The Raven Trail at Brechfa, South Wales is a trail designed by Rowan Sorrell and Brian Rumble, graded black for good reason, it is a trail that will both delight and challenge you in roughly equal measures. Let’s look at the numbers:
Time:1.5 – 2hr
The climbing kind of gives it away, with nearby Afan Forest Park offering 400m of climbing, Raven almost doubles the climbing and we all know climbing equals descending and descending equals fun!
The trail itself starts at the visitor car park at Byrgwm, just outside the village of Brechfa in South Wales. The area is quite remote and around 50 mins to an hour drive from Afan. The signage to get to the trail is a little vague, there is no postcode so sat-nav users punch in ‘Brechfa” and head for the village. Brechfa itself is a bit of a one horse town, just pass on through on the “main” road and keep going, you will see the car park on the left about 5 minutes outside the village.
Facilities wise it is a bit basic – two porta loos and that is about it, don’t expect showers or something to eat. In previous years there was a double decker bus that was something to do with the Drop of Cafe at Afan that would serve awesome sandwiches and fry ups but at the time of writing (April 2011) it had mysteriously disappeared.
Anyway, what of the riding? The riding is ace! One of the best trails I have ridden, it really flows and feels natural amongst the moss covered primeval feeling forest. It can get muddy in places and when it is wet it can be slippy, especially on some of the sharp descents, but that just adds to the fun.
Your skills will be thoroughly tested as the trail has a bit of everything; technical climbs and descents, fast, flowing singletrack amongst pine forests, berms, jumps, table tops. If you have ridden other trail centres there is nothing too difficult, you just need to let the trail roll, don’t try and attack it first time out and you should be fine. If you are planning a first trip to Wales having become “king” of your local trails you may come unstuck on The Raven and be better to try something a little easier first.
As with other trails in Wales the signage is excellent with maps available to download on line and clear signage throughout the route, makes navigation easy. As with any trip to the mountains you need to make sure you are prepared – the weather can change very quickly and with a patchy phone signal if something goes wrong you are pretty much on your own. Of course if you badly hurt yourself someone will come and rescue you, just don’t expect a 5 minute response. Basic first aid stuff is a good idea as well as a good supply of basic spares to get you out of trouble, plenty of fluids and energy bars and you should be fine.
Brechfa is a little bit off the beaten track, but well worth the effort of getting there, facilities are basic, but that is more than made up by the excellent riding, don’t forget to try the Gorlech trail while you are there, personally I have bad memories of Gorlech having broken my foot in three places whilst riding it, but it is a great trail that has a spectacular descent at the end as my foot found out!
Here at Duffbag, we visit the trail centres in Wales regularly, this is what our products were designed for duffbag kit bag for transporting dirty kit post ride and duffbag bike bags for transporting dirty bikes to and from the trails. If you see us in the duffbus at any of the centres come over and say hi, we usually have a stash of free tee shirts and stuff, see if you can score a freebie from us!!