The Devils Staircase

1 Aug

Day 2 of our ride from our campsite a few miles outside Hay on Wye to Builth along Route 8 before heading west on Route 43 from Builth Wells.

We left the Newcourt Farm campsite which was a great site just off Route 8 and headed through Glasbury and up to Builth Wells.  Its a ride I have done in the past and its a pleasant route cycling along the River Wye.  There are some nice villages along the way and the road to Builth is interesting although you can’t see much of the river through the trees.

Campsite on NCN 8

Curtis on Route 8 at the junction for Newcourt Farm campsite

Heading through Glasbury we crossed the river Wye.  I love to canoe down this river and as we crossed the bridge they were launching some canoes.  A couple of years ago I paddled to Hereford over 3 days from this spot, it was a great trip with some nice pubs and a great orchard campsite along the way.


Canoe hire on the river Wye

The road to Builth Wells is quiet with a few bridges and now and then you get glimpses of the river running below it, its a pleasant road with a mostly flat gradient.


Route 8 to Builth Wells

We arrived in Builth just before 12 and decided to get some lunch although we ended up getting the all day breakfast.  It was a nice cafe at the beginning of the high street in town, it was a good opportunity to check the map and they kindly let us charge our phones.

Breakfast at Cafe Fontana

Breakfast at Cafe Fontana

As we left the Cafe it started to rain but before we left town I couldn’t resist getting my photo taken on the Bull; it was a tough job to get on the thing, its massive and in the wet I struggled to get any grip but one thing I’m sure about is that its lighter than my Surly Troll!

Bull in Builth

Riding the Bull in Builth

Heading out of Builth we took Route 43 which goes all the way to Llantwrtyd Wells, its reasonably well marked except for a missing sign at Llangammarch which meant we ended up travelling quite a few miles out of our way to Beulah.  From there we followed the A road and it didn’t take long to reach Llantwrtyd Wells with a brief stop along the way to have my photo taken with yet another roadside animal.

Llanwrtyd Wells Bear

In the town we stocked up on supplies at the Spar and we then visited the tea rooms in town where we sat outside and had a coffee and a scone.  Curtis dissapeared in the Spar for quite sometime and he emerged with less than I expected; although he made some good choices.  Together we set off again but this time with slightly heavier panniers carrying a couple of beers, cheese, cooked sausage and an extra 2 litres of water.

The road out of the town had some small climbs but nothing too major and eventually the view opened out over a beautiful valley with the road cut into the hillside.


The road not far from Llanwrtyd Wells

Road to the Devils Staircase

Road to the Devils Staircase

The road took us along the valley and to the base of the hill we had heard all about; the Devils Staircase.  At the base of the hill was a sign warning that a 25% gradient lay ahead and behind that was a sign warning that there were switch backs for the next half a mile.

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At the bottom of the hill there is a slight bend and some trees obscuring the climb to come.


Devils Staircase Animated small

The road up to Llyn Brianne has a 25% gradient, getting up there was a bit of a challenge with the bike fully loaded!

Once on the top there was a great view looking back on the valley we had just travelled through.


Ortlieb Map Case

The map in the Ortlieb map case of the ride we were undertaking

Llyn Brianne Devils Staircase

At the top of the Devils Staircase there was a great descent down to the reservoir.

Llyn Brianne Reservoir by Bike

Llyn Brianne Reservoir by Bike

Surly Troll and Dawes Galaxy

By this point we were soaked but the views and the road were epic.


Thats Curtis going down the road on the other side of the valley. The road followed the edge of the reservoir and the route took us by surprise with a few unexpected hills.


The Dam wall



The spillway alongside the dam wall is apparently popular with Kayaks, it was dry on the day we were there and looked like it would be great fun on a skateboard.

The ride along the reservoir was amazing, there was a steady drizzle by the time we got to the top of the Devils Staircase but it added to the atmosphere of the place.  We followed the road into the village of Rhandirmwyn where we stayed at the Camping and Caravanning campsite.  They had good facilities and hot showers which was good as I was wet and cold but it was a great day of cycling.

If you want to read more on this ride check out Curtis’s blog, there are some great photos and a map of the route:


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