250 dleightful miles, crossing from the south east, at either Cardiff or Chepstow, to Holyhead. Steeped in beautiful scenery and a host of historic sites, and passing through numerous small towns and villages, it is a fine introduction to cycling in Wales.
Richard Barrett has already written guides to Cycling in the Hebrides, Cycling in the Lake District, and The Hebridean Way, for Cicerone. He maintains a sensible and relaxed approach to cycling in remote and mountainous areas. That’s admirable while a notion that hills are difficult for cyclists is so common amongst newcomers to cycle touring. He points out that, although one is riding through a mountainous land, gradients on the route are rarely severe and the scenic rewards are great
Format is exactly that we are familiar with. Overview and general planning charts and maps give way to general advice things then get more specific regarding how to get to the route - a useful diagram demonstrates that although much of the route is remote it is rarely awfully far from a railway station. In my opinion the authors advice is sound on bike and equipment. Even better, you never get the impression that you must possess the pioneering spirit of Burton on his way to the source of the Nile. Yes, you’ll have your own adventure, but this is a grand bike ride rather than a series of obstacles to be overcome.
The maps will provide all the detail needed to find your way. Of course, there is route description, including hints for those heretics heading from north to south. Unlike some recent Cicerone guides to popular cycling routes, the author does not give any day excursions based on the main drag. He does offer a few alternatives and short-cuts, but that is as far as it goes. Needless to say, the guide covers the way from the two southern termini at Cardiff and Chepstow to the junction at Glasbury on the River Wye, and on to Holyhead.
Five Stages are suggested, but the author points out that this is just for organisations sake. Less confident, less strong, or those bent on absolute leisure, will appreciate his advice to add more time to the more strenuous sections in mid-Wales.
By the way, there are some smasing photos if you need inspiration.
Do you need this guide? Well, that is up to you, of course. It will inspire you; it will help you prepare and plan; it will guide you through to the end. On the other hand, the route is signed as part of the National Cycle Network (NCR8,NCR42) and two maps that include more info than just the route are available at £9.99 each, from the Sustrans shop. As ever, a guide tells you more than the way; it points out places you may wish to tarry, advises on where to stay and what to eat. On that last point, Welsh Cakes are included in the ten things to try. if you are coming from outside Wales. Brought back memories of the meltingly sweet, fruit-filled Welsh Cakes that Mrs. Morris used to bake when I lodged in a village between Swansea and the Gower. But that is getting a long way fromn Lon Las Cymru and this very good guide.