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The Elan Valley #1 / 4½ days / 67 miles (108km)

OS Route Map → Map GPX Route file →

Date: 26 Sep 2002
Start / Finish: Rhayader. Car park, toilets 967678.
Maps: Explorer 200 Elan Valley and Explorer 187 Llandovery.

Day 1Rhayader & Bwlch Coch2.8 miles / 780 feet (4.5km / 237m)
Day 2Y Gamriw, Gorllwyn & Drygarn Fawr10.4 miles / 1900 feet (16.7km / 579m)
Day 3The Gwesyn, The Twyi & The Doethie17.5 miles / 800 feet (28.2km / 243m)
Day 4Camddwr, Garn Goch & Cwm Teifi16.7 miles / 2380 feet (26.9km / 725m)
Day 5The Teifi Pools & Claerwen Reservoir19 miles / 1160 feet (30.6km / 353m)

This was one of our favourite backpacks, taking us through some of the most secluded wild country in mid Wales. We saw only one other walker on the whole trip.

Day 1 - Rhayader & Bwlch Coch

Arriving in Rhayader in late afternoon gave us just enough time to gain high ground and pitch. The waymarked Wye Valley Walk (WVW) heads SSW to a suspension bridge over the river and climbs to a track junction at 960648, where we walked W towards Bwlch Coch. This gave us a head start for the next day of ridge walking where the first section was unknown and possibly arduous terrain. In the event it turned out to be easy.

Day 2 - Y Gamriw, Gorllwyn & Drygarn Fawr

Returning to the WVW it descends to a lane where we turned R and took the bridleway track L that winds uphill to the ridge and peters out at 964634. A short climb through bracken leads to an easy grassy ridge that ascends gently to the trig point on Y Gamriw, accompanied by a windshelter complete with doorway and lintel. We walked W then SW to the remote Llyn y Ferlen and climbed gently to Gorllwyn. The next section was familiar from our previous visit to this area and the going gets a little rougher. Picking our way SW then NW we continued on easier ground to Carreg yr Ast and Drygarn Fawr where we pitched early and relaxed.

Cairn on Graig Ddu
Cairn on Graig Ddu (27 Sep 2002__08:48:20)
Y Gamriw trig point
Y Gamriw trig point (27 Sep 2002__09:49:40)
Gorllwyn bog
Gorllwyn bog (27 Sep 2002__11:07:07)
Y Gamriw from approach to Gorllwyn
Y Gamriw from approach to Gorllwyn (27 Sep 2002__11:45:42)
Drygarn Fawr from Gorllwyn
Drygarn Fawr from Gorllwyn (27 Sep 2002__12:03:43)
Cairns on Drygarn Fawr
Cairns on Drygarn Fawr (27 Sep 2002__15:31:13)

Day 3 - The Gwesyn, The Twyi & The Doethie

Descending S to the head of the Afon Gwesyn a good path develops down the E side of the river with its delightful tumbling waterfalls and rocky outcrops. A farm track is reached which ascends a little to Trysgol, drops R to the trees and leads out to the minor road. Turning R a short way there is a public toilet with hot water and litter bin standing by a solitary building.

Cwm Gwesyn
Cwm Gwesyn (28 Sep 2002__08:44:26)
Gwesyn waterfalls
Gwesyn waterfalls (28 Sep 2002__08:53:25)
Gwesyn waterfalls
Gwesyn waterfalls (28 Sep 2002__09:03:05)

Continuing on the road to 849518 a bridleway leads off R which heads SW along the R side of the valley to the minor road above Llyn Brianne. This undulates SW above the reservoir arriving first at the dam (public toilets marked on the map but we didn't check them out) and then the car park (788470) at the entrance to the RSPB reserve of Dinas, the conical hill ahead. The reserve building was closed but from the car park we took the path through the wood to the beautiful Tywi river which it follows round the base of Dinas then diverges E back to the road. Walking W on the road we crossed the river to Gallt y Bere and took the lane which flanks the Afon Doethie to Troed-rhiw-ruddwen 772479. From here a good path heads up the wild Doethie valley and we collected very good water at a side stream on the R, of which there are several. The valley sides are steep but we found a good flat pitch spot in a loop of the river.

