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Plynlimon and the Nant-y-moch reservoir

January 18, 2015 · 11 comments


A fabulous 11 mile walk on the brightest of spring days on and around Plynlimon and the Nant-y-moch reservoir in mid-Wales.

Date walked: 13th March 2014

Written up: 21st December 2014

Distance: around 9  miles

Map used: OS Explorer 213-  Aberystwyth & Cwm Rheidol


Bob and I were staying in nearby Llanidloes, a charming little market town with lots of places to stay and almost as many pubs. On this most brilliant of days it was time to follow in my Mother’s footsteps and climb nearby Plynlimon.

The mountain provides the sources for the Wye, Severn and the little river  Rheidol.  At 2,467 feet Plynlimon would be quite a climb from sea level – and it’s a good 10 miles from the sea as the crow flies.  Our starting point, though,  was a private car park at Eisteddfa Gurig on the A44 at around 1,400 feet, so that left a far less demanding trek.

Car park at Eisteddfa Gurig for Plynlimon, photographed by Charles Hawes

Avoiding getting ripped off for the car park is hard as it’s a busy road with few lay-bys

Having had £4 extorted from us we set off up a wide farm track.

Farm gate near Plynlimon, photographed by Charles Hsawes

The landowners clearlry don’t want you going astray

We passed  the little stream called Afon Tarennig….

Afon Tarennig and track near Plynlimon, photographed by Charles Hawes

…and then turned sharp right up the track, keeping the stream on our right hand side for nearly a mile.

Track leading towards Plynlimon from Eisteddfa Gurig, photographed by Charles Hawes

Where’s the sheep?

This was easy walking by anyone’s standards who isn’t on crutches and only steepened when we left the track and headed NNW towards the summit. At this point I impressed Bob by taking his ECG and heart rate on my AliveCor cover to my iphone. It wasn’t as high as mine.

Climbing Plynlimon, photographed by Charles Hawes

I really must have a word with Bob about his heads down gait.

And suddenly there we were, at the highest point in mid Wales with as good a view around us as you could possibly wish for.

View from Plynlimon to east to the Nant-y-moch reservoir, photographed by Charles Hawes

Fab view. Shame about the mast.

We shared the view with a short wave radio (I think) enthusiast who had stuck his aerial in a somewhat intrusive position and was no doubt talking to someone in Kuala Lumpa. We stood and gazed and gazed some more and then made our way over to the rocky  trig point for the statutory photo.

Charles Hawes at the Trig Point of Plynlimon, photographed by Bob Pinder

Nice that my tee-shirt matches the sky

And then we did a bit more gazing.

Photographing the view from Plynlimon towards Nant-y-moch Reservoir

It was, quite simply, wonderful. More than wonderful, really, but you can see that for yourself.

View from Plynlimon due north, photographed by Charles Hawes

This is view due North

There was no doubt that we had had the best view of the day but we were up for a walk so we headed due east from there, towards the source of the Wye. There was no path but the grass was short and the ground not too bumpy.

Cairn east of Plynlimon looking north, photographed by Charles Hawes

A large cairn marked a mini-peak in the landscape.  We didn’t fancy roaming around looking for the Wye dribble so we headed north-west, following the edge of a fence intended, no doubt, to prevent sheep getting too close to cliffs over to our left, but out of sight.

Stock fence near Llyn Llygad below Plynlimon, photographed by Charles Hawes

There wasn’t a path but it was easy enough to know where we were going.

My camera battery gave out around here and to my embarrassment I wasn’t carrying a spare, so I moved over to my iphone for the pics. At the kind of  size of reproduction here you probably can’t tell much difference.

Next to the fence we came across a curious flat slate “tombstone” which has remained a mystery until now, when a google on the inscription came up with an  answer. I love the internet. (we had seen another one a few minutes before with an arrow carved on it).

Boundary marker erected by Sir Watkins Williams Wynn near Plynlimon, photographed by Charles Hawes

Not an early internet site address

We decided to head for Llyn Llygad Rheidol – the reservoir below us where the map showed that we could pick up a path, proper.

Llyn Llygad Rheidol reservoir, near Plynlimon, photographed by Charles Hawes

First glimpse of the reservoir; we had thought about approaching it from the other side!

It was an easy enough scramble down to the lakeside.

Graig Las above the llyn Llygad Rheidol reservoir, photographed by Charles Hawes

The steepest bits are shown as Graig Las on the map.

For peace and tranquility you couldn’t ask for a better spot; not another soul in sight.

The Llyn Llygad Rheidol reservoir near Plynlimon, photographed by Charles Hawes

We were on the wrong side of Nant y Llyn- the stream that flows out of the reservoir – but it was a shallow paddle to cross its concrete lined bottom, so we kept our feet dry.

Nant y Llyn, flowing out of the Llyn Llgad Rheidol Reservoir near Plynlimon, photographed by Charles Hawes

A path  from the reservoir would have led us down to a confluence of footpaths to the north but we kept to a track that followed the side of the hill in an anti-clockwise direction, beginning to head south.

