Walking in Glamorgan, South Wales. Guided walks, routes &
Webmaster, Angus McDonald
Last updated 4.11.03
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Lliw Valley Walks
To get to the Lliw Valley reservoirs leave the M4 at junction 46 following the signs to Felindre and the brown Country Park signs. As soon as you see the Felindre village sign turn right along Heol Penfidy to follow the Lliw Reservoirs signs which bring you to the country park. There are good facilities here with car parking, toilets and a cafe. There are walks for everyone from a short wander round a reservoir, a 4 mile route suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs and an open moorland route of over 10 miles.
Road map to start. Start walk at SN 64977/03373
Sculpture by Naomi Bunker – Emergence.
Suitable for push-chairs, wheelchairs or anyone wanting a steady, flat route. The path also has clear white lines on each side to mark the edge, particularly for the benefit of those with any visual impairment. There are around 10 benches along the way. As it is a 'there and back' route, just go as far as you want and return.
Showing the clear, flat track with fine scenery
Take the road which passes the visitor centre on your
right. Pass some metal gates continuing along the tarmac path. Apart from a
short gentle ascent early on, the route is quite flat. At the end of the lower
reservoir, views open up of the hillsides on both sides – an area where
buzzard, raven and red kite are not uncommon. The track eventually curves to the
right and ascends to bring you to the upper reservoir (SN 66241/05875) where you can head left
for a short way along the top of the reservoir. Return the way you have come –
the total distance to the upper reservoir and back is just over 4 miles and
takes about 1 hr 25 mins on foot.
Upper Lliw Reservoir
A short walk around the lower Lliw reservoir; mostly flat but with one set of steps to descend followed by footpath.
This walk goes around the reservoir
Head along the road, then tarmac track, with the visitor centre on your right. After a little over 15 minutes walking, take the wooden gate on the left (SN 65399/04486) and follow the stone steps down to the picnic area . Cross the wooden bridge and follow the path as it curves left, the reservoir on your left. At the end of the reservoir, turn left across the dam to return to the car park. The total distance is 1.93 miles and it takes around 40 mins.
A short walk around both reservoirs, 5.2 miles, 8.3 kms
Combines the first two routes with a little bit of woodland for good measure.
Follow the tarmac path for 2 miles as in the 'wheel-friendly walk' to reach the Upper Lliw reservoir. As you approach the house turn left through a metal gate with the reservoir on your left. Pass a waymark post and a Gower Way stone marked '45'. Go through a metal kissing gate and then another to reach an information notice about this plantation, known as the Brynllefrith plantation, consisting of Larch, Scots Pine and Sitka Spruce. Keep ahead with the wire fence on your left - there is no obvious path at first but there are regular waymark posts.
At the end of the reservoir the path curves right and starts to descend. Cross a stream and head right up some steps. The path now curves uphill with a small ravine on the right to meet a broad track. Turn right along the track which starts to descend to meet a waymark post. Turn right at this point to bring you back to the notice-board from earlier. Retrace your steps to the house by the Upper Reservoir. (3.04 miles, 1hr).
Follow the tarmac track back towards the Lower Reservoir. Cross a cattle grid by a metal gate and after 100 yards go through the wooden gate on the right (SN 65399/04486) and head down the steps to a picnic area. Cross the bridge and head left along the path with the reservoir on your left. At the end, return to the car park by crossing the dam, (5.27 miles, 1 hr 55 mins).
See map below
A longer walk, 10.7 miles, 17.2 kms
Upper reservoir with open moorland beyond
This walk of 10.5 miles moves from the sheltered Lliw Valley up onto open moorland where a compass or GPS is worth having particularly if the visibility is poor. The route includes part of St Illtyds Way as well as the Gower Way. At its highest point you are at 1213 feet above sea level when you are at Penlle'r Castell - an old hill fort or castle.