Llyn Brianne
Llyn Brianne (28 Sep 2002__13:57:10)
Head of the Twyi valley
Head of the Twyi valley (28 Sep 2002__14:31:43)
Doethie valley
Doethie valley (28 Sep 2002__17:37:38)
Pitch in the Doethie valley
Pitch in the Doethie valley (28 Sep 2002__18:15:46)

Day 4 - Camddwr, Garn Goch & Cwm Teifi

Continuing up the valley we followed the obvious path which descends a little to the river but the map shows the bridleway ascending through the trees. After some head scratching we found our way to the correct line NE steeply up the R side of the Nant Lluest-fach, which gave good views back down the valley. The path becomes a track that later descends to Soar y Mynydd along the top of an embankment (the line on the map goes beneath the embankment and is basically an enclosed bog). From here a pleasant minor road meanders NNW along the Camddwr valley to 762576 and a waterfall.

Pen y Gurnos
Pen y Gurnos (29 Sep 2002__07:56:22)
The Camddwr from the road
The Camddwr from the road (29 Sep 2002__09:34:03)

A bridleway track sets off to Nantymaen farm and leads NW then N to Garn Gron where the trig point and large cairn lie to the L. The track gives up at this point and we descended N to the forest edge to locate the entrance point of the bridleway at 741628. This leads N without problems until the R turn just before Talwrn at 744648, where the line E did not fit the map. However it was fairly easy to locate an access track that led to the minor road, where we turned L to Strata Florida. The public toilets marked here are not quite public, they are accessed by key obtained when you pay the entrance fee to the Abbey ruins. The lane E is the start of the Teifi Pools Walk marked on the map which we followed to Llyn Teifi, collecting water at a stream in the cwm part way up. Flat grassy ground made a good pitch just below the lake .

Garn Gron
Garn Gron (29 Sep 2002__12:45:06)
Carn Fflur
Carn Fflur (29 Sep 2002__13:13:14)
Cwm Teifi
Cwm Teifi (29 Sep 2002__16:40:02)

Day 5 - The Teifi Pools & Claerwen Reservoir

Dawn brought a magnificent sunrise over the lake. Taking the metalled byway around the N end of Llyn Teifi and Llyn Hir we turned back S on a side branch along the W shore of Llyn Egnant to arrive at the dam and the start of the bridleway ENE.

Sunrise over Llyn Teifi
Sunrise over Llyn Teifi (30 Sep 2002__06:59:41)
Llyn Teifi
Llyn Teifi (30 Sep 2002__07:50:00)
Llyn Egnant
Llyn Egnant (30 Sep 2002__08:11:57)

The initial direction through this somewhat confusing terrain is not obvious but in about a quarter mile, having skirted Bryn Llyn Egnant, the line can be seen ahead contouring the R side of the shallow valley. The bridleway arrives at the river and there is no bridge. The river is wide and slow here but after hunting around a little while we found a way across by island hopping. From here it is an easy and pleasant walk along the Claerwen reservoir track to the SE end. A short way down the road a bridleway track branches L to climb E to Llanerchi Wood and descends to the road bridge between Garreg-ddu and Caban-coch reservoirs.

Claerwen (30 Sep 2002__11:24:30)
Claerwen (30 Sep 2002__11:29:04)
Claerwen (30 Sep 2002__12:04:25)
Garreg-Ddu (30 Sep 2002__13:58:17)

Crossing this and turning L, we saw the track by the shore marked on the map that terminates after a short distance, so we took the road. Arriving at the start of the bridleway E (914658) we noticed that the track actually went all the way along the shore and there was an access point here!. A good path climbs steeply E by the ravine of the Nant Dolfolau to a broad saddle then descends down another attractive cleft of the Nant Madog to arrive at the minor road head. Taking this to the B4518 and crossing it, we found that a path had been opened that joins the dismantled railway a short way E. This passes over the old Rhayader tunnel which has an information board showing the bats recorded there. The path leads back to the road in Rhayader.