|Meets:||NCN5, NCN54, NCN55, NCN45, NCN44, NCN8, NCN818, NCN820, NCN82|
|Route outline (key)|
NCN Route 81 is a cycle route heading west from the Black Country to Aberystwyth.
Beginning in Smethwick, on NCN5 near Galton Bridge, NCN81 heads along the Birmingham Canal towpath to Wolverhampton. Crossing the city centre on Lichfield and Darlington Streets, the route goes through the NW suburbs, before coming to an end at Codsall.
This end is temporary, and in nearby Cosford, the route starts up again, travelling on the A41 before going via Cosford station, Stanton and Haughton, crossing the M54 east of junction 4. After passing through Priorslee, it follows Watling Street through Oakengates. It turns north to follow a path parallel to the A442 until Trench, where it turns back west to pass through Wellington.
At Ditherington, it enters the Shrewsbury built up area, and travels along the river Severn, crossing Porthill Bridge in the centre, and heading across to the Holyhead Road. At Mountford Bridge it crosses the Severn again, proceeding to roughly follow its course on an assortment of back roads all the way (via Welshpool and Newtown) to Llanidoes, where it meets NCN8.
NCN81 runs concurrent with NCN8 south to Rhayader, however NCN818 cuts the corner off, from Llangurig. Taking the longer, but flatter, way via Elan and the reservoirs, the route heads north west to Cwmystwyth, where the shortcut route via NCN818 rejoins. From there, the route heads along the Ystwyth valley, picking up a disused railway alignment at the junction with NCN82. It crosses the Rheidol near Aberystwyth football ground and ends at the north end of Pont Aberystwyth.