Mountain biking is a growing sport in Pembrokeshire where there are several trails, some of them challenging, others making for easy riding.
The 16-mile Canaston Trail takes the rider from the quaint little market town of Narberth, which in recent years has carved a special niche for itself as a unique boutique town of specialised gift shops, restaurants and art galleries.
The bikers meet at the Townsmoor carpark and head west down steep Carding Mill Lane to the largest ancient woodland in Pembrokeshire, 500-acre Canaston Wood, where the A40 trunk road crosses the Eastern Cleddau river at Canaston Bridge.
The route’s popularity has led to improved track surface and drainage in the lower boggy areas, which are now usable all year round and visitors have described it as an exhilarating ride with plenty of ups and downs, steep hills and a few water splashes.
It is currently being advertised by Mountain Bikes Pembrokeshire as an ideal ride for families with children celebrating birthdays or for hen or stag parties. Pre-ride instruction includes an introduction to the finer points of mountain bike control such as front wheel lift, power front wheel lift, rear wheel lift, parallel wheel lift and the rather more difficult bunny hop, all of which are designed to improve effective control.
For those who want to enjoy an elevated ride with all the views that go with it, the 14 mile Preseli Trail is an excellent option. It takes the rider on some lung-busting climbs up to the summit of the Preseli Hills at Foelcwmcerwyn (1,760-feet) - that’s a third of a mile - and the views from the top are stunning. Its a ride through prehistory, for the bikers pass close to ancient burial mounds, standing stones and hut circles.
Not far away is the Newport Trail which starts in that picturesque seaside town and follows a route past the prehistoric burial chamber or Cromlech at Pentre Ifan.
Also in North Pembrokeshire is the 7.5-mile long trail around the Llysyfran reservoir, with its imposing 110-foot high dam holding back millions of tons of water to form a lake providing facilities for fishing, sailing and boating. This is the Llysyfran Reservoir and Country Park owned by Dwr Cymru (Welsh Water) who provide the necessary facilities for mountain bike rides: the bicycles, the headgear and a track with challenging steeps, beautiful scenery and rich willdlife.
There is more history along the 14-mile Last Invasion Trail at Fishguard, which visits the site of the last invasion of Britain by French mercenaries in 1797. A commemorative stone on the clifftop at Carreg Wastad, near Strumble Head, marks the spot where the abortive attack began and the riders see some of the homes which fell victim to the drunken ravages of the indisciplined raiders.
The Brunel Trail, a 14-mile circuit along the Sus-Trans track between Haverfordwest and Neyland Marina, has the luxury of a tarmacadam surface following Brunel’s South Wales railway track.