Being members of the Rough-Stuff Fellowship brings on responsibilities, like doing a rough stuff ride now and again. I brought out my touring bike and Nick his 'Green Man' Wester Ross rough-stuff bike. It was a cold, frosty, Sunday morning again but the ride was to take us no further than a 10 km radius from our homes in Croesyceiliog and would incorporate some spectacular scenery. Pontypool was soon reached via the cycle track, from here a herd of cows had to ridden through to get on to the rough track that runs along the Cwm Glyn valley. This muddy path is on top of massive landscaped coal tip that stretches 6 km towards Hafodrynys. Coal waste was dumped here for over a hundred years and stopped in the early 1980s when coal mining ceased in this area. The old 19th century winch house was viewed along the way, a relic of a past industrial age. It was hard going in the muck but it was quite enjoyable smashing through the thawing ice-puddles. The forestry access track up toward the top of the valley is a spectacular twisty ascent, pine needles coated our tyres as the ride continued in the shadow of the valley. Eventually, the track was left to head out on to the open mountain of the Mynydd Maen ridge. Pies were then eaten. The Sun now shone on us and the Brecon Beacon Mountains to the north west were to be seen in all their glory. The high-point of the ride was 467 metres as we headed along the ridge back toward Cwmbran. There were spectacular views of the Severn Estuary and the counties of Gloucestershire, Somerset, and Devon. The terrain on this ridge is very similar to the Cambrian Mountains of mid-Wales and the tussock-traversing was a welcome reminder of our trips there! After a dodgy descent down the mountain our homes were less than 15 minutes away, amazing to think all this beautiful scenery is on our doorstep!....18km with 546 metres of ascent.

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