This Issue: Dolgellau, North Wales and Salisbury Whoops, Wiltshire
DOLGELLAU, NORTH WALES
This short, yet fantastic, two-mile lane gives a real sense of remoteness, despite only being a few miles from the North Wales town of Dolgellau. It can be accessed from the fast A470, or as detailed here, from the opposite end. To start with the track is fairly straightforward but it really comes into its own when riding across the open moorland. This is when it turns into a typical high moorland track many of us are familiar with.
The views are simply stunning. That is, if you ride in decent weather, something that I seem to be able to avoid when riding in Wales. It always seems to be raining and blowing a gale, which makes photos a little hard to take. Trust me, the views are great. When you get to the end of the trail, take care when meeting the A470. It is a fast road and if you’re heading to the right, back towards Dolgellau, it’s a tight turn to get back onto the tarmac.
Head through the first of a few gates (this is North Wales, the gate capital of the world!). Keep the house on the right, don’t ride up the drive to the house. At the next junction, turn right. You can go straight on here as well. I didn’t have time but feel free to go exploring if you wish.
Continue through the next gate and head up the graded track. The going is fairly easy and straightforward. There is some grass growing in the middle of the track but if you stick to the graded sections there will be no issues. You are riding between trees with walls on either side.
Another gate – keep going past a barn on the left and into a wooded area. The going is still fairly easy along a well-graded track.
Proceed through the wood. You are now riding along a typical woodland track. There is plenty of tree debris along the track but nothing to bother anyone. At the end of the wood, head through the next gate and you are now on open moorland.
This is my favourite section. The route turns into a typical Welsh moorland track. It’s nice and rocky in places and there is plenty of water in the four-wheel-drive tracks (although this may have been because it was raining hard when I last rode this trail).
Proceed through another gate and you start to feel very remote as you take in the cracking views of the surrounding hills. As you proceed, the track becomes a bit rockier in places. There’s a few puddles and water splashes as you continue.
You now pass a turning to the right (feel free to explore if you wish). Head through another gate and continue riding to the fast A470. Take care when merging with the main road as traffic will be travelling at speed.
SALISBURY WHOOPS, WILTSHIRE
This is a fantastic lane not too far from Salisbury. If you like your whoops (mounds of earth nicely positioned to get air on a bike) then you will love this. It’s a long section of about a mile or so cram-packed with whoop after whoop. In fact, it’s so tightly crammed that you are literally landing and taking straight back off again.
Take care though as many of the landings can be in fairly deep puddles, and you have no way of knowing what rocks may be lurking in your landing zone. At the end of the whoops section, there is a fairly big, knee-to thigh-deep puddle. It’s safe to go through, just stick to the edge if you’re worried. There’s plenty of off-piste activity in this area as bikes and 4x4s take the route around. I say go through.
There are plenty more byways in the surrounding area, the OS maps are just littered with them. As you venture onto Salisbury Plain, make sure you stick to legal routes. The Ministry of Defence is often out looking for offenders. Luckily, the byways on the plain are well signposted.
If you are coming to the trail from the south, then take care as you cross the A303. Cars come down this road very fast. It doesn’t take long to get some speed up on the wide track that consists of gravel and loose stone. Within a minute you are already airborne after hitting the first of many jumps. It really is great fun and as you progress the jumps get larger and more tightly packed together.
In places, you are simply landing before trying to quickly compose yourself ahead of another jump. Many of the tighter jumps have puddle landings. It’s always risky landing in puddles as you have no idea what loose rocks could be lurking below the surface.
At the end of the whoops, there’s a large puddle spanning the width of the trail. It’s obvious many riders have created new paths around, but I’ve never had a problem here. Yes, it’s wide, yes, it’s fairly deep, but it should not trouble any trail rider out there.
Make sure you take the right-hand fork here. It’s fairly easygoing. You leave the whoops behind and follow a well-defined track. There are a fair few puddles but for the most part, it’s easy riding, and none of the puddles are as deep as the one you have just waded through.
The track is wide and you can see into the distance so it’s easy to pick up speed on this section. The surrounding land is all plain and it is fairly flat and boring. No matter how tempting it is to just blast across the open fields, please don’t. Stick to the track.
You now hit a really muddy patch. It was so bad when I passed that there was a temporary road structure leading around the mud bath. This is something I was pleased to see as it looked a real mess, and I would have probably still been there now if I had tried to go through it.
Once you are past the small divert round the muddy section, it is easy going. When I last passed through this area they were filming for a World War Two film called 1917 that’s due out later this year. It looked to be a big production and there were martial’s warning us to take it steady as we passed the film set. Apparently, the set has a capacity for about 500 people so expect to see a lot of traffic on this section if filming is still taking place. Continue to the busy road ahead.
A short tarmac section.
As you leave the tarmac there’s a drainage ditch in the chalk. Take care as you bounce over it. The chalky track ahead can be seen winding into the distance. It’s fairly easy going and you are able to build up some speed. The plain is flat and open all around you. Head for the trees in the distance.
Cross over a trail crossroads. Straight ahead is legal. Come to another fork. Head left, there are tracks going straight on but the majority head left along the legal route. It can be a bit muddy around here.
Continue along until you meet the track you have just looped around. 910 Proceed right and do the whoops again in reverse until you reach the main road.