The Brecon to Cardiff Ultra passes through Talybont-on-Usk and alongside Talybont Reservoir. I knew the section alongside the reservoir was a long 5 mile ascent so was keen to test out what it was like.
There were a couple of options of how to attack the route – either park on the dam at the end of the reservoir and run up the long gradual ascent to the highest point then back down (and up at times) to the dam or park at the highest point and finish with the long ascent. I didn’t fancy finishing the run out of breath so opted to park on the dam.
The trail is part of the Beacon’s Way, Taff Trail and the 8 National Cycle Route. It’s a wide forestry trail so is good terrain to run on and it appeared as though the vast majority of it would be free from mud and water at most times.
It climbs gradually from the dam, for the most part never being steep enough that you have to slow down too much. I maintained a fairly steady and consistent pace for around 4 and a half miles. Along the way there are breaks in the trees which offer views of where you are heading and the valley back to the dam. Enjoying the run too much I resisted the urge to stop and take photos – I was focused on getting to the top. The last half mile becomes noticeably steeper and a little muddier and due to the weather, bleaker, but knowing that you are almost there you persevere and power on to the top.
At the top the route then heads down the very steep, quad-busting hill back towards the reservoir. Fortunately due to the weather I didn’t encounter any vehicles and only a single cyclist but on busier days you may have to be more cautious.
At the base of the road a forestry track leads off to the left into Talybont Forest where it would head up and into forest and then back down alongside the main road. This section reaches almost the same height as the highest point but it’s a lot steeper so at times requires some power hiking. The descent down to the road is rewarding and allows you to get some speed before hitting the tarmac for the final stretch back to the dam.
As you descend you reflect on the route and the clockwise route is clearly the better option. Were you to do the route anti-clockwise you’d be faced with the very steep road climb to the highest point, although a I’m sure a 5 mile descent is something to experience.
Route Map and Profile