Afon Irfon

As a right bank tributary of the Wye the Irfon is in a spectacular setting surrounded by the rugged Cambrian Mountains in Powys Wales. It's 28 miles long approximately and flows South off Bryn Garw at 558 meters. As it gains pace the river passes through the majestic Abergwesyn Valley before reaching Llanwrtyd Wells the home of the World Alternative Games and the World Bog Snorkelling Championships. What with the Elan Valley, the first mountain bike centre in Wales at Coed Trallwm nearby, ancient woodland, fantastic mountain walks and Great wild camping the area is an outdoors mecca.

DSC05420 (1024x576)

The Wild Heart of The Wye


Click to enlarge

Getting There

By bus or by car the Irfon and its surrounds is accessible but once on foot in its upper reaches that's down to your own will and or passion to explore this amazing part of the Cambrian Mountains and Wye catchment.

Bus and Taxi

To start it would be wise to mention Llandrindod Wells is the centre of the spoke around here. Get there and you can get into the Cambrian Mountains from the Midlands or South Wales. For the North consider Aberystwyth, Welshpool and or Llanidloes.

The main service that runs through the Cambrian Mountains is the X47, which will take you from Llandrindod Wells through to Aberystwyth stopping off at Rhayader and Llangurig. It will even stop near to Sweet Lamb where you can get to the source of the Wye itself. For our purposes here and a whole river hike from source you will need to get off at Rhayader or taxi to Elan Village from Llandrindod Wells. We opted for a taxi to Elan Village, which cost £20.

Bus Links: X47 Cambrian Service - Hereford to Llandrindod Wells Sargeants Service - South Wales to Llandrindod Wells T4 Service -

Taxi Links: Yellow Pages


If driving, from Rhayader follow the B4518 west out of the town and look for a left turn that's signposted to the Elan Visitor center. For a back route to the Elan Village travel northbound on the A470 through Newbridge On Wye to Llanwrthwl turning Left over the bridge. Once in the village pass the church until you get to a small T Junction at the base of the hill and turn left until you get to Elan Village. It's a nice drive.

Streetmaps Link to area

Google Maps Link to area

Seek Out The Source

The source is wild, remote and majestic in its own right what with the plateaus of the desert of Wales visible for miles around. Here the Irfon emerges, not out of seepage as such, but through the shere volume of water that settles on top in vast bogs. Gravity takes over as it carves out a small channel beside the huge plantation atop Bryn Garw at 558 meters.

Claerwen Reservoir marks your start point having perhaps hiked or driven from Elan Village further downstream of the Afon Claerwen another Wye tributary all be it diluted via the series of reservoirs that feed Birmingham. Here there is a car park and public loo.

Setting off cross the bridge at the Claerwen Farm at its base and head up Afon Arban Valley. This opens out into a space filled view of your objective ahead. It's

DSC05323 (1024x567)

Click to enlarge

DSC04158 (1024x707)

liberating and quiet.

As you traverse the river to your left you can pick up one or two trails although for the most part it's fairly mixed with tussock grass, bog and Cambrian rock that juts out every now and then. The hard work is yet to come as you cross the river 1KM ahead to follow Nant Y Lau practically all the way to the source of the Irfon. Here be prepared for deep grass, bog and a mossy ascent punctuated by brief clear ground that provide respite from the challenges of this watershed.

Pick your way up enjoying the space as you go. You are surrounded by steep slopes, some waterfalls, the sound of water itself, Skylarks, the colours of heather moorland and often Kite circling up above. The place is an important wildlife habitat and it's there for you to enjoy.

After 2.5 Km, be aware of the main channel, which is now melding into the peat bog and moorland on top. You can identify it through your gaze as it bears right or South West as you look at it. Follow it and it will bring you to the top where the plantation resides. There you will find bog number 1. It's unmistakable full of water as it is and at the very tip of the Easterly side of the plantation, which is now felled. Continue on a few hundred meters because it's bog number 2 beside the fence you want. This is the Irfon trickling beneath the fence towards the majestic Abergwesyn Valley. How you get down is your choice. Map Link to Source.

DSC05367 (686x1024) (686x1024)

Click to enlarge

DSC05365 (1024x701)

You Have to Feel Beneath Your Feet

DSC05514 (1024x656)


Hike, Cycle or Drive Through the Abergwesyn Valley & Its High Gnarly Oak Woods


Video 2 Click


Related Links

Besides the makeshift bothy, the Abergwesyn and Lower Irfon camps we employed Cerdyn Villa, which is Set just on the edge of llanwrtyd Wells nearby the train station that runs from Swansea all the way through to Shrewsbury.

The BandB is very interesting and hosted by Berni and John two friendly hosts with a thirst for life and the whacky.

Traditional rooms feature local artwork, free WiFI, TVs, DVD players, and tea and coffeemaking facilities, plus minifridges and en suite bathrooms with showers. A private annexe adds an extra bedroom, a full kitchen and a sitting room with a sofa bed.

Daily cooked breakfast is served in a cosy breakfast room. Guests also have access to a lounge and garden. We recommend it.

Link to website

Wild Camp Locations

We camped on this river course on two occasions. The first was at Charlies farm Llanerch Yrfa at the heart of the Abergwesyn Valley. Most appeared former travellers, which we were not unaccutomed to. They were very kind and more than happy to offer a pitch. See Map Link and photo above.

The second camp was a stealth camp beside a holiday camp and required us to pitch last thing and dismantle fairly early. Having said this signs indicated there were no livestock (grass long) and no fresh tracks. This meant the land owner would most likely not be doing his rounds. The camping code still applied however as we kept it tidy and left no trace.

Our food at camp was supplied by Base Camp Food. See Link to Base Camp Food above left.

DSC05622 (1024x579)
DSC05634 (1024x632)

You are viewing the text version of this site.

To view the full version please install the Adobe Flash Player and ensure your web browser has JavaScript enabled.

Need help? check the requirements page.

Get Flash Player