Over the years we’ve walked many times around the Llys – y- Fran reservoir, now called the Llys-y-Fran Country Park.
Back in the day (as my grandad used to say), the walk around the reservoir (about seven miles) was more of a hike and a scrabble around rocks, trees, and, sometimes, through streams. There’s still a little negotiating of streams, as I mention later.
But first the technical and public information bits…
Llys-y-Fran Country Park is three hundred and fifty acres in all, which includes the two hundred and twelve acres of the reservoir. In the parish of the village Llys y Fran, the community of New Moat, it’s on the southern slopes of the Preseli Mountains.
Llys-y-Frân dam was constructed between September 1968 and 1972.The final concrete was laid on the nineteenth May 1971, completing a total of over 500,000 tons of the stuff since the project began. By May, the depth of water had risen to forty feet but it was only on the fifth of December 1971, exactly nine months after impounding had started, that the reservoir overflowed for the first time.
The reservoir was officially opened by HRH Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, on Tuesday, the ninth of May, 1972.
The dam is a hundred feet (thirty metres) high and the lake is fed by the River Syfynwy. The water is used by homes and industry in south Pembrokeshire and is managed by Welsh Water. It’s one of eight-one reservoirs in Wales.
The forecast for the day was good, so we donned walking boots and rucksacks and set off. I’m cheating a little here – the photograph below was taken on the last stretch of the homeward-bound section, as we looked back with smugness on how far we’d walked.
Back to the beginning… These days the walk is a wider, if still steep and winding in places, gravelly track around the circuit of the lake, and is interspersed with cycling routes of varying degrees of difficulty. I promise you, (and am most disappointed that I forgot to ask husband to photograph it), there was one route highlighted by a sign of a skull and crossbones… with a note that the route was only for those of the highest skill and fitness … (and, I added to myself, the most crazy!).
“There’s a lot of water to cross, isn’t there?” I remarked, after wobbling on strategically-placed rocks and tree trunks in one particularly wide stream.
“Well, it is a reservoir,” he replied, striding manfully through the water.
“Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit!” Was the only remark I could summon up, as I stopped trying to balance and sloshed after him.
The whole time we walked we met only two cyclists and three couples with dogs. The sun shone (most of the time) and there was just a slight breeze that moved the grasses, the patches of daffodils, the leaves and petals of the primroses, the early gorse. Except for the calls of the Canada Geese and, at one point, the noisy squabble of seagulls, it was peaceful. Through the woodland there were stunning views all along the way.
We stopped for a picnic. I won’t admit we stopped to catch our breath – although we did do a bit of puffing up those steeper parts. I’ll even go as far as to say it stopped me talking … sometimes! Anyway, we were ready for a bite to eat, a coffee, and another photograph opportunity .
The photographer! What isn’t seen here is the robin who followed us around for a least a mile after we’d fed him some crumbs, and is a few inches behind David, patiently waiting for him to move (he had his foot on a crust of bread).
What used to take us two and a half hours to walk this trail, this time took us over three and a half. I claim mitigating circumstances – we stopped often ( very often) for husband to take photos. Oh … and to eat the picnic.
And I refuse to talk about the fact that we both walked like ducks the day after!
N.B. The word llys translates into English as “court” and y frân translates as “[of] the crow“. Just thought you might like to know that.