NOTE:- MBUK (Aug 2010) ran an article on Brechfa which was totally biased. They only rode the "Raven" which gave a negative view and tarnished the whole centre. Totally unfair as the Red Trail is BRILLIANT. Very disapointed that a magazine can undo a trail centre's hard work when they clearly haven't ridden all its trails. Quotes like "It's odd that all three of us are glad the ride is over - not because of the effort, but because we feel it's been more of a chore than a fun blast. Brechfa has potential - we've heard good things about the other trails - but the jury's out on the Raven." Well ride them and give a balanced view then!!!. I rode the red route three times and Raven once. Ride the red its TOP!!! Can confirm again as I was there again this summer (2011)!
Brechfa Forest is situated in West Wales (Carmarthenshire) in the middle of some absolutely gorgeous countryside which is very quiet and not overrun with tourists! The Forest is more easily accessible from the large southern conurbations of Wales which it would seem to serve. The surrounding countryside is not mountainous but rather hilly peaks around the area of 1200 feet. Deep valleys cut through the area, with ancient wood lands covering the steep slopes and riverbanks. This part of South Wales is a rural area of scattered villages each with its own distinctive character and history. There is plenty of climbing and descending to be had! Brechfa Forest covers some 6500 hectares and there are walking and mountain bike trails, horse riders are allowed on the fire roads.
Videos of Red Route
The famous Brechfa Forest now managed by the Forestry Commission for timber production and recreation, has a long history. In the middle ages the forest was mainly oak and ash and was an important Royal hunting ground, while until the 20th Century wood from the forest was harvested to fuel the industrial needs of South Wales. As well as playing its part in the industrial revolution, timber was taken from the forest during the First World War to produce naphtha for use in making explosives. In 1919 the Forestry Commission became managers of the forest, creating its present status as a multi-purpose forest for timber production, recreation and wildlife conservation.
There are four main trails:-
Black (severe) - The Raven Trail – 12miles and 2400 ft of climbing
Red (difficult) - The Gorlech Trail – 12miles and 3500 ft of climbing
Blue (moderate) - The Derwen Trail – 3 miles and 1000 ft of climbing
Green (easy) - The Derwen Trail - 5.5 miles and 1660 ft of climbing
The black and red trails on really well designed and pack lots of climbing with flowing downhill sections containing some giant berms. Climbing is quite tough and not for beginners but the rewards are great fun on those downhill sections. The Raven Trail, blue and green trails are picked up by parking at Byrgwm near Brechfa. The Red Trail is picked up at Abergorlech. All the trails are well waymarked and it is virtually impossible to get lost.
The black section has parts called bike park. These are supposedly free ride sections but not that difficult. There are some narrow boardwalk sections and logs which can challenge your handling skills.
When to Bike
Year round as the trails are well drained. There is tons of MTBing in the area and the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains are not that for away too.
The A482 (Lampeter to Llandovery), the A40, and the A485 (Lampeter to Carmarthen) encompass the forest. There are numerous roads that lead to Brechfa Forest, and Abergorlech and Brechfa are small villages located next to Brechfa Forest on the B4310 road. Follow the A482 between Lampeter and Llandovery until the turn off for Llansawel (B4302). Once in Llansawel follow signs for Abergorlech.
OS Grid Reference: SN585340
Facilities are limited. There is the drop-off cafe in a double-decker bus at the Raven Trail. Here there are portable toilets. At Abergorlech there are only portable toilets. There is no access to water so you need to take your own. These trials are remarkably quiet and what’s more the parking is free!
I have just come back from a week in the area and have to say it is well worth the visit. If I had to choose which trail to do it would be the Red without hesitation. This route has three major climbs two of which are on fire roads and one up swithback singletrack but the payoff is definitely worth it. The downhill sections are awesome and allow you to turn on the speed and throw the bike around the berms. The whole route takes about 1.45 - 2.00 hrs to complete. This Trail comes into its own when dry giving the confidence to lean into those corners. There are little black sections which are fun to do as well. The Raven Trail (Black) was OK but I was a little non-plussed with it to be honest.