Elan Valley

The Elan Valley is a place of childhood memories. As a family we visited often at the end of the school  holidays just as the trees were turning to shades of autumn. It has been on our wish list (Mr C and I) as a place to visit for over 20 years. On the occasion of Mr C’s birthday this year we finally made the trip.

On our arrival, we found that the cafe in the valley was closed for refurbishment so we had to venture back to the nearest town, Rhayader, for lunch. Mr C chose the cafe and as we entered I wondered why we weren’t going into the pretty tea shop we had noticed as we drove through the town. I didn’t say anything; it was his birthday.

We enjoyed sandwiches freshly made to order and there were some delicious cakes on offer although we chose not to indulge. After we left the cafe we went for a brief walk in the town and Mr C noticed the pretty tea shop and realised that we had eaten in a different place than he intended. Later in the day we found out that we had had a lucky lunchtime escape. The food and service was much better in the unassuming cafe where we had lunched.

Elan Valley

After lunch we returned to the extremely windy Elan Valley to explore the various dams. I was reminded of a childhood memory of a family picnic on a Welsh hillside where it was so windy that our food blew off the plates!

Elan Valley

Elan Valley

Elan Valley

I insisted that Mr C took a detour to see the Claerwen dam and reservoir. As a child I found the immense size of the damn breathtaking and due to the amounts of water a little scary too. Mr C was astounded by the dam in the same way that I was when I first saw it. The structure still amazes me to this day, as does the immense expanse of water behind the dam.

Next, as we drove from the valley towards the town of Rhayader we were treated to a wonderful sight; looking down on Red Kites gliding in flight rather than seeing them from below. It was amazing!

We stopped in Rhayader for a cup of tea in the pretty tea shop before we continued our journey homeward and found ourselves treated to another spectacle; I noticed a Hercules flying directly towards the car, at my eye level. Just as I started to point it out to Mr C, he jumped in his car seat as he noticed it for himself. In the blink of an eye the plane flew out of sight.

Elan Valley

This incident reminded me of another childhood memory; a family picnic in the Elan Valley. My mum, dad, brother and I were sitting at a picnic bench underneath (i think) Pen-Y-Gareg. The water level was higher than on my recent visit so the water was cascading over the dam. The picnic had been unpacked and my dad (with his back to the dam) was pouring soup into a dish.

I pointed as I saw two planes emerging from just above the dam. The sound of them kicked in, causing my dad to jump and spill the hot soup. The view of the aircraft and their noise above the water was stunning!

Elan Valley

Later in the day we enjoyed fine dining (chicken cordon bleu) on the patio as the sun went down.

24 Comments CherryPie on Sep 11th 2018

24 Responses to “Excursion to the Elan Valley”

  1. Mark in Mayenne says:

    I have no idea why but the Hercules is one of my favourite aircraft, along with Concorde

    • CherryPie says:

      I have another (more recent) fond memory, this time regarding the Hercules aircraft.

      I had just left my work place (a five story building) and I was in the back car park walking to my car. I heard a deep thrumming noise which caused me to look around towards the building I had just left. I was quite surprised and thrilled to see not one but three Hercules flying low over the building. WOW!!!

      At that time the building was on the flight path for planes too and from RAF Cosford. We often saw various aircraft flying low over the building, everyone enjoyed the show Until 9/11 …

      9/11 led to a few people getting paranoid and a complaint was raised with RAF Cosford (planes are not supposed to fly over buildings where MoD employees work)!

      The flight path was changed and we no longer had free spectacular airshows every now and then…

  2. Hels says:

    Wherever you can see trees around the water… it looks serene and beautiful.

  3. Amfortas says:

    Modern architecture seems to have lost the artistic element. Or maybe it is the cost of making such large structures look attractive. Either way, it is places like that dam that underscore the decline in sightly public works.

  4. Ginnie says:

    YAY for birthdays and celebrations like this, Cherry. What a place for memories at any age!

  5. lisl says:

    It must have been really nice to go back to a place where you had had happy holidays as a child. It is so easy not to do things on one’s wish list. You are a good example for me!

  6. The Yum List says:

    It truly is a picturesque setting.

  7. A lovely post and photos – I am so glad the visit brought back many happy memories of a childhood. It is an area we used to visit when I was little too. Sadly, I have never returned but perhaps one day……….

  8. Alan says:

    It all looks lovely. We stayed in a pub in Rhayader on one of our boys’ bike weekends some years ago (and celebrated my birthday); suffice it say we had been not back. Sorry to hear about the teashop.

  9. ....peter says:

    this is a wonderful presentation of the dams and locks in the Elan Valley Cherie….peter:)

  10. Are you sure they were kestrals? The area is known for red kites (there’s a farm near Rhayader where you can see them being fed).

    I love to come home via Cwm Ystwyth and the Elan Valley after a day in Aberystwyth. It’s just such a peaceful and beautiful journey.

    • CherryPie says:

      Oops! That was a typo on my part, they were red kites. I have corrected the post now. Thank you :-)

      They may even have been flying over the farm you mention, we were close to Rhayder at the time we saw them.

  11. I have been to Rutland Water.
    Don’t think I saw any dam there.
    But there was a church built right next to the lake.

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