The River Llynfi (Aprox 5.2 miles) in the Brecon Beacons National Park rises at Bwlch (Booulk) above the Usk Valley and then flows into and through Llangorse Lake the largest natural lake in South Wales. It starts small as seepage amid the ruins of the old Norman Castell Blaen Llynfi but despite this turns into a handsome river full of dramatic landscapes, valleys and wildlife before flowing into the River Wye at Glasbury.
Blaen Llynfi Castle & Llynfi Source
Llangorse Lake Below Right with Pen Y Fan (886 M 2,906 FT) In the Brecon Beacons National Park Front
The Romans first identified Bwlch as a pass whilst fortified at Pen-y-gaer in AD70 having constructed the road to link Brecon and Abergavenny together. Abandoned at around the time of Hadrian in AD 130 the pass remained and was later defended by the Normans at Blaenllynfi Castle, which was built between 1208-1215, and then rebuilt in the middle of the 14th century. Now a ruin with a large bailey and ditch and a rubble curtain wall it provides a dramatic backdrop to the source of the Llynfi.
As a source of a river goes it is an odd mix of history and nature making for a surreal experience. We theorised about the ditch and how the Llynfi may well have provided some defence. Of course, We're not castle experts but the potential for using the Llynfi either for defence or for a water source is most definitely there especially with the latter.
Formed thousands of years ago Llangorse Lake is the result of moving ice that collected piles of debris (mud, rocks, wood and stones) which were deposited to the front and side of the glacial movement.
When the ice finally melted this debris was left to form mounds known as moraines. Llangorse Lake owes its existence to the moraine deposits left in the area between Llanfihangel Talyllyn and Talgarth.
Now set within the Brecon Beacons National Park below the imposing hills of Mynydd Troed and Llangorse it's surrounded by marsh, club rush and reed beds providing an ideal habitat for wintering birds such as Green Sandpiper and Bitterns. Canada Geese can also be found here as well Kingfisher, Swans, Reed Warblers, Great Crested Grebes and Raptors such as Hobby's and even Short eared owls can be seen higher upon the moors of Mynydd Llangorse.
Water Voles are coming back to the lake by way of a captive breeding programme. We met Sophie Lee Williams a University student from Cardiff with her family who were monitoring the Voles when we met. As we spoke about the lake and the habitat she continued by saying the Voles had been displaying unusual behaviour by way of coming out at night. She emphasised that this was due probably to the fact they were captive bred. When asked if they were reproducing the answer was: YES!
This is good news for water Voles in Llangorse Lake a glacial remain that is primarily fed by the Afon Llynfi.
The outflow of the Llynfi is on the North side of the Lake. Acting as a nursery it's packed with fry and juvenile fish ready to make it big time later. With no waymarked route following the river as such we chose to walk the length of the old Brecon railway line, which ran adjacent to the Llynfi practically all the way through to Glasbury where it met the Wye. With the Ennig meeting the Lynfi just past Talgarth the river began to swell making for an even more substantial tributary. With mountains and the Llynfi cutting some fine gorges it was an invigorating hike with a fantastic first camp with Chris Loan Wolf a local wild camper. Along the way were some historical eye openers continuously punctuated by magical Llynfi moments. For more see audio.
Llangorse Lake Conservation
Click Location for Video
We had contacted Simon Powell of Black Mountains Photography to join us at Llangorse Lake during the hike but despite wanting to partake he was with a client. The obvious choice having extensive knowledge of the area it was no surprise to see Ellie Harrison and Adam Henson of the Secret Britain team make contact with Simon also. See link for programme here.
During the meeting they speak of the 'Dragons Breath', which rises up from the valley below. Well worth a watch.
Conversation Beside The Lake
The Elan River forms the heart of the Elan Valley chain of reservoirs in the Cambrian Mountains. It is a wild and rugged part of the Wye catchment feeding both the Wye and the City of Birmingham with water. be sure to check out the link left for more on this spectacular area of Mid wales.