Let's be honest, guidebooks can often be a bit on the dull side – functional rather than inspiring. The Lost Lanes series from Wild Things Publishing is trying to change that a little, and Lost Lanes Wales manages to combine fun themes for rides, good destinations and photography that will really make you want to pack your bike onto the car rack and go.
The book contains 36 rides, all scattered across Wales and the borderlands of Herefordshire and Shropshire. There's a handy map at the beginning so you can establish which rides are where, relative to each other, which is useful if you're planning to base yourself centrally and do a few.
Most of the routes are around 40km to 60km in distance, although some are longer (and shorter) and they are designed to be rideable on any type of bike. It's important to note that this is a guidebook aimed at anyone who fancies a nice scenic ride, not a particular type or genre of cyclist.
There are themed sections to help with route selection, such as 'best for wild camping', 'best for families' or 'best for pubs' – and good local pubs and cafes are always given a mention at the end of each route as well.
While there is a line map for each route and an evocative rather than turn-by-turn description, the book isn't designed to be carried along in a pannier or bar bag. It comes with downloadable files for GPS for all the routes, and also a website where detailed maps can be downloaded and printed out individually.
I found it a very inspiring and fun book, with plenty of ideas for good rides, but it only really works if you're staying in the area anyway or fancy a tour of Wales by car (or train since most of the start/finish points are deliberately accessible by train) with your bikes, as routes are all circular and can't easily be linked together to form any sensible sort of tour in their own right. As such, it's slightly limited in genuine usefulness but will appeal to those who either live in or near Wales, or are contemplating holidaying there.
Fun and inspiring but best for dipping into now and then rather than as a practical guide for a Welsh epic
road.cc test report
Make and model: Lost Lanes Wales by Jack Thurston
Size tested: Paperback
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Aimed at anyone who enjoys riding a bike and wants inspiration for where to ride in Wales and the borders.
Wild Things Publishing says: "This beautiful full colour book contains 36 specially selected rides, including the best for:
* Weekends Away and Wild Camping
* Gourmets and Pubs
* Ups and Downs and Natural Wonders
* History, Arts and Culture
* Wild Swimming
Each route is graded from easy to challenging, and includes the best pubs, wild swims, tea stops and stunning viewpoints – as well as overnight stops, from B&Bs to camping under the stars. With detailed mapping and route overviews, and links to downloadable GPX files and OS maps. Lost Lanes Wales is a sequel to the best-selling Lost Lanes Southern England."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Themed route guide
Map of all routes
Individual route maps
Downloadable routes for GPS
Webs links for detailed maps that can be printed
Information on cafes and pubs nearby
Routes in Wales, Herefordshire and Shropshire
A beautiful looking book, well put together and with high quality images.
Each route is nicely thought out and informative, but because the routes are scattered throughout the whole of Wales, Herefordshire and Shropshire and are each circular, there is limited capacity for stringing any together.
It's an attractive and interesting book which is great to dip into for ideas, but lacking in real practical usefulness as a whole unless you live in or near Wales or wish to spend a protracted period there.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Design, imagery, themed rides, accessibility.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Lack of ability to string more than one ride together into a tour, scattered nature of rides.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Possibly as a gift.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Maybe - especially if they live in Wales.
Use this box to explain your score
A quirky and pretty book with some nice ideas and touches.
About the tester
I usually ride: Boardman Hybrid Fi My best bike is: Specialized Ruby Elite
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.