Oh Brenin, we love you – we’ll be back…

Posing on the green route

So, how did the weekend go?…

Friday

Our (now annual) trip to Coed Y Brenin started off with just a few us setting off from a very damp and drizzly Ramsbottom. Hardly the start we wanted but hey we were packed an en-route to Llandegla to ride the red trail there first to warm us up for the weekend ahead.

Starting the packing
Taking two of us to figure out how to do a rapid charge whilst having a brew

We arrived at ‘Degla in good time and met up with several more members. By this point the weather was glorious with not a hint of rain and ‘Degla trail centre was really quiet as probably a lot of folk were put off by the weather – how ironic! So it felt a little bit like having the place to ourselves.

We were planning to ‘tackle the red’ as it would be a great warm up for the weekend ahead. This held a different meaning for each and every one of us, with Jo ‘facing her demons’ on some aspects of the trail.

Andy R tackling some ‘North Shore’ style action
Jo about to drop in and conquer her nemesis

Llandegla ended up being a very wet ride from lots of puddles, but the sunshine was out and we all had a blast! After the ride we all had lunch at the cafe, and can honestly say we’ve never seen the centre so quiet – there were literally maybe two other benches occupied with folk eating but that was it. It was a wonderful start to the weekend, just existing in a ‘bubble of contentment & mindfulness’ with the only focus needed being the need to ride, eat and laugh with friends. Perfect.

And so after a quick change, it was onwards we headed to our accommodation near Dolgellau for the weekend. After just over an hour’s drive we were done and could start settling in.

Our traditional Welsh long house accommodation

We arrived around 6ish, with a few other folk already there, so it was time to get the barbie started! Traditionally we have a BBQ on that lovely lawn you see above as there’s so much room to chill out and it’s a lovely setting. It made it easy for folk arriving at different times to join the BBQ when thet arrived.

Diane doing a BBQ ‘photo bomb’
Caption competition…

After the BBQ we all retired to the big house for drinks and banter, where the ‘table Disaronno’ managed to disappear in less than an hour! Needless to say there were some sore heads the following morning…

Saturday

Started off great! This was due to the weather that was (surprisingly) looking fantastic. That first morning in the big house is always a joy to behold, as loads of folk busily run around the kitchen making themselves a good fueling breaky for the days riding ahead, then sitting down to eat at a group table where discussions are usually one of several topics:

  • Who got the most drunk last night?
  • Who fancys riding ‘The Beast’ today?
  • Is Ted ready yet?

The answer to last question, on this occasion, was yes! We were due to meet Tom at Coed Y Brenin as he was travelling up that morning so we were aiming to be there for around ten(ish). It was on arriving at the centre that Jo said she’d had a text from Tom to say he would see us later that evening as he had a stinking hangover!

It’s at this point on these trips that we naturally divide into groups to cater for everyones needs and ability. Some do black routes, some do red and some might do the skills loop for a bit. We actually all rode the ‘Red Fox’ route first which is just sublime. A really fab trail with just the right amount of techy reward for the amount of climbing you need to put in. If you go, do go and try it out.

After a good ride on the fox we all then paused for lunch at the cafe which is just superb with perhaps one of the best views from a cafe anywhere in the UK.

What a lovely view whilst having a brew

Lunch was very leisurely, sat there in the ‘bubble of contentment’ just soaking up the atmosphere. What the above pic doesn’t show is that the Saturday was heaving as there was also a marathon event on at the centre with that courtyard below being the finish point. It all added up to providing a wonderful atmosphere. It was great to see entire families out with kids on their bikes, which looked to be a recurring them for folk living local to the trails.

Enjoying the views
Only 2.5 hours away and views as good as anywhere in the world

So, onto more riding in the afternoon – with rather full bellies and in some cases we had a cheeky cider. The afternoon’s ride for most was a more tame affair with a lot of people choosing to ride the blue Minotaur, officially voted as one the best blue trails in the country. With burms, swooping singletrack, pump track style sections and amazing scenery this trail offers enough to be ridden again and again and is totally understated by ‘just being a blue’. If you’re up for fun riding and some mindful mountain biking then this is the trail for you.

After the Minotaur was done, and maybe another leisurely coffee at the cafe, most folk were shattered and headed back to their accommodation (just a short ten minute drive) to get freshened up and chill out a bit. The plan for the evening was to head out into Barmouth to just see if we could grab some fish n chips and then maybe a cheeky pint afterwards. Well, we did find a fish n chip but but perhaps didn’t expect it to look like this…

Good ol’ British humour. The ‘C’ on the other sign around the corner was the same
Having a nice posh fish n chips.

After a surprisingly good fish n chips, we headed down to ‘The Last Inn’ for a quick drink before heading back.

Enjoying the evening sunshine while it was chucking it down (apparently) back home in Rammy

And that pretty much wrapped up the events of Saturday as we all headed back after a quick drink.

Sunday

Started off being just as enjoyable as Saturday morning with folk buzzing around the kitchen making breakfast, wondering who was planning on doing what trail, and yes – if Ted was ready. He was by the way.

Most folk were going to be heading home today as work beckoned on Monday but there were a few us going to stay overnight to the Monday.

So to make the most of the day, the majority of the group headed back to Coed Y Brenin park to do bits that they didn’t get to do the day before. With another great day’s weather and perfect trails everyone was buzzing, grinning like cheshire cats after finishing their rides after which we all regrouped to have dinner at the cafe, soak in the views, enjoy that ‘bubble of contentment’ again and just generally being mindful of being in that moment of doing what you love with great friends who feel the same.

The waterfall behind was majestic and needs to be seen

So as most folk were heading off home, there were literally just a handful of us left. We tried booking a meal in a decent pub for the evening and must have gone through about ten different options until we resorted to our plan B – The Ship Inn in Dolgellau which I must say surprised us all. The food was lovely and homely, the staff were great and the place was a lovely big old hotel tastefully decorated so it topped off a rather splendid weekend very nicely.

Monday

Monday started with a bit of a shock as there were literally only two of us left in the big house and another two in other accommodation. The kitchen felt very different that morning without the usual excited anticipation in the air, and the usual few questions being asked.

So we left the house all tidied up with thoughts of coming back as soon as we can. Three out of the four members remaining rode the Marin trail on the way and said it was absolutely awesome.

Thank you Wales for yet another epic weekend of sublime riding, lots of eating, lots of drinking, and creating great memories with friends. We’ll see you soon…

The house with a very empty car park and feeling very empty

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