Track leading north from the Llyn Llygad Rheidol reservoir near Plynlimon, photographed by Charles Hawes

Ahead, we now had a view to the massive Nant-y-Moch Reservoir, although we could only see a slither of it at first. In the distance, close to the Afon Llechwedd mawr, which feeds into the reservoir,  a solitary house caught our attention and our imagination.

The Afon Llechwedd mawr, flowing into the Nant-y-moch reservoir, photographed by Charles Hawes

You probably can’t even see the house.

Our track passed by several ponds that I seem to remember were teeming with frogs.

Ponds above the Nany -y-moch reservoir near Plynlimon, photographed by Charles Hawes

Then it wound down the side of the hill to a metalled  road by the reservoir that leads to, and ends at, the Maesnant Outdoor Pursuits Centre.

The Nant-y-moch reservoir below Plynlimon, photographed by Charles Hawes

Walking on the road now, we passed by a pumping station next to the stream after which the reservoir is named.

Pumping station  and the Nant-y-moch below Plynlimon, photographed by Charles Hawes

The road then climbed a few hundred feet over the next mile, giving us a view to the dam which created the reservoir some 50 years ago.

Dam at the Nant-y--moch reservoir, below Plynlimon, photographed by Charles Hawes

We were nearly due west of our car park now and leaving the road we took another wide forestry track that headed in the right direction.

Forestry track leading to Blaen-Peithnant below Plylimon, photographed by Charles Hawes

Looking back we had another view of the dam ….

Dam at the Nant-y--moch reservoir, below Plynlimon, photographed by Charles Hawes

….before reaching a ruined building at the edge of  a wood, named on the map as Blaen- Peithnant.

Ruined farmstead at the edge of Blaen- Peithnant wood near Plynlimon, photographed by Charles Hawes

I love a ruin

The track headed confidently into the wood so we followed suit. Then after half a mile it came to an abrupt halt. Ahead of us was a line of  wooden electricity pylons and I managed to convince Bob that underneath them was a rough path.

Electricity pylons in Blaen Peithnant, near Plynlimon, photographed by Charles Hawes

I don’t know how he could doubt me (experience, you answer)

It was very rough. Hardly a path at all, really. And a bit of a struggle at the end of our day.  My phone battery had given up by this time so the last few pictures are from Bob’s one.

When we finally  reached the eastern edge of the wood we were very pleased to be returned to open countryside. There was no doubt now about our route as another track led back down to the buildings by the car park.

Track leading to Eisteddfa Gurig from Blaen Peithnant, photographed by Charles Hawes

Get your head up, Bob!

It was one of our best walks and we well deserved the ridiculously boozy time that we had that night at the excellent Mount Inn in Llanidloes, where I got very giggly as  I slappped my crib cards down in syncopation with some live folk music that was being played by some guys we were sitting next to. I blame the whisky. Its’ always my downfall.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul Steer January 18, 2015 at 12:16 pm

Joy – this post is joyful – the landscape expressed so well in the composition of the photographs – and good to see Bob – even if his head is down. The only whisky I have ever truly enjoyed was the Oban Single Malt after a great evening with yourself and Bob in the Dales – I can taste it now !


Charles January 19, 2015 at 11:11 am

Yes indeed is was an amazing place and a great walk. We’re reconvening at the pub next month.We’ll toast you in Talisker


Anne Wareham January 18, 2015 at 6:28 pm

Bob is (unbeknown to yourself) a world expert on the surfaces of tracks. Consequently he finds them all totally fascinating and can’t keep his eyes off them. Xx


John January 18, 2015 at 7:00 pm

He is also far less likely to fall off the edge of a cliff because while Charles is so engrossed with the view 10 miles away that he doesn’t notice. And I’ll bet that Bob knows how to fill a dishwasher 🙂

Otherwise, Paul said everything I could say about this post, and far more eloquently.


Charles January 19, 2015 at 11:13 am

No one but no one fills a dishwasher better than I.


Charles January 19, 2015 at 11:12 am

I’d never thought of that. You are right. I shall interrogate him about the paths in future.


Julia January 18, 2015 at 8:16 pm

merry blue skies and the sense of the walk comes through well. Bob would benefit from some yoga – in the open air – in Wales, no, better in India.


Charles January 19, 2015 at 11:14 am

Yes, Yoga. I think he knows this. He’s off to the Red Sea next month. Maybe that will do as a venue.


Brian Jones July 11, 2015 at 6:40 am

A good account and pics (weren’t you lucky with the weather?) but spoiled rather by your attack on the landowners by your use of “rip-off” and “extortionate” re the charge for the very handy and well-surfaced Eisteddfa car park. (I paid £5 this week despite there being empty A44 lay-bys not too far away.) Surely any business charges what the market will bear? What would you charge?


Charles July 11, 2015 at 12:26 pm

Thanks for the comment. As for the car park,maybe I am being harsh. I think it’s a shame that access to the mountain is under private control. That is a very busy road at times and I wouldn’t fancy using the lay-bys. I think £3 would be more reasonable. This car park is in effect a monopoly business and they are always more likely to exploit their position.


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