/ Elan Valley Overnighter - Suggestions

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MonkeyPuzzle - on 20 Sep 2016
I've been looking at an easy circuit to try with a single night's bivvy and the Elan Valley looks like it appeals (and I've never been there).

I'm looking for any recommendations for places to park up and start from and anything that I should go out of my way to include on my route. There's a bothy, Moel Prysgau, on the MBA website, and strangely another, Lluest Cwm Bach, that I can only access on the MBA website from an external link: https://www.stayinwales.co.uk/wales_picture.cfm?p=4733 - is this bothy still okay to use?

Any knowledge of the area welcome.
Mike Peacock on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to MonkeyPuzzle:

Direct google for Lluest Cwm Bach works fine for me (http://www.mountainbothies.org.uk/bothy-details.asp?bothy_id=121). I've never stayed there, but I do keep meaning to visit.

Depending where exactly you roam, some suggestions:

Drygarn Fawr is the biggest hill in the area. The approach via Rhiwnant is good, and leads into some really empty country (mind, the entire wider area is empty!).

Cwm Ystwyth is interesting, and Pen y Garn is a little hill worth a visit if you don't mind wind turbines. The nearby Rhuddnant Gorge is spectacular.

There's also a third, non-MBA bothy, but I've never been to that one either:
http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/724867
Moley on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to MonkeyPuzzle:

I've spent many a night in the Moel Prysgau bothy, basic but fine, you rarely find much has been left there so ensure you carry candle, matches etc. It is in a wonderful remote spot in the forestry, plenty of water. There's also the Élan valley bothy at Claerddu, north of Teifi pools - I'm fishing the pools on Friday if you fancy dropping by and picking up a trout for your tea...........some hope!!! This is quite a well appointed bothy with gas cooker and coal if I remember rightly.
Another new bothy at north east bank of Craig Goch reservoir, LAN Wen I think but not been there.

Good parking at base of Claerwen reservoir dam, with toilets, a good central point to walk from. Much of the land will be wet underfoot and you need to find the paths, this can be challenging if you don't know them, but it is great country and I've been running/walking it for 30 years.
Have a good one.
Welsh Kate - on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to MonkeyPuzzle:

Elan Valley is perfect backpacking country, I've done several routes there and am always happy going back.

The 'new' bothy at Lluest Cwm Bach on the N.E side of Craig Goch res is absolutely lovely, someone regularly goes in with a wheelbarrow of wood, I suspect because they don't want bothy-goers raiding the little copse just by the bothy. It's quite spacious, it was very clean when we were there in June, and there's a toilet which you can flush using the rainwater collected from the roofs. We were planning on one night there and another at the sheepfolds at SN870689, but enjoyed the bothy so much we did a circular walk the second day and went back to the bothy for the night!

There's also a nice spot at the deserted farm at Ty'n y Pant, SN926632, though no water. You do get to walk past the little dam that Barnes Wallace blew up when he first started thinking about dambusting, on the way in from the Visitor Centre.

If you're going by car, they're very relaxed in the visitor centre and I've left my car there several times, just left the details with the guys at the desk there.

It does rain a lot there (there's a reason the land was bought and flooded to provide Birmingham's water supply), but it's wonderful country.

Photos of the bothy here, including pictures of the stray foxhound puppy we rescued and carried out the next morning in a makeshift papoose!
https://get.google.com/albumarchive/107059971728414503961/album/AF1QipMO-u9p-RIQiAraT8XFXG0jBU7evvkx...
Dave Williams - on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to MonkeyPuzzle:
Over two days you could walk the Elan Valley reservoir catchment area watershed, which is marked by boundary stones, starting and finishing in Rhaeadr Gwy. If you kept strictly to the watershed, then it's quite a gruelling walk, but careful examination of an OS map reveals several shortcuts - or cheats - some of which are on public RoW which deviate from the true watershed and make the whole thing more manageable. Eg [1] Using Rhiwnant/ Nant Paradwys to access Drygarn Fawr instead of approaching via Cnapiau'r Ferlen and Gorllwyn. [2] The Monks' Trod could be used between Claerwen Farm and Pont a'r Elan instead of exploring the dubious boggy delights of the true watershed to the north.

Claerddu, the Elan Valley Trust's palatial bothy, would then be ideal as an overnight stop as it's as distant from Rhaeadr as you'd get. If it was me I'd walk it in a clockwise direction and get Drygan Fawr over and done with on the 1st day.

The advantage of this circuit is that there are many alternatives and in bad weather valley tracks, FPs and bridleways could be used instead of traversing the tops, which are very challenging to navigate in poor viz. (This terrain was used by the OMM in 2009!) Also bear in mind that Claerddu bothy is very close to a road and for this reason can be busy at times. The other bothy in the area - Lluest Cwm Bach (MBA) - is very new and very smart, but isn't in as ideal a location as Claerddu for a 2 day circuit - but could be used instead if weather considerations dictate a shorter or truncated circuit.

Also worth noting that underfoot conditions in the area ATM are more akin to mid winter than late summer. The ground is literally saturated, so this may have a bearing on plans/ routes etc.

Have a good one whatever you decide to do.
Post edited at 21:24
MonkeyPuzzle - on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to everybody:

This is fantastic info everyone. Many thanks.

Sounds boggy this time of year - still worthwhile? Bivvy and tarp not advisable over a bothy stay then?
Moley on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to MonkeyPuzzle:

Much of it is boggy, not desperate, just soft and damp underfoot - though you can disappear up to your waist at any moment in places! There are plenty of places where you can pitch tent/bivvy with no problems, but you need patience to find them and it can be a slog.
I was on top of Drygan Fawr last Thursday, in scorching heat but the peat still holds the wet.

Do whatever you feel like, you'll be fine, there's about 70square miles to play in.
Dave Williams - on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to MonkeyPuzzle:
> Sounds boggy this time of year - still worthwhile?
It's particularly bad at the moment due to the 'summer' we've just had, but still very worthwhile if you want some space and the likelihood of seeing no-one else. After all, it's not called the 'Green Desert of Wales' for nothing ...

> Bivvy and tarp not advisable over a bothy stay then?
Not at all IMHO. It's just that the existence of 2 bothies in the area gives you a choice between bivving or staying in a 'stone tent' if you fancied that instead - or if weather conditions dictate otherwise. There are numerous wild camping spots - eg. to the west and north west of the Claerwen reservoir by small lakes such as Llyn Carw or Llyn Gynon for instance, as well as by Llynnoedd Cerrig Llwydion just north of the Monks' Trod. You can bivvy on the summit of Drygarn Fawr too; a very fine spot indeed.
Post edited at 23:32
MonkeyPuzzle - on 21 Sep 2016
In reply to Dave Williams:

Thanks Dave, and others. Better start checking my kit - it's been longer than I would have liked.
Moley on 12:32 Sat
In reply to MonkeyPuzzle:

Just back from my night up at the Teifi pools (big trout for tea ), it's a little breezy up there last night and this morning! Look forward to hearing where you went and how you got on.
MonkeyPuzzle - on 14:28 Sat
In reply to Moley:

Cheers! It's next weekend I'll be going. One eye on the forecast, with Dartmoor as a possible fallback if it looks particularly grim.

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