One of the most common question clients ask is “how did you find all these trails?”.

Following other riders and marking up my map worked well for the more popular routes, but my favourite type of historic roads needed a lot more research. Old maps from charity shops and pouring over google earth gave a vague idea, but often the trails were hard to find on the ground.

Dyfi is steeped in ancient history and legend. Celts, King Arthur and Robert Plant have all trod these hill, pulled by a greater force which still resonates beneath the towering conifers. After a chance encounter with a local expert on the the subject, the penny dropped: these trails tended to follow the Leys.

While finding and following Leys (not “Ley Lines”, please) is fairly simple on foot, it’s not so easy by bike. Undeterred, I thought back to my field engineer days of signal transmission and headed to my workshop.

After several months of trial and error, I created a pair of dowsing rods fitted to custom brackets with just the right damping to prevent wild swinging, yet still allowing the rods to move when triggered. Confident in my design, I headed to the valley of Camlan (near Dinas Mawddwy) for a calibration run in the strongest forces. Yet I felt nothing! This puzzled me, as the Rods worked fine by hand, yet on the bike they were dead.

Feeling somewhat jaded, I stopped for lunch in the wonderful cafe at Camlan Garden Centre to ponder the problem. Again, engineering theory held true - I had failed to tune the rods to take account of the metal bike frame’s Stochastic Resonance. Several long sums later (which would have been much easier if the rods and bike were of the same material... ), I measured carefully and cut the rods to the correct 1/4 wavelength.

After a second flat white to further sharpen the senses, I was off. This time, riding glove free, the rods moved freely and I felt the energy flow as I followed an ancient way through the heart of Camlan. Success!

Since then my map has grown considerably, with more sunken lanes, shaded dells and ancient oaks to enjoy.

And it seems I’m not alone in feeling this connection. The recent growth in gravel bike sales suggests more and more riders are drawn to ancient ways, maybe without realising why? Perhaps you should book a gravel tour and experience the magic yourself...