LEGENDS CYCLE ROUTE
Four local authorities in South West Wales have joined together to promote a leisure cycle route based around local Legends. Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Swansea Bay and Neath Port Talbot, have supported a website with all the information needed to follow the route and discover the sites associated with the “Legends.”
“Legend” is given a broad interpretation. From the very well known Richard Burton and Dylan Thomas to the less well known Waldo Williams and Dic Penderyn, real people are included; the South Wales Miners’ Museum is there, too. Then there’s the gate to the entrance to the Celtic underworld, Merlin, Arthur and the mysterious standing stones; legendary industrial sites, such as the Brunel’s Dock and Tower and the adjacent “Giants Grave” - once the site of a major ship-breaking enterprise. In fact all the stuff that has combined to make South Wales what it is in the imagination, the ethereal and the tough reality of day-to-day life.
Sounds interesting? Well, those who have followed the long-standing Celtic Trail (West) using the northern option to Fishguard might feel a bit done-down. The Legends Trail does not copy it all the way, but borrows heavily. It does offer several diversions to places of interest. Some of the diversions are quite lengthy - like that to Abberdulais, north of Neath, others no more than a few hundred metres. In addition, the Legends route is a theme that guides one to particular sites, as well as a good bike ride. Overall, extensive use is made of the National Cycle Network.
Some might be tempted to head straight for rural Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire. However, in my opinion, it is the mixture and complexity of the land traversed on this route that is attractive. Many cyclists will have visited the far west of Wales, so look forward to exploring the hills behind Port Talbot, the coast to Briton Ferry, the Neath Valley, Swansea Bay (why not make a diversion of your own up the fascinating Swansea Valley - once the site of the World’s Copperopolis).
The route leaves Swansea Bay along the Clyne Valley - well-worth popping down to the Mumbles though, before heading inland and on to Llanelli and Kidwelly. Here the route skirts the beautiful Towy Estuary for a distance, before heading into Carmarthen. Thence it rolls across the Carmarthenshire hills to enter Pembrokeshire. Fishguard is reached by delightful open moorland roads along the southern slopes of the Preseli Hills.
“Legends” come thick and fast along the way.
There are extensive sections of traffic-free cycling. Clearly not a route to follow if you are in a rush, it is one that cyclists of most ambitions and on most types of bike could cope with at their own pace. At 190 km long, the good news is that much of the route is within a few miles of a railway line. Although trains may have limited space for bikes and they run with less frequency than might be desired, a bit of planning might get you a long way if you legs get tired or you want to leave your kit in one place.
It looks to Seven Day Cyclist that here is yet another good example of local authorities recognising the contribution leisure cycling can bring to their own communities as well as bringing tourists into the region. At the same time, it looks like a fine leisure ride and I look forward to taking a new look at the area.
Details can be found at www.southwest.wales/legends/cycling/
PUBLISHED JANUARY 2017