Distance 412 km
Elevation gain: 10,800 metres
NW400 route link: GPX
NW300 route link: GPX
Link to photos
The NW400 is a bikepacking route around North Wales, designed by Tom Bruce as a training route for the Highland Trail 550. It is a difficult route, with over 10,000 metres of climbing in just over 410 km. The route is designed to start and finish in Mold, Flintshire, which is very accessible but it can be started and finished at any point on the loop. The loop is to be ridden anticlockwise.
The NW300 has over 7,000 metres of clumbing in just under 300 km and follows much of the same route as the NW400, also ridden anticlockwise. The purpose of suggesting this shorter route is so that it can be completed within the bank holiday weekend for those who do not feel they can complete the 400km within the time limit and to make the event more accessible - that being said, it is still a brutal route and should not be taken lightly.
The intent is to ride either route as fast as you are able while adhering to the set of rules listed below. You are expected to navigate the unmarked course entirely on your own. There are no waymarkers or checkpoints on the course, only a downloadable gpx file. Map navigation is not part of the challenge, so for efficiency and safety a GPS unit is recommended.
It is an unofficial challenge that is not sanctioned in any way, with no organisation, and no support. All this website provides is the route, the rules, a suggested start time, and a list of riders who have completed the challenge. A maximum time limit (for both the NW400 and NW 300) is set at 72 hours for your ride to be included in the register of successful completions below (although this time limit should not discourage you from entering the event as more leisurely route attempts are encouraged!).
Highlights of this stunning route include:
The Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB
Many of the most beautiful lakes in Wales
Trails through the UNESCO World Heritage Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales
Snowdonia, including an ascent of Snowdon
The Snowdonia coast between Cricceith and Porthmadog
5 world class mountain biking trail centres on the NW400 at: Penmachno, Gwydir Mawr, Coed y Brenin, Dyfi Forest, Llandegla
Bwlch y Groes, the second highest road pass in Wales (NW400)
The Berwyn Range
The route takes you over some very challenging terrain including an ascent to the top of Snowdon, at an altitude of over 1,000 metres, which can provide a very challenging climate. There are hike-a-bike sections and some technical descents, so the use of a mountain bike is recommended. If taking on the NW400, please take some cash to put into the honesty box at penmachno trail centre as you pass - it helps funds trail maintenance.
Complete the entire route, under your own power - no drafting
Be completely self-supported throughout the ride - absolutely no support crews, absolutely no gear sharing
Only use commercial services that are available to all challengers - no private resupply, no private lodging
If you have to leave the route, you must rejoin it at the exactly same spot
No caches of any kind
No third-party sag-wagon offering an easy bail-out option
No pre-arranged support, which means before you begin your ride - e.g. booking a B&B
No travel by any motorized means during your ride - by all means do so if necessary, but understand if you do your attempt is over
Gear - nothing required, nothing prohibited
The Snowdon Voluntary Cycling Agreement must be adhered to, so plan your attempt accordingly: https://www.cyclingnorthwales.co.uk/pages/snowdn_volunt.htm. If you arrive at Llanberis at the wrong time to attempt Snowdon and don't wish to wait for an allowed time of day, you could divert via the telegraph valley route to continue your ride, however your attempt will not be counted as a completion
The Llandegla forest trails should be ridden only during trail centre opening hours unless by pre-arrangement with One Planet Adventure (https://oneplanetadventure.com/). An alternative route from the Offa’s Dyke bridleway on Ruabon Moor, to the far side of Nercwys Forest is available here if you arrive at Llandegla forest when the trail centre is closed (your attempt will still be valid should you take this alternative route).
While riding any of the trail centre routes, temporary closures or diversions may be in place. Please follow these diversions and rejoin the official route at the first opportunity, your attempt will be valid. Please email tom (email@example.com) with any news of diversions on the route.
Tom Bruce: 49 hours, 58 minutes, 40 seconds