To the west of Rhayader is the Elan Valley Estate, owned by Welsh Water and managed by the Elan Valley Trust, the series of reservoirs set in the outstanding scenery of the Elan and Claerwen Valleys have created a home for wildlife and a place to inspire us all.
Elan & Claerwen Valleys
Walking: With 72 sqaure miles of Elan Valley Estate, walking routes in this our part of the Cambrian Mountains is spectacular. See a selection of the Elan Valley walks here.
History: In the 19th century, at the time of the Industrial Revolution Joseph Chamberlain, then leader of Birmingham City Council, set about finding a clean water supply for the City.
The Elan and Claerwen Valleys had been identified by the engineer James Mansergh as having the best potential for water storage - with
• An average annual rainfall of 72 inches (1830mm).
• Narrow downstream valleys which made building the dams easier.
• Impermeable bedrock preventing the water seeping away.
• Altitude - the area is mostly higher than Birmingham enabling the water to be transported by gravity alone, without the need to be pumped.
An Act of Parliament was passed for the compulsory purchase of the area and in 1893 the building work began. Over 100 occupants of the Elan Valley had to move, only landowners received compensation payments. Many buildings were demolished, among them 2 manor houses, 18 farms, a school and a church (which was replaced by the corporation as the Nantgwyllt Church).
A railway line was constructed to transport the workers and thousands of tonnes of building material each day and a village of wooden huts was purpose built to house many of the workers on the site of the present Elan Village.
The Elan Valley Dams were officially opened by King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra on 21st July 1904, and the later built Claerwen Dam was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1952.
Present Day: The dams and reservoirs of the Elan Estate are situated within an area of outstanding scenic beauty. They provide a lasting amenity in their own right for visitors to enjoy. The protection of the water catchment area to prevent pollution of the reservoirs has safeguarded the habitats of numerous species of flora and fauna and now the 70 square miles of moorland, bog, woodland, river and reservoir are of national importance for their diversity of lower plants (ferns, mosses, lichens and liverworts) and the Estate is the most important area for land birds in Wales.
Rhayader & Elan Valley Angling Association
Wales, and in particular mid-Wales, has always been one of Britain's premier fishing areas, and Rhayader is at the heart of the "Lakeland of Wales". Rhayader is a small market town on the banks of the river Wye and is at the gateway to the spectacular Elan Valley in the Cambrian Mountains.
By entering the Rhayader and Elan Valley Angling Association's website, you will have found an angler's paradise at prices that are hard to beat. (Concessions for OAP's / Disabled / Juniors).
Fly-fishing only is available in the beautiful Elan Valley. A series of dams has formed four reservoirs with a total area of 850 acres, supporting a good head of wild brown trout. Also the Claerwen Reservoir, 900 acres of wild brown trout fishing.
The Association owns Llyngwyn, a 16-acre spring fed natural lake in quiet surroundings, with private car park at the lakeside. Three boats are available for anglers. The lake is stocked regularly throughout the year with rainbow trout, and there is also a good stock of brown trout. Carp fishing is also allowed on part of the lake. Almost daily, red kites can be seen hovering above.
The Elan Valley reservoirs and Llyngwyn Lake are Troutmaster waters.
For the angler who is looking for river fishing, the Association has five miles of the river Wye for salmon, brown trout and grayling; two miles of the river Elan for brown trout, grayling, pike and some coarse fish; and three miles of the river Marteg (a tributary of the Wye) for brown trout and two miles of the Claerwen River for wild brown trout fishing.