Elan Valley – Beautiful Lakes & Dramatic Dams

Visiting Elan Valley is one of our top recommendations if you’re happy to travel a little further from The Cottages. It is about 90 minutes away, but the drive itself is a very enjoyable part of the day. Elan Valley boasts 72 square miles of unspoilt nature and reservoirs. But it is the dams that make this such a unique place to spend a day.

Visitor Centre

When you arrive, head to the visitor centre where you can get a guide with maps of the estate. There is a gift shop, cafe and loos there and they often host exhibitions. You can pay for parking (£3.00) here, then you can park in any of the car parks around the Estate. You can also hire a mountain or E-bike from the visitor centre. Either book in advance through the website or on the day.

Which Way First?

There are several routes you can take to explore the estate. You will see Caban Coch Dam first as it is close to the Visitor Centre. Caban Coch was the first dam worked on and was designed to look like a waterfall when it overflows. The stone in the quarry nearby was used inside the dams. The facing stone was a sandstone brought up from the Vale of Glamorgan. 

Caban Coch Dam - Visiting Elan Valley

Claerwen Dam

We like to visit Claerwen Dam next. There is a large car park at the bottom of the dam (with toilets and picnic benches). There is also a smaller parking space at the top of the dam. It’s worth doing both – the dam is so dramatic from the bottom, but you get great views from the top.

The construction of the Claerwen Dam, the last of the dams in the district, took six years, using a workforce of 470. It was ceremonially declared open by the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth II in October 1952, in one of the first official engagements of her reign. There are walks that you can do here: More info on Claerwen

Garreg Ddu Dam

The submerged dam can only be seen at low reservoir levels. Garreg Ddu has two purposes: to hold back water to enter the Foel Tower, and to provide access to the Claerwen valley. The Foel Tower is where drinking water is extracted to start its three day journey to Birmingham. Drive across the bridge and there is a car park on the other side. Park here and there is a nice walk by the river and through woodland to the next dam – Pen y Garreg.

Visiting Elan Valley - Garreg Ddu

Pen y Garreg

Pen y Garreg is the smallest dam and reservoir. When full, it holds just over two weeks’ worth of water. The tower was built in the Birmingham Baroque style. This dam is unusual in that it houses an access tunnel to the central tower which is lit by apertures in the downstream side of the dam. This enables Pen y Garreg to be opened to the public on certain days of the year. The walk to Pen y Garreg from the car park at Garreg Ddu is steep in places, so do wear walking shoes or boots. You can drive to the top of the dam and view it from there if you don’t want to do the walk.

Pen y Garreg - Visiting Elan Valley Dams

Craig Goch

Craig Goch is the highest upstream of the series of dams in the Elan Valley and is often referred to as the ‘top dam.’ It is seen by many as the most attractive of the dams, with an elegantly curved retaining wall and a series of arches carrying a narrow roadway across the top of the dam. It has a domed valve tower and the structure is typical of the ‘Birmingham Baroque’ style of much of the waterworks scheme.

Craig Goch - Visiting Elan Valley, Mid Wales

Find Out More

The landscape is of national importance for the diversity of lower plants (mosses, liverworts and lichens) and the Estate is the most important area for land birds in Wales. It is covered by 12 separate Sites of Special Scientific Interest. 

The Estate has been awarded an International Dark Sky Park Award and it is filled with a wealth of nocturnal Wildlife which thrives under the very dark skies.

Elan Valley is good to visit all year round as the landscape changes with the seasons. Autumn is a particularly splendid time to go for the colours.

Find out more about visiting Elan Valley : Elan Valley Trust and Elan Valley Welsh Water.

Make sure your route back to the cottages takes you along the Mountain Road from Elan Valley to Devil’s Bridge – it is awesome.

Awesome Llyn Brianne & the Uk’s Tallest Dam

The drive from Coedmor Cottages to Llyn Brianne is a delight in itself. You want to take your time and savour the views as you enter the Cambrian Mountains. It is about 20 miles / 45 minutes from Coedmor Cottages.

Llyn Brianne views

There are a few places to stop and admire the views. This viewpoint is just off the Carreg Clochdy car park & picnic spot – the What3words address is ///hogs.raven.clinic
Not technically a Natural Wonder, the lake is actually a reservoir created in the late 1960’s/ early 70’s. The scenery is reminiscent of Canada or Scandinavia – just beautiful. 

Llyn Brianne Views
Llyn Brianne Roads

Fannog Farm – Fferm y Fannog

There is another small car park and picnic area at Fannog (what3words: ///self.crinkled.angel . In 2022 the water level was so low that we got to see Fferm y Fannog (Fannog Farm) which appears very rarely. This was an abandoned farm that was covered by the water when the reservoir was created. See a little Reel of Fferm y Fannog from our Instagram

Fannog Farm revealed, Fferm y Fannog, Llyn Brianne
Fannog Farm uncovered, Fferm y Fannog, Llyn Brianne

Llyn Brianne Dam

Llyn Brianne - Cambrian Mountains

The dam at Llyn Brianne is the UK’s tallest at 91m (300 ft). You can walk across the top of the dam and see martins swooping below.There is a good track to walk around part of the lake from here. There is a big car park and toilets (which are sometimes open) – what3words: ///cuddled.villas.tinkle
The woodland here is famous for being one of the last places you can see Red Squirrels. You will also likely see Red Kites and Buzzards overhead.

