River Ennig - Wye Sub Tributary
8.5 miles total Wed 7th Jan 2015
Source Grid Ref: SO 199 - 318. 4 interactive map click right. 4 OS Explorer 13 Click
By most standards the River Ennig is a short river that due to its location flows for 6 or so miles off mountain slopes in the Brecon Beacons National Park Black Mountains and into the walker/hiker friendly town of Talgarth, once capital of the ancient Kingdom of Brycheiniog. The town’s ancient origins are perhaps why it comes across as this mythical outpost deriving its name from the word ‘Tal’ meaning, forehead or brow of a hill and ‘Garth’ mountain or promontory or end of the ridge. Undoubtedly, the waters of the Ennig are mountain fresh reaching the River Lynfi about a mile and a half outside of Talgarth near to where the 11th century Bronllys Castle stands on the opposite bank.
At source the Black Mountains loom large acting as ampule for three streams or rivulet forks that make up the Ennigs initial body, which can be seen splaying out across a cirque, cwm or huge bole like scarp. They dominate the place emanating a majestic scale indeed, what a cavernous environment for such an unassuming body of water to start life. Gazing upon it we’re reminded of what a magnificent world it is we live in, so naturally getting to such locations always infuses us with excitement, but despite the urge to press on we stop for permission to walk the land from local farmer (Mr Austin Gwillim). We recommend you do the same if you want to connect with the Ennigs source as we did that’s unless you approach it from off top of the mountains, which you can do.
By road Hereford lies 30 miles east of Talgarth so for a full day’s exploration it required an early bus, which was apt because when there we had calm empty streets to idle through, but this said, we readily identify the mountain road that offered a brisk, secluded and winter fresh approach to the trail head. Once under way, and knowing to be a short walk, we envisaged quickly the route to source and back to Telgarth via the PwllyWrach (Witches Pool) Nature Reserve, which the Ennig flows through cascading rapidly over rock and through pool as it does. The mission was always to walk the Ennig in a day and then jump on the Brecon to Hereford bus home with a meaningful ‘micro adventure’ in the bag a term introduced by global explorer Alistair Humphreys. It paid off with rich and worthwhile insights into the Black Mountains and this small but energetic River Wye sub-tributary.
The impact of exploring this environment on foot couldn’t be any bigger because as opposed to driving by in the car the reality on Terra Firma presents a vastly different picture stood, as we were, amongst the enormous escarpments of Mynydd Bychan and Y Grib. Sheltered amongst these inclines the discovery of a waterfall rouses the senses bringing to life a rugged wind-swept land interspersed with gnarly trees whilst lower down arboreal woodland conceals, as mentioned, a second waterfall of mythical and legendary status in PwllyWrach the Witches Pool. In addition, worthwhile interactions with locals pull back the vale to reveal what’s basically, a private and secluded world up here near source. Of course, besides the farmers other characters come out of the woodwork like Amos the chap who moved to the Brecon Beacons from the Isle of White and who’s farther it was founded the Ilse of White Festival. A slightly organic type he made good tea and had at his disposal a source of wisdom garnered from his travels and youth, which made for good conversation after a day on the mountain slopes.
Of course, the thing most people head for is the waterfall (Grid Ref: SO 168-327) situated in the aforementioned reserve, which comprises 17.5 acres of ancient woodland looked after by the Brecknock Wildlife Trust. It’s a good place to head for as the denseness of trees define the rivers slopes here making for a kind of temperate forest environment giving the water fall a secluded, chilled and sacred atmosphere. Apart from this during our visit there was not much activity by way of flora and fauna. However, we are informed that in summer it’s abundant. Of course, most people simply come to admire the waterfall as opposed to going all the way to source much like Mathew, Preedawan and Rob a group from Cheltenham we met lounged amid trees and falls. It was an opportunity for us all to share experiences before a return to Telgarth.
Not to mislead; due to time constraints, we didn’t get to follow the river all the way to its confluence but when walking the Lynfi some weeks later we did observe in wonderment the two rivers conjoin from the far side of the bank Grid Ref: SO 151-347 (Landranger Map 161).
Catch the word: this was a micro adventure, which lasted a single day from morning to late afternoon/early evening, it was fun and relatively simple to accomplish because when all is said and done all we did, was to pack some gear and set off into the mountains for a day to discover the source of a river. There was nothing to it in terms of energy expended but the in terms of sampling the joys of our own backyard were immeasurable. indeed, the Ennig was an eye opener and if ever you are in that neck of the woods it’s well worth a trek up to and a visit.