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Connecting with the beautiful blue and green spaces of Mid Wales

The Elan Valley

The Elan Valley, Llyn Clywedog, and Lake Vyrnwy reservoirs, are just some of the amazing blue and green spaces in Mid Wales.

These majestic reservoirs, all situated within the county of Powys, provide a backdrop that inspires local communities, promoting a strong sense of place connection.

The eight reservoirs offer a host of activities in secluded beauty spots that are well worth discovering as Mid Wales displays its glorious autumn colours.

They appeal to walkers, heritage visitors, cyclists, sailors, anglers, artists, bird and wildlife watchers, patrons at local cafes and visitor centers and tourists staying at local accommodation and hospitality venues.

Llyn Clywedog, five miles west of Llanidloes, is set in between the Victorian reservoirs of the Elan Valley to the south and Lake Vyrnwy to the north.

Constructed in the 1960s, Llyn Clywedog is home to the tallest concrete dam in the United Kingdom at 72-meters high and comes complete with sweeping views across inspirational hills and valleys.

The dam is set against an ancient landscape, bordering the Hafren Forest and the remote, rugged atmosphere of the Cambrian Mountains. Afon Clywedog, a headwater of the River Severn, flows through the Victorian ruins of the Bryntail Lead Mines below.

This reservoir is a critical part of the Hafren Dyfrdwy flood control system for the River Severn. It has become integrated into the livelihood and leisure of the area, providing a great day out for visitors.

From creative art workshops that support members of our local community, water sports and education, to family-friendly walking routes past historic sites, which form part of Glyndwr’s Way, all activities provide a fantastic place to visit, relax and connect with the outdoors.

Recent investment from Hafren Dyfrdwy to renovate the reservoir visitor centre has allowed the creation of a community cafe, Caffi Clywedog, which is fully accessible. In addition, the site has its own community arts creative hub, which overlooks the breathtaking views.

At the creative hub, Radiate Arts CIC works within the local community to provide workshops, which aim to foster people’s wellbeing and uses the inspirational surroundings to spark creativity.

Pam Gordon, director of Radiate Arts said: “Everything we do is about delivering projects with those who would not usually experience art as part of their everyday life, providing a much-needed resource to feel the benefit of the arts in our lives.

Our activities include stone-carving, textiles and painting which are open to the public. The impact on wellbeing from the creative arts in such a fantastic place is transformational to those we work with.

“Our 100% plant-based Caffi Clywedog is next door and provides refreshments for courses and to those exploring the area. We are part of a strong rural community, Connecting Clywedog, and there is so much to explore here.”

The Elan Valley is a reserve which spans over six square kilometers and supplies the drinking water for Birmingham. In 2015, the Elan Valley Estate became the world’s first privately owned but publicly accessible International Dark Sky Park.

Dammed to provide the city of Birmingham with clean water after the industrial revolution, today the 72 square mile catchment is a haven for wildlife and a marvel to see, with five and a half dams on show.

The Elan Valley has a long-established connection as a place to inspire artists, with poet Shelly himself spending time here many years ago.  Today, the Elan Links: People, Nature and Water National Lottery Heritage funded project is building on this by offering funded artist residencies and a prestigious Arts Council Wales funded fellowship.

Eluned Lewis, Elan Links Scheme manager said: “It’s sometimes hard to quantify the benefits of developing artist residency programmes.  After a number of years, we are now seeing artists who have gained national recognition following time spent at Elan Valley which is great for the artists and for the location.

“The Elan Valley is a special place with a unique landscape, story and history. Elan Links is a Heritage Lottery funded scheme which aims to secure this heritage and boost the opportunities available in the Elan Valley for the future.”

Between 2018-2023, there will be 26 projects delivered, which celebrate heritage, improve access for visitors and archive their stories. Elan Links, which is led by partnership board, aims to improve training opportunities and enhance nature and wildlife in the area.

Nearly £3.4million will be invested in the Elan Valley area to safeguard heritage and increase the opportunities for visitors.

Lake Vyrnwy, situated 37 miles north of Clywedog, offers a range of activities, such as watersports, a spa at Lake Vyrnwy Hotel, cycling and walking trails for all abilities as well as an RSPB reserve and the largest organic farm in the UK.

Donna Marshall, senior visitor engagement officer for Lake Vyrnwy, said: “Lake Vyrnwy truly is a magical place that has so much to give. It offers stunning views, woodland walks and rare wildlife, and it really is somewhere where people can come and immerse themselves amongst the nature around them.

“We’re extremely lucky that at Hafren Dyfrdwy we own and manage Lake Vyrnwy, as well as Clywedog where we also funded the renovation of the cafe, as we know just how valuable that having access to sites like this is for local communities and visitors.

“After the year we’ve had, it’s really important that there are places across Wales where people can come and re-connect with nature and get back out again into the open air, and Lake Vyrnwy is the perfect place to do just that.

“From Wales’ tallest tree, RSPB bird hides, a local café on site, plenty of unique wildlife to spot, fairy tale towers and impressive dam, it truly is a place to remember.”