Yeah, I know, it’s been a while. Anyway, I figured my first post on here should be one documenting one of my favourite trips of 2018, our family bikepacking adventure down the Mawddach trail, between Dolgellau and Barmouth. Ok, so it wasn’t an “adventure” as such the way most bikepackers use the word, but little George loved it, and for him it was an adventure!
WeeHoo iGo Turbo Trailer
So, we decided after buying George’s WeeHoo iGo Turbo trailer, that proper bikepacking with the sprog in tow (literally) was now a valid option. The iGo trailer is a cracking piece of kit. Utilising only one wheel, it feels much less “draggy” than the bigger twin wheel “box style” trailers that we’ve used in the past. Plus it has a fully fledged chainset hooked up to a freewheel at the back, so George can pedal along and help with the overall effort, although he does appear to prefer it when he just sits back and relaxes! The trailer also includes a set of mini panniers at the back for all those extra bits and bobs required when looking after a child. It was also the first trip out on Zoe’s new bike, a Marin Wildcat Trail WFG 5, we’d finally got rid of that hideous purple thing that felt like it was built of cast iron! To be fair, the Marin is a really nice piece of kit, running a 1×10 drive-train, some nice RockShox Recon Silver forks and female specific geometry. It also weighs in at about a third of that Emmelle Nightshade abomination.
The Mawddach trail is a mostly paved route that follows an old railway line from the small town of Dolegallau, down the Mawddach estuary to the popular tourist town of Barmouth. You could easily manage this on a gravel bike or even a proper road bike. We picked this particular route for our first family outing, mainly as it’s impossible to get lost, isn’t too long at less than ten miles in total, and has lots of options for food, drink and camping along the way.
We parked up in the centre of Dolgellau and put the bikes and trailer together, strapped all the bags on, then immediately called it lunch! Carb loading, well that was my excuse! We set off just after our lunch had settled and the weather, although warm, was a touch overcast, I was praying it wouldn’t rain. We’d decided that Zoe and George would live in the Vango Ark 200, whilst I’d be slumming it in the Yellowstone Alpine tent, which is decidedly un-waterproof (even after a coat of Fabsil). Fortunately my concerns were unfounded, blue skies emerged and it turned out to be one of the hottest weekends of the year! Result.
Tents at Graig Wen campsite
We decided to camp about 3/4 of the way to Barmouth on the southern slopes of the valley at Graig Wen campsite, which is a cracking little site that we had almost entirely to ourselves, which was surprising given the weather. Just be warned, once you leave the trail and head to the site, you’ve got a very steep hill to push up. The site has coin operated showers, and fridges and freezers available for use by residents. They also hire out small fire pits and there’s a well stocked little tuck shop too.
George on the bridge
To get to Barmouth itself, you have to cross the railway bridge at the mouth of the estuary. This in itself is a wonderful little attraction, that is now, unfortunately under threat of closure due to council funding issues. Once in Barmouth there is plenty to do in the bustling little tourist town, however, because the weather was simply amazing, we spent most of our time playing on the sandy beach. We also decided to jump on a small dinghy which took us across the mouth of the river to a small train station, at which point we got on a “steamy” and headed over to Fairbourne to take a look. A word of warning, in Fairbourne there is absolutely sweet FA to do. But that didn’t bother us, it’s a nice quiet little village and we just sat outside a cafe enjoying drinks and ice cream. Plus, George is obsessed with trains, so we got to watch a few Arriva diesels roll by, which kept him happy.
George and his teddy
We spent a couple of days riding around the area and enjoying the beach. It was a really enjoyable, relaxing trip and I would recommend it to anyone, with or without children. By the time we rolled back in to Dolgellau, I think it’s safe to say, George had caught the bikepacking bug and he was already asking about our next trip while he devoured yet another ice cream.