The newly formed Upper Usk Rural Alliance invite all members of the communities of Sennybridge, Trecastle, Crai and Defynnog to come to their launch event on Wednesday 30th April between 2 – 8 pm. Find out what’s happening in the local area and meet other local residents and businesses. Be amongst the first to see the wonderful new local guide leaflets highlighting local walks and history in each community. Refreshments served all afternoon and drinks & nibbles served before evening entertainment from your local YFC. Everyone welcome, drop in or stay throughout!
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!
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.
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!
Special birds that have been seen in the area include:
- Greater Spotted Woodpecker
- Red Kite
- Snow Bunting
- Eagle Owl
- Pied Wagtail
To find out more about birdwatching in the Brecon Beacons, Brecknock Wildlife Trust has bird-spotting tips and there are stunning nature reserves in and around the Upper Usk Valley area
Feed red kites – red kite feeding station