Shopping & services in the Upper Usk Valley

We hope you will find this list of local businesses useful – there are three who can offer you a good day out and the rest of the information is on where you can shop locally. Continue reading

Community meeting to gather local information, anecdotes & images.

There is a meeting on Tuesday 23rd June at The White House in Sennybridge from 7pm to which all of the local and wider community are welcome.

The purpose of this meeting is for collecting information, stories, anecdotes and pictures of rural life in the local community. The information gathered will be used to help with the development of some walking leaflets showing the history of this area being produced by Meinter Brycheiniog.

The Upper Usk Valley Group are specifically also looking for any memorabilia etc from the flooding of the Usk Valley when the Usk Reservoir was built  60 years ago as they are hoping to hold a commemoration service at Traianglas Church in the week of August 7th with a display for visitors to peruse.

The meeting is on Tuesday 23rd June at The White House in Sennybridge from 7pm.

 

Agincourt Flower Festival at St David’s Church, Llywel

In August 2015 Trecastle will be hosting the official Agincourt exhibition which is circulating the area over the Summer. The Friends Of St David’s have decided to stage the exhibition with a flower festival to be held over the weekend of 15th and 16th August in St David’s Church, Llywel.

The theme for the weekend will be: ‘The Archer’s Journey’ with each display depicting one of the villages or towns that the bowmen visited on route from Carmarthen to Southampton. The Friends are in the process of asking local groups and volunteers to prepare floral arrangements and at the same time approaching local businesses to ask if they would consider sponsoring the event. Donations would be used to fund the flowers used for the arrangements and cover the printing cost to publicise the event. 

Sponsorship Option 1 – £20 – the name of the supporting business will be included in the flower festival catalogue

Sponsorship Option 2 – £25 – the name and contact details of the supporting business will be included in the flower festival catalogue

Sponsorship Option3 – £50 – giving 1/8 of an A4 page within the flower festival catalogue.

If you would like to donate, please contact Gillian Byrne via email: gillian.tygwyn@talktalk.net for a sponsorship form.

April 2014 Community Walk

Upper Usk Valley

Upper Usk Valley Community Walks

Upper Usk Walking Group

Our next walk takes place on Sunday 27th April from Trecastle Community Hall.

Please meet at 2.00pm, parking in the layby opposite the Hall, near the red phone box, or slightly further down the road beyond the Antiques Centre

The route takes in some of the ancient track ways around Trecastle, taking in the old roman road, bridleways around the village, crossing the River Usk and heading through old woodlands.

Spring is here, so there are plenty of opportunities to see the bird life and wild flowers en route.

The route is suitable for all ages, dogs on a short lead are welcome, though please ensure they are kept on a lead as there are young lambs in the fields on the route.

Some areas may be wet and muddy and the weather forecast suggests a possibility of heavy showers, so please arrive prepared for these.

 

March 2014 Community Walk

Upper Usk Valley Community Walks

Spring is officially here, so perhaps we may be blessed with some reasonable weather for the next Community Walk?

Sunday 30th March 2014 – meet at 2.00pm: Crai Village Hall

Continuing our tour of the Upper Usk Valley area, the next walk is based from Crai, taking in Fforest Fach hill and the Crai Valley.

Starting from Crai Village Hall, the route will take us along ancient bridleways and tracks, above the old Neath to Brecon railway, the embankments and bridge foundations of which are clearly visible as you turn into Crai. The Fforest Fach hill itself, sits above Cwm Crai and Cwm Treweryn, which both show evidence of glacial formation.

The Northern summit of Fforest Fach overlooks Sennybridge and Defynnog and offer’s views of the Crai, Senni and of course Usk Valley itself. Please follow the Facebook Page Upper Usk Valley for updates.

Cray - Google Maps

Crai and Fforest Fach Google Satellite View

Around the Usk Reservoir

Upper usk Valley

The route around the reservoir

Any visit to the Upper Usk Valley is a delight with so many natural features including majestic mountains and meandering rivers and hidden lanes. One man made attraction has to be a visit to the Usk reservoir. Straddling the county boundaries of Powys and Carmarthenshire, the Usk reservoir sits in the shadow of the mighty Black Mountain/Mynydd Du. It is one of the great secrets of the west of the national park. Traditionally the majority of visitors go to either the central beacons or the east of the park. To the more discerning visitor there are so many gems to be discovered in the area known as the Upper Usk Valley and one of these is the reservoir itself. This area is far more remote and often bypassed by visitors who stick to the main roads. So there can be days when on a walk you rarely meet a soul.

The reservoir takes its name from the embryonic River Usk /Afon Wysg, which rises on the northern slopes of the Black mountain about two kilometres to the south west. From the reservoir the river flows for about 100 miles past the settlements of Trecastle and Sennybridge and onto Brecon then Abergavenny where it changes directions and heads south to Newport and out into the Severn. The river has played a key role in the shaping of south Wales as a major transport route along with the Brecon to Newport canal. Around the reservoir are several sites of archaeological interest including the Roman marching camp and a spring known as the Physicians Well.

