Elan Valley

Together with my brother-in-law, Andy we spent 4 days in the Elan Valley area taking in two cycle rides and two hill walks.

Our base was the Elan Oaks campsite  which is an excellent site. despite our stay being in August the camping field was not at all busy. there are quite a few electric hook points in a separate area.

Both our cycle rides were taken from “Lost Lanes of Wales” by Jack Thurston. The two walks were suggestions from “The Navigator” regularly mentioned in this blog.

Day 1.

When I left home and heading for Llandovery the heavens opened and I was having second thoughts about our trip as the forecast did not mention rain! Anyway when I reached the Sugarloaf the weather improved.

I met Andy at Beulah where we started our ride.


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rain clearing

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In Abergwesyn the village hall has toilets which are not locked. There is a note warning people that the area is bereft of any kind of electric signal and if walking the hills you will have to rely on the old fashioned whistle.

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Not often is there a convenient convenience.

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We cycled close to the Afon Irfon as it meandered into Llanwrtyd Wells.

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From here the route makes its way to Llangammarch Wells. Jack’s directions take you over a ford before the town but  unfortunately the footbridge was closed. We continued on to Llangammarch Wells and rejoined the route.

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Impossible ford

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Footbridge closed

We found a convenient bench for lunch just in time as a large flock of sheep were being driven down the road. This flock was met later and the farmer explained they had been driven from the the local hills for their annual inspection.

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It was then downhill back to Beulah and then a drive up to our campsite in the Elan Valley.

Day 2


Boots and rucksack today. Our high spot would be Gamriw. We walked from the campsite along quiet lanes until we met a footbridge where the collar work started. There was a path at the beginning but this petered out to various sheep tracks leading ever upwards.

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Huge mushrooms

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First pathless hill.

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Looking down from the first hill


It was dry at first but  near the high area there were bogs and wet areas and little in the way of a path. However we reached Gamriw only to find the bogs continued and the downhill was not as easy as we had hoped.

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Where is everybody?

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Gamriw trig


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Looking back up

The O S map did show paths and also forestry which had disappeared in part which did not help. Thankfully trusting to the compass we found our way to Caban Coch reservoir after passing the small dam which had been destroyed whilst practising for the bouncing bomb.

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At last a path. Caban Coch reservoir

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Although well deserved we decided against a celebratory cake in the visitor centre and headed back to our tents.

Day 3

A longer cycle ride today. Again from “Lost Lanes of Wales” and described as “The Green Desert”.


We started from the camp site and headed towards Llanwrthwl along a quiet lane steep in parts. The route then turned north towards Rhayader. We missed the Glyn bridge but crossed the river higher up and joined the traffic free route into Cwmddeudwr.

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We now faced a long and continuous climb to Penrhiw-wen with a few stops to “admire the views”. There was one longer stop to visit the waterfalls above Glanllyn. At one stage Andy was kind enough to shout back as I thought the top was in sight “false summit”!!


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Waterfall on Nant Gwynllyn

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Waterfall on Nant Gwynllyn looking back to Gwynllyn

At last the legs and lungs could take a rest as we had a fast steep ride down to Pont Elan where a perfectly situated bench awaited our lunch stop.

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Craig Goch from Penrhiw-wen

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Craig Goch reservoir our route to the right.

From here we followed the lanes alongside the reservoirs and a final stretch along the traffic free route to the visitor centre where we did celebrate with coffee and cake.

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Later back at the camp site I realised I had mislaid the cycle computer which I had removed before going into the cafe. However the next day I called back to find it had been found by a member of staff.

Day 4

This was our last day with the tents taken down and the cars packed. We drove to Rhayader and parked in the mart (free apart from Friday). We were heading to the hills to the left of our steep cycle ride of yesterday.


From the mart we walked into Cwmddeudwr and took the minor road which almost circles Coed y Cefn and then onto the farm “Treheslog”. Here there is a path although not shown as a public right of way which leads steeply onto the high ground.

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Track up from Treheslog

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Nearing the top with Gwynllyn in the background

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The top


Once again a dearth of paths underfoot until we reached Banc Trehheslog and down to the waterfall and the road we slowly peddled up on Wednesday.

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The higher waterfall with the steep road in the background

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Mr Outdoors

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Panorama before the above photo

On crossing the road we headed back to Rhayder via the wide track stopping to look at Esgair Dderw.

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There’s a large stone here somewhere according to the map.



We had lunch back at the car and we set off to our respective homes, Andy to Chester and Carmarthen for me.

there is plenty to see and do in this area  and no doubt we’ll be back to explore, hopefully with the same good weather.



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