Elan Valley Geocaches and Dam Open Day

The Easter holidays continue and we were all of work and school on Wednesday. Morgan had a friend coming to stay for a sleepover and we had an afternoon out planned so I started the morning with some work followed by a quick run.

Anna was still in bed when I got back but I soon roused the troops and it wasn’t long before we were heading off in the car to collect Cameron, pop into the Co-op to buy supplies for a picnic and then start the drive out towards the Elan Valley. It’s quite a bit further away than you think from Ynyslas and the twisty windy roads up to Devil’s Bridge, out through Hafod and then all the way along Cwmystwyth don’t help. Morgan and Cameron were getting restless by the time we turned off the mountain road and headed into the Elan Valley so we stopped here for a picnic. It’s a nice spot, right where the River Elan first opens out into the Craig Goch Reservoir.

Elan Valley Geocaches

The weather was grey, overcast and a little drizzly, with a cold wind keeping things chilly so we ate in the car. I had loaded up the phone with various geocaches in the area though and guessed there would be one here . Sure enough there was, so Morgan, Cameron and I jumped out of the car and went in search of it. It didn’t take long to find so we had soon logged ‘No Dam in Sight’ cache number eight of the the ‘Dam it Drive through’ series.

Cameron had never done any geocaching before so we had to explain how it worked to him and the fact that there were plastic boxes all over the world just waiting to be found. He seemed to be enjoying it though and was soon asking ‘ how far until the next one?’ as we drove along the shores of the Elan Valley Reservoirs. Luckily for Cameron there are actually quite a few geocaches along here. not only from the Dam it Drive Through series, but others as well so we were stopping fairly regularly to find them.

Our actual destination was the Penygarreg Dam which was open today, but it was open from 1pm-4pm so we had plenty of time to stop for geocaches on the way there.

The next geocache was called ‘Dam Sheep’, also from the Dam it Drive Through series and this was followed by one called Calming Craig Goch which wasn’t par of the series but provided some nice views over the Craig Goch Dam. It was raining quite a bit by now though so time to don the waterproofs. Although the two boys didn’t bother as they scrambled over the wet grass looking for the cache.

Craig Goch Dam

Craig Goch Dam

Geocaching

Geocaching

So far, so good, three geocaches already and some nice Welsh scenery too. We had to post a DNF on number 6 in the series though. There had been quite a few DNF’s in the logs recently though so maybe it is gone missing? There were some nice views over the Penygarreg Reservoir from here though. The reservoir has a lovely island in it that looks ripe for exploring – if only you were allowed on the water in a canoe!

Elan Valley Island

Elan Valley Island

Dam Open Day

The next in the series was right by Penygarreg Dam, our destination for the day. The dam was open today allowing an exclusive opportunity to enter into the dam and up into the central tower. It only costs £1 each and all proceeds go to the WaterAid charity so it seemed like quite an excitin thing to do. We parked on the roadside and walked up through the woodland to the dam entrance. There was a ranger here taking your money, but there was also a geocache here too. Unfortunately with the Ranger there and lots of other people we had to miss this one out, but we were soon into the dark, narrow passageway under the dam.

It was quite interesting inside to see these passages that you an’t normally access. There were even steeply sloping passages that dove down into the depths of the dam, although we weren’t allowed down these. Once in the middle of the dam you could go up to the central tower where there was a little display about the building of the dam along with some nice views to the river far below. It felt as though we had gone quite a way inside the passage but we were only halfway across the dam and looking back from the central tower it looked much shorter than it felt when inside the passageway.

View from the Central Tower

View from the Central Tower

It was then back down into the passageway and along the second half of the dam to emerge on the other side. We then scrambled down a path through the woodlands to the river below. There was no water coming through the dam today, presumably it had been closed off for the Open Day, but this meant that the river was very low and barely flowing. It did give some nice views of the spillovers though which gives a sense of the engineering involved in building such structures.

Overspill

Overspill

Pen-y-Garreg Dam

Pen-y-Garreg Dam

We then crossed the bridge back to the otherside of the river which is lined with moss-covered trees. There was single red rose floating in the river for some reason, we have no idea where it came from though. The boys tried playing pooh sticks on the bridge but the water was barely flowing so it didn’t work. It was quite strange seeing the river so low though as smooth, eroded rocks that are usually submerged were exposed. as were roots of trees that are usually in the water.

Once back at the car it had finally stopped raining, so off came our coats and we continued on around the lakes to the next geocache.

More Elan Valley Caches.

Next on the list was a quick cache and dash next to a little waterfall called Nia and Fion’s Elan Cache. This is actually quite an old cache having been here since 2005 but it was in good condition and we soon found it and logged. Cameron was getting quite into geocaching by now and seemed to be enjoying himself, as was Morgan.

Stream

Stream

Next on the list was just a short distance along the road, and was number 4 of the Dam it Drive Through series called ‘Dam Trail‘. It was alongside the Garreg-Ddu trail, a cycle route that runs all the way around the Gareg Ddu Reservoir.

 

Elan Valley Cycle Path

Elan Valley Cycle Path

We were then off towards number 3 in the series, ‘For God’s Sake’ which was across yet another dam and alongside Nantgwyllt Church. This  is a victorian church built by the Birmingham corporation to replace the small Nantgwyllt church which was swallowed up by the flooding of the Elan valley when the reservoirs were created. The Garreg Ddu dam here is unusual too as it doesn’t really look like a dam at all. It is a submerged Dam but looks more like a bridge.

The geocache was easy to find though and it looked as tough there was some good mountain biking to be had around here too.

The next cache ‘Dec-Elan‘ was just a shot distance away on the other side of the dam, on the cycle path alongside Caban Goch Reservoir. There was then another from the Dami it Drive Through Series ‘Dam View’ near the picnic area overlooking Caban Goch Dam. We the drove on to the visitor centre where we found one more geocache and had an ice-cream.

The sun had come out now, but it was time to start heading home so we drove into Rhayader and headed back along the main A470 towards Aberystwyth. We did make one more stop just outside of Rhayader for a cache and dash geocache – ‘A470 CACHE & DASH – HYDRANT‘. We also took the scenic route rom Ponterwyd up over to Pendam just for a change as we headed home.

Not a bad day out really, other than the petrol, the ice-creams and the £1 entry fee for the dam it was free, we found 10 geocaches taking our total up to 417, we managed to explore inside a dam, we didn’t get too wet in the rain and we even had an ice cream in the sunshine. I think we have also convinced Cameron to take up geocaching.

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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.

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