A Reservoir Walk In The Brecon Beacons

Talybont Reservoir covers an area of 318 acres in the Brecon Beacons National Park. It is surrounded by beautiful scenery including forestry and farmland.

The short walk to the reservoir begins in Talybont-on-Usk. Located just over seven miles from Brecon, this picturesque village sits between the River Usk and the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal. It has a thriving community with a shop, café and several pubs. The route starts by crossing a lift bridge over the canal and following the road through the village of Aber to reach the dam.

The reservoir was created to supply drinking water to the growing town of Newport. Construction of the dam began in 1931 on the Afon Caerfanell river. It was officially opened in 1939. There is a path across the dam which is 380 metres long.

Talybont Reservoir

The Talybont Turbine can be seen below the dam. This is part of a community enterprise that has been running since 2006. The excess water from the reservoir is used to power a turbine and generate electricity which is sold to the National Grid. The profits are then re-invested into other projects. This is an example of sustainable living using the natural resources.

Talybont Reservoir Dam

After crossing the dam, the path reaches the Taff Trail and continues through an area of forestry. The full length of the Taff Trail runs for 55 miles from Brecon to Cardiff Bay. This walk only follows it for a short distance to reach the Brinore Tramroad.

Brinore Tramroad

Opened in 1815, the tramroad linked the limestone quarries in Trefil and the coalfields of Tredegar to the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal. Horse-drawn trams transported the raw materials. Use of the tramroad declined following the opening of the Brecon & Merthyr Railway in 1863 when stream power took over.

The next point of interest is Vaughan Garden.  This is named after the famous 17th century poet, Henry Vaughan, who was born in nearby Llansantffraed in 1621. Vaughan left the area to study in Oxford and London before returning in 1642 during the time of the first Civil War. He was inspired by the landscape and it is said that his poetry may have later influenced William Wordsworth. The Henry Vaughan Walk is a specific route dedicated to the poet and covers 4 km around the Talybont valley.

This reservoir walk ends at the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal in Talybont-on-Usk. It is just over three and a half miles in total but for added miles, why not walk further along the canal towpath in either direction? The canal is an ideal location for a walk when the weather is too unpredictable to head into the mountains.

The Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal

There is so much to see and do around the village of Talybont-on-Usk. Some of the routes are accessible for cycling as well as walking and they are clearly signposted. There is a superb mix of history, scenery and nature so it is perfect for a visit during any season.

A version of this article first appeared in ‘Bwrdd’ – The Newsletter for Mensa Cymru, March 2019.