To focus on Britain's steepest climb up below the castle at Harlech is to sell short this most beautiful of rides.
Starting in Dolgellau and following the route anti clockwise is the recommended direction of travel. Breakfast at Roberts in the square, bar none, as I'm sure is mentioned elsewhere, this is the finest coffee shop we have yet found - the cake portions would be too large for the average jersey pocket, and the Welsh Rarebit (vegetarian) is a colossus in culinary culture. If you still fancy a ride, other than just back to the car, head east out of Dolgellau on the A494, and turn left into the hills towards Llanfachreth, where there is a turning to Brithdir on the right.
These are not the huge mountain roads of Europe, but the quiet Welsh lanes and open mountain scenery, beware the sheep and cattle grids. Towards the northern end of the ride the route rejoins the A470 to Trawsfynydd, following the road past the power station. At the bottom of the descent the road splits right to Porthmadog, and left to Barmouth.
The estuary road affords views of Snowdonia and Portmeirion, swinging south towards Harlech, clearly marked by the castle, a World Heritage Site. Turn right towards the coast on the A496. On reaching Barmouth the road crosses the railway in the shadow of the castle. To the left is sign post an industrial area. To take in the 40% climb follow this road and turn first right. This is Fford Pen Llech the steepest road in the UK, although unfortunately a one way road down the hill. To avoid this continue on the bottom road which skirts the town centre.
The road follows the coast and rolls into Barmouth at the mouth of the Mwaddach Estuary - turning home towards Dolgellau. For Ruskin this was the most beautiful walk to be found anywhere, judge for yourself.