Those who know me well will know that I have an eclectic taste in music, which includes liking the Carpenters, in particular their 1971 hit Rainy Days and Mondays. Today it is that dreaded combination of a rainy day and a Monday. As predicted it is wet all morning, but by mid afternoon there are signs of it brightening up so we all head for a walk.
The low cloud makes venturing into the Preseli Hills pointless, we would not be able to see a thing. So instead we choose to walk around Llys-y-fran Reservoir, it is a very straightforward, undulating 7.5-mile route. We start off by walking below the dam, here water sprays from an outlet valve. The information board tells us this is to maintain a healthy river below the dam. To do so at least 13.5 million litres of water are released daily. This water is then extracted again at Canastaon Bridge pumping station.
When the reservoir is full it overflows at the top of the dam, this must be an impressive waterfall. The information board tells us that the dam height above the riverbed is 107 feet and it is 172 feet from the base of the foundation to the top of the dam. The dam is 1,100 feet long. Today the water level is well down so the dam is just a dry expanse.
The area doubles as a country park and has loads of information boards and warnings about the dangers of swimming, diving and walking on ice. There are also warnings to be aware of Killer Shrimps. A quick look at Wikipedia tells us that Dikerogammarus villosus is more commonly known as the killer shrimp. It is a species of amphipod crustacean native to the Ponto-Caspian region of Eastern Europe, but has become invasive across the western part of the continent. It lives in a wide range of habitats and will kill many other animals, often not eating them. We proceed with caution!
The reservoir, when full covers 187 acres and its shape means that there are many coves and cuts for wildlife. It is a cracking place.
After the rain we are treated to a warm and pleasant afternoon. We go at a steady pace (faster when we hear rustling in the woods – these shrimps will attack without warning!). Just as we get back to the car it starts to rain again. Now that’s what I call well timed.
After our walk we head for the Dyffryn Arms, we have been told that this is a must visit pub whilst in the area. Though named the Dyffryn Arms it is better known locally as Bessie’s, getting its name from its octogenarian landlady. Going through the door is like entering a time warp. It is a single small parlour with a serving hatch through which I can see racked barrels and a cask of cider. The choice here is limited. We are served beer from a jug by Bessie’s granddaughter Nerys.
On entering the locals were talking welsh, but when we sit down the language turns to English and we are soon included in the conversation. There is fascination as we talk about our travels and we listen with interest to the local history.
This is a special place. When I first started drinking there were a couple of local pubs like this, but they soon disappeared. On the walls there are old photographs and paintings. The pub has remained in the same family since 1840 and over the years will have changed very little. It is a wonderful place to visit.
(25th August 2014)
[To follow my walk you will need Ordnance Survey Outdoor Leisure Map OL35 –North Pembrokeshire]
© Two Dogs and an Awning (2014)