Sometimes I wonder if my family could be any less cool. The family car is a Ford Escort, we regularly and enthusiastically visit national trust properties for a day out and we own a static caravan on the Welsh South Coast. Of course this gives us some fairly explicit indicators as to what to do with our bank holiday weekends. Luckily, the location of our ‘van just happens to be my favourite place in the world.
There are three things I like about the little, poorly heated, tin box we refer to as a caravan: it shares its doorstep with the ocean, the same doorstep is also employed by possibly the best café in the country and there are trails in abundance. One such trail is Y Dyffryn – The Valley.
It begins with the smallest of spins down a knackered single-track road before cutting down through a tunnel of shrubbery dissecting a farm. From afar, this descent appears fairly elementary; a generously wide trail, almost totally lacking in corners. It isn’t until you achieve the on-board perspective that that opinion begins to evolve. The loose, fist sized rocks play havoc with the rear wheel and one miniscule miscalculation could lead to tragedy as a rusty, barbed wire fence ominously looms. It’s a good one for testing depth perception and spatial awareness as you begin to approach the valley’s basin.
In the cover of the trees, the next few hundred metres offer a precious few minutes of recuperation before it begins to wind up through the trees, persistently strangled by the flora’s hefty limbs.
It’s then up and along an unused road, past the local rugby club and through some mosquito hotspots, before taking a sharp right-hander through a gate and embarking on the final descent.
As a downhill, it’s exciting. The wide, often dusty trail is strewn with rocks that make it a real hold-on-and-hope- job. However, where this declination really excels is in the scenery. It appears initially fairly ordinary, but come the second bend you are immersed in a purge f sea air and a glorious view of Pwll Du Bay below. Amidst the breath-taking vista it is a struggle to maintain focus and you are left vulnerable to mistakes and more than a few hairy moments.
Though not long (just over 8km) upon completing this ride, one can’t help but feel drained. The various climbs empty the legs and I defy anyone to successfully negotiate the final down without experiencing a scorching degree of lactate in the forearms.
It’s a gem.