Sunday, 9 May 2010

Mountain Biking on a Brechfa Forest Family Holiday

If you're looking to take the kids on an active UK family holiday in a beautiful setting, why not consider going mountain biking in Brechfa Forest?

Located in the southwest Welsh county of Carmarthenshire, this forest has a history stretching back centuries and was once an important hunting ground for the royal family in the Middle Ages.

More recently, it has become something of a haven for both new and experienced mountain bikers alike thanks to the launch of a host of trails designed by professional mountain bike racer Rowan Sorrell.

For families in particular, the Derwen Trail should prove ideal. It is graded green - meaning that it is an easy route to follow - and is therefore a good place to start when taking the kids on an exciting day out or family holiday in Wales.

The trail runs for 9.2 km along the sides of the valley and includes some gentle climbs - totalling 506 m over the course of the journey - that are countered with fun downhill bits which should be particularly popular with children!

If you want to try something a bit harder, why not consider moving up the scale to a blue-graded trail?

This particular route branches off from the green part of the Derwen Trail and heads up a steep bank before ending in a glorious dash downhill that should make the effort of struggling uphill well worth it.

It measures 4.7 km long and includes 307 m of climbing, so it may be an option for keen cyclists who want to do both the green and blue trail in a single sitting.

If you're a parent looking for something even more challenging, Brechfa Forest is also home to a red trail - meaning difficult - and a black route, which is for experienced cyclists only thanks to its grading of severe.

Of course, if you want to take a break from mountain biking altogether you can explore the forest by foot or on horseback and drink in the stunning scenery at a more leisurely pace.

You can access waymarked walks at Byrgw and Abergorlech, or take advantage of the open access afforded by the forest roads.

If you fancy heading to the inhabited parts of the area, the nearby villages and towns include the likes of Brechfa, Llandovery, Llandeilo, Pumsaint, Llansawel, Rhydcymerau, Abergorlech and Llanybydder.

These locations may also be good places to stay on a longer break as they are easy to travel from when making your way to Brechfa Forest.

Meanwhile, keen mountain bikers can continue their adventure after exhausting what Brechfa Forest has to offer by heading to other parts of Carmarthenshire - which provides some excellent scenery thanks to its unofficial status as the Garden of Wales.

For example, Crychan Forest near Llandovery is a popular destination for cyclists, horse and walkers.

Its mountain biking trails offer great variety for bikers, ranging in length from 2.4 miles to just over eight miles - so both inexperienced and highly skilled cyclists can explore this area with ease.

The Brecon Beacons National Park is also well worth a visit - not just for its mountain biking trails, but for the plethora of other activities you can indulge in at the site, as well as its awe-inspiring natural scenery.

Meanwhile, other must-see attractions to fit into your family holidays to the region include the Carmarthenshire County Museum and its Merlin-related exhibits, as well as Carreg Cennen and Dinefwr castles, the wildlife-related delights of the National Wetland Centre and the Millennium Coastal Park.

You can also indulge in a host of other active pursuits, whether you fancy relaxing with a spot of fishing or a round of golf, or perhaps want to get a major thrill from extreme sports.

Even more activities include panning for gold at Britain's only known Roman gold mine, which is located near Pumpsaint, and trying out the longest toboggan run in Wales at Pembrey Country Park - wonderful for little and big kids alike.

The great thing about Carmarthenshire is the variety of opportunities it offers to holidaying families - whether you're looking for an exciting day out or a longer break that includes many different activities and attractions.

If you are looking for family holidays and specifically UK family activity holidays then consider Wales. Head over to Visit Wales for advice and information on holidays in Wales including family days out and kids day trips.

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