The grassy area where our route turns off
Take the tarmac track past the visitor centre, as with the other walks, with the Lower Reservoir on your left. At the end of this reservoir the track emerges from woodland into a more open area. As you cross a cattle grid note the stone Gower Way marker, number 43, - you will see more of these later. The track curves left and then right to bring you to a grassy area on the left with a bench and tucked away under the gorse a concrete and metal stile (SN 65424/05159)). Drop down to the stream, cross it and then a boggy area. About 30 yards beyond the stream and through the gorse you come to a track. Turn right uphill along this track, following the line of the electricity cables and running parallel with the tarmac track you have just left. Ignore side paths to the left. The narrow path becomes grassy and wider and passes to the left of a wire fence where the electricity cables veer off to the right. Keep ascending towards a rocky crag ahead. Follow the path through the area of fallen rock with fine views of the upper reservoir soon appearing. You come to two hillocks on the right - make sure you are on the path which skirts the bases of the hillocks and then heads downhill through bracken. The path then ascends and you will see in the distance the dark green of a conifer plantation which is what we are aiming at although it will disappear and reappear as the route descends and ascends. The path drops down to a stream. (2.28 miles, 50 mins, SN 65661/06456).
Crags to the left. Right, view down to Upper Lliw Reservoir
Cross the stream and keep ahead. If you have a compass or GPS follow a bearing of around 340. The path descends to cross another stream then ascends the moorland ahead - there are several sheep tracks but follow the one on the left. Keep ahead when you cross a wider track - when the plantation reappears aim for the left-hand end of it, the track by now may well have disappeared. Soon you will see a small valley ahead with a stream; follow any track to the right which keeps the valley about 100 yards on your left. As the valley flattens out look out for some rocks on the far side of the stream in the valley which marks the crossing point with some visible paths beyond. Cross the stream and then take the path to the right which runs parallel with the stream, now on your right. Aim for the left-hand end of the plantation when it appears - a white notice on a post is visible some way away - and leave the sheep tracks when they take you away from this direction. At the corner of the plantation you meet a broad track, ( 3.74 miles, 1 hr 20 mins, SN 64922/08532).
This track is St Illtyds Way. Head right along it with the plantation on your left - and look ahead to see its route winding steadily uphill with a steep valley appearing on your left. When the track eventually forks take the left fork which brings you to a road by a (fallen!) waymark post. Cross the road and keep straight ahead over moorland until after 200 yards you come to some earthworks which mark the site of Penlle'r Castell - a good spot for a break with fine views. This is also the start of the Gower Way. (4.97 miles, 1 hr 47 mins, SN 66532/09620)
Penller Castell with the Brecon Beacons in the distance
From the far side of the earthworks, where the information sign is located, drop down to a narrow lane, not the road that you crossed earlier which is clearly visible, but one that branches off it to the right. You can aim for any of the electricity pylons. When you reach the lane, turn right along it heading steadily downhill. The lane curves to the right until you get to a point where there is a track off to the left and a wooden signpost indicating St Illtyds Way and a Gower Way marker, number 48. However we are going to go right at this point so look up at the hillside on the right of the road where you should be able to make out a grassy track heading diagonally up the hillside in a Southerly direction. As you crest the hill you will see a prominent Gower Way marker, this one 47. The track peters out but keep going in the same direction towards where some clumps of rush are alongside a road. As you get nearer you can see Gower Way number 46A. (6.49 miles, 2 hrs 20 mins, SN 66724/08150).
Turn left along the road, gently uphill and then descending - the Upper Lliw reservoir appearing on the right. The road levels then starts to ascend. Just as it does so turn right along a track by a metal barrier heading towards a plantation and Gower Way stone 46. Cross a wooden stile by a metal gate to enter the plantation and take the wide stony track straight ahead. Eventually the track narrows and you will see the reservoir through the trees to the right. When you get to a waymark post with an arrow pointing to the right, turn right over rough ground towards a prominent noticeboard some 40 yards away. Go through a metal kissing gate to the left of the noticeboard along a path which skirts the reservoir on your right. Pass another kissing gate and then a metal gate to emerge on the top of the dam by a house. (8.35 miles, 2 hrs 55 mins, SN 66204/05881).
Turn right across the dam, then after a few yards, left down the tarmac lane with its white lines. Follow this back to pass the point where you left it earlier, cross the cattle grid, and 100 yards after re-entering woodland turn right through a wooden kissing gate, drop down some stone steps to a picnic area, cross a wooden bridge and take the path with the Lower reservoir on your left. At the end, cross the dam to return to the car park. (10.7 miles, 3 hrs 40 mins).
Map of walks