Yesterday I drove from Hawarden (I’d spent the night at Gladstone’s Library again) down to visit my friend in south Wales. It’s long, but beautiful, journey mostly along minor A roads. After the early morning mists lifted (around Welshpool) the sun came out. Occasionally my route was diverted onto minor roads through unknown (to me) villages and hamlets and with marvellous views of distant mountains.
The evening before I’d been wondering where would make a suitable place to stop for a while en route. Whilst doing this into my Inbox popped a message to the group posted by my friend Diana, one of my online book group friends who lives on California. She’s just about to visit the UK for a couple of weeks and she explained that her trip would include visits to locations in Wales connected with the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. One of these places is the Elan Valley in mid-Wales. The Elan Valley? Never heard of it. But I looked it up and found reference to a drowned valley of reservoirs with walks and bridleways and a Visitor Centre just a few minutes off my north-south route about two hours drive from Hawarden and an hour and a half from my friend’s place on the southern edge of the Brecon Beacons. Well done, and thanks, to Diana! Due to her timely mention I have now discovered a wonderful, peaceful place for walks and relaxation which I very much hope to return to since I had very limited time to spend there on this particular occasion. Of course, the weather made a huge contribution to my enjoyment of it yesterday.
The helpful warden at the Visitor Centre suggested a route to follow from the car park but seemed persistent that I drive a circular route round the whole area. I hadn’t enough time to do this but I hope to return another day to give it a go. I set off on the walking path up to the dam and over to the first reservoir.
“The Elan Valley of central Wales was purchased by the Birmingham Corporation in 1892 for the purpose of creating a reliable municipal water source for the city of Birmingham, England, some 115 kilometers away. Prior to the construction of dams in the Valley to store a reliable supply of clean water for Birmingham, the city suffered from poor water quality and a lack of sanitation. The Valley’s reservoirs still supply drinking water to the region, but in recent years the area has become a popular destination for tourists.”
The dam and footpath rising to the top
“The management of the property was transferred to Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water, a non-profit organization, under terms of the Water Act of 1973. In 1989 Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water established the Elan Valley Trust to ensure the long-term conservation of natural resources in the Valley and to promote both public access to the land and environmental education.”
I followed the tarmac foot/cycle path alongside the reservoir and round a bend to catch a view of a bridge across to a church but at that point, regretfully, I turned back.
The turning point with view of Nantgwyllt Church
Returning to the Visitor Centre
I enquired about the Shelley connection but there was little further information available other than the pages I’d checked out on the internet the evening before. Check them out for details of the Shelley/Elan Valley connection. However, someone had dropped off a few photos/postcards the day before which included the above picture of the Shelley house which is now drowned by the reservoir. It’s in the area Nantgwyllt/Garreg-Ddu indicated on the map. In addition, just outside the Centre, there’s a statue of the famous poet.
Besides the Shelley connection I noticed mention of the Dambusters.
And the Valley is a site celebrated by the International Dark-Sky Association.
I hope it won’t be too long before I’m back in the Elan Valley enjoying a day of hikes and touring. It would be wonderful to witness the Dark Sky too.
What a lovely excursion! How lucky the timing of your discovery worked out so well.
Indeed, a perfect stop on o long journey.Next time I’m going to stay longer.