These are some of the shorter routes you can take from the bunkhouse in Govilon. It is impossible to avoid hills in this area, but the cycle path to Brynmawr provides an easy, steady climb up to one of the highest points and all these routes start by going up this track. Some of the descents are very steep so make sure your brakes are working well! The climbs will be a lot harder if you do the routes in reverse.
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The climb to Brynmawr (blue)
This follows the old railway track from Abergavenny up to Brynmawr at a steady gradient suitable for trains! The surface is mostly tarmac, except for a short section (< 1km) where it is grass and gravel. It is all easily manageable on a road bike. There is one section in the middle where the land owner refused permission to use the track and the route diverts onto the roads for about 1km, ending with a very steep climb back up to the track.
The new main road up the Clydach Gorge has only just been completed and the track was re-routed while the work was taking place. I’m not exactly sure where the end of the track joins the road so I have put my best estimate. I think there is a zig-zag path directly down to the Brynmawr roundabout, but some maps show a path joining the end of Darren Felin Road. It should be obvious when you get there!
Llangattock and Gilwern (red)
These take you across the Jack Williams bridge to the opposite side of the gorge, where you follow the high road around the edge of the escarpment. The views from here are really good. There are two routes down, the shorter one via Llanelly to Gilwern, and the longer one going on to Llangattock. The first part of the descent to Llangattock is very steep.
There are two possible return paths, one following the canal towpath and one following the main road. The towpath has tarmac in parts but is not all smooth, and may be hard work on a road bike. The main road has a better surface, but it is narrow and there is quite a lot of traffic.
From Brynmawr you can follow the road to Blaenafon. This takes you across open moorland to the small mining town of Blaenavon (you can see the wheels of the winding gear across the valley). From there it is a steep climb up to the top, then a 3km long descent back down to Govilon. Check your brakes!
There is a cycle track alternative at the start of this route (shown in grey) which may be better than the main road. There are also cycle paths shown on the map further on, south of the road, but the surface of these is poor and only suitable for mountain bikes.
An alternative route down (shown in pink) turns left at Keeper’s Pond, near the summit, and follows the road above Clydach through a very quiet rural lane. This comes out above the steep edge of the escarpment and gives a wilder feel to the route.
Over Mynydd Llangattock (dark red)
This is the longest of the routes, taking you over the empty moorland of Mynydd Llangattock, until you reach the edge at Cefn Onneu, where a spectacular view of the Black Mountains opens up. From there you drop down, then take a tight bend to the right to turn back east for the long downhill run to Llangattock, which starts gently and gets gradually steeper. This is one of the longest and most enjoyable descents in the area. Return to Govilon as for the red route to Llangattock.
These are some of my favourite routes in the area, but you can find other routes on the cycle.travel website.