The most popular mountain bike trail in Coed-y-Brenin Forest Park now offers even more thrills for the centre’s thousands of visitors after a third loop was opened on the MinorTaur trail.
More than 30,000 rides have taken place on the MinorTaur since the first loop was opened in June 2010, quickly establishing it as a firm favourite among visitors to the iconic Welsh Government woodland in the Snowdonia national park.
The MinorTaur is unique in that it can be ridden by disabled people, with the width of the trail, the radius of the turns, the low gradient and technical features being suitable for adaptive mountain bikes.
The project forms part of the Gwynedd Council-led Eryri Centre of Excellence partnership, which is part funded by the by the EU’s Convergence European Regional Development Fund through Visit Wales and the Welsh Government.
Additional funding towards the project comes from Forestry Commission Wales, Gwynedd Council, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and Tourism Partnership Mid Wales.
The new, third loop
called Buwch Bren (Wooden Cow)
has longer, sustained climbs, more technical features including hips and a series of climbing turns, all with a narrower width designed to improve single track cross-country riding skills.
The addition of Buwch Bren extends the MinorTaur’s range to nine kilometres and its modular design means riders can tackle one loop (three kilometres), two loops (five kilometres) or the full distance.
Forestry Commission Wales mountain bike ranger Andy Braund said, “This will be it for now, but we hope to add another loop to extend the trail to around 12 kilometres, dependent on securing further funding.
“The MinorTaur has quickly become the most popular trail at Coed y Brenin. It's a great fun introduction to mountain biking for a wide range of ages and abilities and is unique in that it can be enjoyed by riders with a disability, using adaptive mountain bikes.
“It's also working well as a great starting point for learning new off-road riding skills and gaining confidence before moving on to the more difficult trails like Cyflym Coch.”
The third loop of the blue (moderate) grade MinorTaur includes an upgraded two-way multi-use crossing of the beautiful Mawddach gorge over the aerial bridge called Offspring.
The trail approaches at either end of the bridge have been widened, the gradient reduced and some wider passing places installed to allow passage of the wider three and four wheel adaptive bikes, as well as pedestrians.
“We’re also planning to build a new skills area, reflecting all the grades of the existing trails out in the forest,” said Andy.
“This will include blue sections just like the MinorTaur where Challenge your Boundaries, who provide various types of adaptive bike for hire and run courses for people with disability, will be able to assess clients and allow them to have a go at blue grade features before tackling the Minortaur.”
Coed y Brenin is acknowledged as the original and still one of the best mountain bike centres in Britain, and the MinorTaur was conceived to make the forest accessible to all abilities.
Andy said, “Due to its terrain and rocky nature, Coed y Brenin has always had quite a hardcore image. We have plenty of red and black grade trails but more and more beginners and intermediate riders were asking what trails would be suitable for them, but we didn't have any to offer.
“So we decided to try to build a trail not only for able-bodied people but also for those with a disability. We gave trail designer Arran Cartwright a brief to deliver a trail that was achievable but still challenging, where you can learn new off-road riding skills and increase confidence.”