Anything 4 A Ride MTB Club / Race Team

Graeme Spreadbury
Date of Visit:  14/11/08
Distance:        46Km
Time Taken:   04:10 (inc stops)
We've been to Afan forest a couple of times now, but this was the first time we tackled the Skyline Trail.   After having a look on the net and in a couple of books our impression was that this was gonna be a hard ride, with lots of drop offs, technical sections and very long. How wrong we were.


We arrived late Thursday night and stayed at the campsite in Glyncorrwg Ponds next to the MTB Centre. One thing they don't show in the photos or magazines is that it backs onto some industrial units which were still operating past 11pm. This aside the campsite was functional and had good facilities, the Drop Off Cafe was excellent and they had secured bike storage (which seemed like a good idea because of the amount of signs up from the local PCSO about gear from the campsite being nicked.)


Friday morning we got some breakfast from the cafe next to the MTB Centre then decided to head out onto the trail. The Skyline Trial shares its first climb with the White's Level Trail and is one of the best climbs you'll find at a man made trail centre. It singletrack almost all the way, however it doesn't feel like you've climbed a lot until you look back down into the valley and then you realise
just how far you've come up. There are a couple of easy switchbacks and a rocky section or two then it spits you out onto a fire roads once at the top. Here you have the choice of what trail to take depending on what you want to do. We followed the fire road up for a couple of km to the first section; Heartburn. This was a very quick trail that contoured round the mountain and we both came out of it with smiles on our faces.


So far so good. Couple more kms of fire road, plus a small singletrack section called "Granada" and we arrived at 3 continuous sections of single track, "Short n Sweet" (name speaks for itself) linked into "Riding High" via a short rocky climb, then onto "On the Edge", what edge? This section was good if you kept the speed up, was quite exposed (for a trail centre) and certainly put smiles on our faces.


The next section was the longest section of fire road we've ridden at any trail centre, yawn, it wasn't even particularly fast or loose, just a slog along a boring road. You eventually end up at "Excalibur", now this is a bit more like it. Contouring round the mountain loosing a little height, thus keeping the speed up, this section made the last fire road almost bearable. We're still yet to find a really technical section though or anything that can be called a drop off. 


More fire road then onto "Handy Andy" and " Grand Canyon". These were nice flowy sections that you could hit fast, some hit them a little to fast. I was belting along then came right up against a sharper left hander, which flicked back right and over a bridge. I couldn't scrub off enough speed, but got the front wheel round the corners however the back wheel fell off the trail, which stopped me dead. I had no where to put a foot down, so had to fall off the bridge and into the rocky stream below. I waited there hands out in front stopping myself from falling further
down the hill and waited for Paul to come past, which he did quite literally. He didn't
even see me 8 ft below the trail and I had to shout for him to help me get up. Once
dusted down we got back on it and after more fire road we got to "Fast Forward" and "Joyrider", now after the previous off we took these 2 sections a tad more sedately to begin with but ended up railing them by the end.


Back up to speed we went along the last bit of fire road and then on the last decent "Deadwood" and "Peregrine Ridge" that was described as a "nerve-tingling, rocky, 6km of singletrack descent". Rocky? Yes a bit. 6km single track descent? Yes. Nerve-tingling? Not really. This last section was good, fast flowing, with a few rocks that you could jump off (drop offs I guess) etc, however it didn't make up for the rest of the trail that ultimately left us disappointed. I guess this trail is good for beginners who wish to try and tackle a long epic. Having ridden both the White's Trial and The Wall before, I guess the new W2 trail that links these 2 would be a better bet if it’s a long ride in Afan that you’re after.
That night we decided to walk into town to see if there was a pub, we couldn't find one, so got some beers and went back to camp. We dropped in at the Drop Off cafe before we thought it shut and found it was open to 10, excellent. A few beers (inc some huge 1.5L bottles of flip top Grolsch) and watching the game of rugby on the TV made for a good night.
Overall we were left a little dissapointed with the Skyline Trail, although we wouldn't rule out doing it again.
  • Not that technical, but great for beginners looking for longer trails 
  • Overated
  • Loads of fireroad