Altitude Profile (548 ft to 1,558 ft)
Sarn Helen is the name given to a number of Wales’ Roman roads. The roads were built after the conquest of the Welsh tribes to create a network of all-weather routes linking the Romans' forts. "Sarn Helen" is a misnomer meaning Helen's Causeway or Road and refers to Elen, a Romano-British princess and the wife of the emperor of Britain, Maximus. Whilst she is fabled to have got Maximus to build roads across Wales to help defend it, it is considered that Elen is from a much later period than the roads themselves. These roads suggest a route from a fort in Neath in South Wales all the way up to a fort near Conwy in the north. Parts of Sarn Helen (such as this) are off-road and make for interesting MTBing, but much of Sarn Helen is tarmac or obliterated. However, I’m inspired by the idea of a south to north route, split into bite sized chunks, which follows Sarn Helen or haunts its surrounding countrtside and visits the Roman sites along the way. This is a self indulgent nod to my nerdy side!! ;-)
This section is designed as a point to point run and will be best served by being dropped off and picked up at both ends of the route. We start above Banwen near the Roman auxiliary fort of Coelbren and follows Sarn Helen faithfully where it is widely held to run. It incorporates the marching camps at Coelbren and Plas-y-Gors near Ystradfellte. Beyond this the route just visits the course of Sarn Helen in a few places as the original road is only partly on the right of way in a couple of (lengthy) stretches. It gets a bit anal at the start because I've routed it to visit the marching camp at Coelbren, which is a bit inaccessible (you could miss this bit out).
N 51°46.379' W 3°38.332'
N 51°46'22.782" W 3°38'19.960"
N +51.7729951 E -3.63887786
N 51°57.031' W 3°31.504'
N 51°57'01.916" W 3°31'30.267"
N +51.9505324 E -3.52507442
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