Coed y Brenin is one of Snowdonia’s most popular outdoor pursuits centres. With world-class mountain biking trails, picturesque walking routes and exciting treetop adventures, a visit to Coed y Brenin is a great way to keep the whole family active.
Eight miles north of Dolgellau, the beautiful old market town in southern Snowdonia, is Coed y Brenin, Forestry Commission Wales’ premier visitor centre. Coed y Brenin is one of the best places to go in Snowdonia if you want to experience exhilarating mountain biking and a range of walking trails that are suitable for a variety of levels of experience, energy and ability.
Coed y Brenin is renowned as the first purpose-built mountain bike centre in Britain, and remains a leading force in the development of cross country mountain biking. Open seven days a week, the visitor centre provides a range of excellent amenities including a cafe, rest rooms and baby changing facilities, as well as a shop and a manned information point. With all the essential facilities you’d expect from a centre of Coed y Brenin’s calibre, you perhaps won’t be surprised to learn that the centre’s facilities also include showers and a bike wash, so you won’t have to take any of Snowdonia’s mud back home with you!
Even if you’re visiting without your own bike, you can still enjoy a great day out at Coed y Brenin – either on foot, or by hiring a bike from the on-site hire shop, Beics Brenin, where adaptive mountain bikes are also available to hire for disabled riders. The Challenge Your Boundaries initiative, created by local community groups, provides an authentic mountain bike experience for disabled riders, with qualified leaders providing personalised tuition and guiding facilities as part of the initiative; visit the Challenge Your Boundaries page on the Discover Dolgellau website to find out more.
Once you’re out there in the forest park you’ll be able to choose from eight waymarked trails, which include a blue grade trail that’s ideal for children, novices, families and adaptive mountain bikes – so the whole family can have some fun, whatever their level of experience. For riders with a bit more experience and those looking for a more challenging ride there are six red and black grade trails, with intriguing names like the Beast of Brenin and the Dragon’s Back; these should give you an idea of how exciting these trails can be! All trails can be downloaded for free from the Coed y Brenin website, so you can decide before you visit which routes are right for you and your companions. Or if you’d like to try something a little more hi-tech, there are free downloadable MP3 audio trails available, which provide a ‘virtual ranger’ tour experience to help you learn about the local heritage and wildlife while you explore Coed y Brenin.
But it’s not all about biking, when you visit Coed y Brenin. The children’s adventure playground is always a popular choice for families, giving younger visitors an opportunity to enjoy an active day out that’s lots of fun. The Go-Ape high wire course, where visitors can enjoy a bird’s eye view of Coed y Brenin by zipping through the treetops, is always popular; especially with little monkeys! There’s also an animal puzzle trail, which makes learning fun, and you can even try treasure hunting on a special geocaching trail, using a handheld GPS device – now there’s a day out with a difference!
The waymarked running trails and orienteering courses are also very popular at Coed y Brenin, and walking is of course an activity that the whole family can enjoy. There are walking trails that are suitable for gentle strolls and provide excellent wheelchair and pushchair access, but at the other end of the scale there are more rugged routes taking visitors past some of the area’s most stunning scenery and natural features, like the Afon Mawddach waterfalls and enormous Douglas fir trees.
How to get there
If you’re close enough to Coed y Brenin to travel by bike, then that’s the greenest option. From Dolgellau the SUSTRANS Route 82 joins a quiet B-road, taking you right to the visitor centre.
If you’re travelling by bus, the 35 from Dolgellau/Blaenau Ffestiniog stops in the Coed y Brenin visitor centre car park.
By road, take the A470 and follow the brown signs.