The route around the reservoir can be accessed either from the car parks at the dam head or the forest car park at Pont’ar Wysg on the minor road from Trecastle to Llandeusant. Both are excellent starting points and the Forestry Commission (now known as Natural Resources Wales) along with the national park have excellent information panels. The circular route is on made up track and the ascents and descent are moderate so weather dependant accessible to most visitors. The circular route is just over 8Km or 5 miles. It is both a walking and cycling route and meanders through a mixture of woodland, mainly conifers but also some deciduous trees so there is a mix of habitats and associated wildlife. Recent woodland work has opened up great views of the reservoir and the Black Mountain itself. At the dam head you get a great view eastwards of the Usk Valley and Pen y Fan in the central Beacons and beyond. There are several picnic around the reservoir, so you can stop enjoy the views and have a great picnic too!

One of many picnic areas

One of many picnic areas

The reservoir and the River Usk are well know to fishermen. Along its one hundred miles you can regularly see a wide range of fish including salmon, trout and lampreys. Not surprisingly bird life is rich along the river and the majestic red kites  enjoy high numbers in this area.  A worthwhile extension to any visit to the Usk reservoir has to be a trip to Llandeusant to see the red kite feeding station where during the winter at 2pm and in the summer at 3pm you can see large numbers of these superb birds of prey.

The reservoir is close to the Upper Usk Valley settlements of Trecastle, Crai, Sennybridge and Defynnog where there are a range of quality accommodation including inns and self catering accommodation which are open all year round. Sennybridge has several shops, petrol stations and a post office and visitors are very welcome at the local pubs and Inns.

Chris Gledhill

Upper Usk Valley Signpost

Upper Usk Valley Signpost

Stormy Sunday Stroll

Usk Reservoir Walks

Wandering down towards the Usk Reservoir

I guess after our experiences so far, the title might be a more apt name for our Community Walks!

9 hardy souls ventured out on Sunday, all well equipped and ready for a couple of hours of thorough testing out of waterproofs and boots. In fairness, only around 30 minutes were actually spent out on the open moorland, experiencing a thoroughly natural and very efficient exfoliation from the elements, with plenty of shelter in the forestry for the rest of the walk and a change of start point to ensure some added shelter at the start and finish.

To quote local Brecon Beacons Ambassador, Carole Gledhill:

There is some perverse kind of pleasure in being out on open moorland in this kind of weather. Not sure why but there it is, that’s what we experienced on the community walk this afternoon! I expect it was the good company.

Initially venturing through Aled’s “20 metres of mud”, the route took us North of the Usk Reservoir, heading swiftly to the edge of the forestry and a brief description of the many hidden elements of Mynydd Myddfai and the Roman Road over Mynydd Bach Trecastell including ancient earthworks, cairns and the Roman Marching camps at Y Pigwn and Waun Ddu – the walking with Romans app is available from the App Store (iOS) or Google Play (Android)

brecon beacons mountain ponies

Mountain Ponies doing their best in the weather

Having being ignored by some equally unimpressed mountain ponies, we ventured over the moorland, eventually dropping back into the forestry some 100 metres from Physician’s well – try finding this spot without some local knowledge – where a few braved a taste of the healing waters.

Now nicely sheltered from the wind and drizzle, we wandered through the forestry, witnessing some brief views above the reservoir itself, before the cars and some dry conditions appeared.

Sadly we were finished too early to visit the Castle Coaching Inn, though we would like to take this opportunity to wish John, the landlord well as he goes into hospital for surgery this week.

Let’s hope for better health for John and better weather for our next walk on Sunday 30th March, details will be posted here.

Physician's Well usk reservoir

Usk Reservoir and Physician’s Well route map

Thanks to all that came along, we hope other’s will join us when the weather improves…..no wonder the Roman’s went home!

Reconstruction on the Roman fortlet at Waun Ddu:

Community Walks 2014

Usk Reservoir Car Park

Car Park next to the Usk Reservoir

The next Community Walk is on Sunday 23rd February 2014, starting from the Usk Reservoir Car Park and Picnic area at 2.00pm.

Sunday 23rd February – Meet at 2.00pm

Usk Reservoir Car Park

This month’s route takes us out on to Mynydd Myddfai, exploring the wilder side of the Upper Usk Valley area, with stunning panoramic views over the Towy and Usk Valley’s as well as tempting glances towards the Carmarthen Fans and the source of the Usk itself.

Dropping down off the common, we will enter the shelter of the forestry surrounding the Usk Reservoir, stumbling across the hidden Physician’s Well, the renowned healing water’s used the Physician’s of Myddfai, before trekking back through the forestry above the reservoir, quietly enjoying the peace and hopefully seeing woodcock, jay’s and woodpeckers on our return to the Car Park.

Some of the route involves walking on open moorland, therefore boots or wellies are required, the open moorland can be cold, so wrapping up warm is advisable, you may also want to bring a small drinking vessels if you feel like braving the water’s of the Physician’s Well.

Post walk gathering will be at the Castle Coaching Inn, Trecastle, where they may be the opportunity to warm up next to the open fire.

These free walks are being organised by Trecastle based activity provider – Expeditions Wales who run walking and camping activities for well over a 1000 people a year – so you’re in safe hands!

Upper Usk Valley Community Walks

Upper Usk Valley Community Walks