Recently there has been major investment into MTB in South Wales, which proved to be worth its weight in gold, with many talented riders such as Manon Carpenter, Mike Jones and Taylor Vernon proving themselves on the world stage this year.
The newest of the extensive trail rides in South Wales is the Cafall trail at Cwmcarn, so I took great pleasure in going out for a spin on a drizzly afternoon to see if this trail would live up to the hype.
The old Cwmcarn loop is known for its savage climb straight out the gate, the new loop is no different, it starts in the Car Park by the newly built tarmac pump track and follows the same worn in accent to the toll booth as the old loop. This is where things start to get new and interesting. Rather than following the valley up, the new trail goes straight up the riders’ left hand side of the valley with tight switch backs swaying left and right to get you to the top.
The track is well mapped out with names on the signs before each major accent or decent to keep the Strava warriors happy. The section you reach after the climb is named “The Hideout” where you suddenly find yourself whizzing through the trees in a dark and dense bit of forest. This leads into the first real decent part which makes you wonder ‘how the heck did I manage to fit through that gap?’ It is very tight which makes for a good work out once you are up to speed.
One major feature of this trail, unfortunately, are all the road crossings with pinch-stiles (these are necessary to keep the motorbikes off the trails). On the ascents these do not affect the flow that much, but on the descents you find yourself in good flow and suddenly having to slam on the anchors for yet another road crossing.
From here, the trail starts to get exciting, with the first major decent being called the “Rocky Valley” you know you are in for a treat. The trail continues with its natural bench cut style and flows all the way back to the car park; with high speed sections and plenty of natural lumps to get the pro’s looking for that next gap and feeling like rampage recruits.
Overall, this trail has amazing flow (other than the pinch-stiles) and is ideal for beginners and intermediate riders. Everything is rideable for all abilities due to its natural surface and has no man made features other than a few essential berms to keep you on track. The loop is 14km and has around 750m of climbing, so packs a punch for a short loop. With this in mind, and the fact the trail is easily accessible by road and train, I think it is worth a try!