Llyn Brianne - Cambrian Mountains Red Squirrels.
Llyn Brianne Dam - Cambrian Mountains

If you are keen on stargazing, the car park at Llyn Brianne is also a Dark Sky Discovery Site – part of the Cambrian Mountains Astro Trail.

Llyn Brianne - Cambrian Mountains

Heading Home from Llyn Brianne

The drive around the lake is a great way to take in the scenery and for an alternative route back to the cottages the road between Llyn Brianne and Tregaron is worth a detour for spectacular Cambrian Mountain views.

If you drive back towards Llandovery, you will come across the Towy Bridge Inn – right next to the bridge on the River Towy (where else would it be!) Pop in for a drink or some food (do check opening times beforehand as they can be limited to weekends). This route also takes you past RSPB Gwenffrwd-Dinas and through Rhandirmwyn valley which is just stunning.


If you are a keen cyclist, then the Big Wilderness Adventure takes in Llyn Brianne along the route. It is a 65 mile circular route that you can get onto just 5 minutes from our cottages. You can make it shorter by not going all the way to Llandovery!

Splendid Isolation in the Cambrian Mountains

Our romantic holiday cottages are located in the foothills of the Cambrian Mountains Area of Astounding Natural Beauty. You can even see the highest mountain – Pumlumon Fawr – in the distance from our meadows.

Cambrian Mountains - Pumlumon Fawr

The natural beauty of the plateaux, valleys and gorges of the Cambrian Mountains is equal to and often greater than some British national parks. Although distributed among three counties – Powys, Ceredigion & Carmarthenshire – the Cambrian Mountains are geographically one area, and form the main watershed of Wales. 

Cambrian Mountains

The rivers Severn, Wye, Elan, Irfon, Tywi, Cothi, Teifi, Ystwyth, Rheidol, and Twymyn all have their sources here. There are only a few roads across the mountains and they are acknowledged as some of the most scenic routes in Britain.

Cambrian Mountains - Hafod Estate
Hafod Estate
Cambrian Mountains - Abergwesyn Pass
Abergwesyn Pass

The walker is king in the Cambrian Mountains and you can find many routes online, such as the ones on Walking Britain. The landscape is vast, but not featureless. There are plenty of lakes and reservoirs that will make you feel like you could be in Canada! 

Cambrian Mountains - Llyn Clywedog
Llyn Clywedog

Interesting features like Strata Florida, The Teifi Pools, Vale of Rheidol Railway and Devil’s Bridge mean that you can easily spend a week or more exploring the area. 

Cambrian Mountains - Strata Florida
Strata Florida
Cambrian Mountains - Claerddu waterfall
Claerddu Waterfall, Teifi Pools
Cambrian Mountains - Vale of Rheidol Railway.
Vale of Rheidol Railway
Cambrian Mountains - Devil's Bridge
Devil’s Bridge

There are also amazing wildlife habitats like Cors Caron Nature Reserve which has great walking trails and is recognised internationally as an important wetland reserve.

Cambrian Mountains - Cors Caron
Cors Caron

And no visit to the Cambrian Mountain is complete without stopping off at the most remote phone box in the UK! You can even post letters from the post box there (we have seen the postie collecting mail from it). 😂 To find it, the What3words is ///campsites.guarding.brain

Cambrian Mountains - Phone Box

Of course, one of the outstanding features of the Cambrian Mountains is the Dark Skies. There are a number of Dark Sky Discovery Sites within easy reach of our cottages.

Cambrian Mountains Dark Skies stargazing

The Cambrian Mountains are such a special place and still relatively unknown. They are unspoilt and always quiet and peaceful – sometimes you will hardly see another soul all day! Don’t miss out on exploring this astoundingly beautiful area if you stay with us.

Best Things to do at Dinefwr National Trust

Visiting Dinefwr National Trust – a historic estate located in Carmarthenshire. Dinefwr is known for its grand mansion, extensive parkland, and rich history dating back many centuries. The estate encompasses Dinefwr Castle, Newton House, and a large area of parkland that has been designated as a National Nature Reserve. It is about a 40 minute scenic drive from Red Kite & Woodpecker Cottages. There is a large car park which is free to NT members or £5 for a full day for non-members. The easiest way to find it is with What3Words : Compelled : Trailer : Park

Newton House, Dinefwr, Carmarthenshire, National Trust

Newton House

A Georgian mansion that was built within the estate during the 17th century. It served as the home of the Rhys family, who were descendants of the Lord Rhys. The mansion is a prime example of Georgian architecture and is surrounded by beautiful gardens. It is open to the public and offers visitors a glimpse into the estate’s history. Entry to the house is currently £9 per adult for non NT members.

Dinefwr Signpost © Coedmor Cottages

There is so much to do at Dinefwr. You can explore the castle ruins, tour Newton House, enjoy walks through the parkland, and appreciate the stunning views of the surrounding countryside. The estate offers a combination of history, architecture and nature.

Dinefwr Castle, Carmarthenshire, Days Out, National Trust

Dinefwr Castle

A medieval fortress that sits on top of a hill overlooking the River Tywi. It has a strategic location that allowed its occupants to control and monitor the surrounding landscape. The castle has a long history, with its origins dating back to the early 12th century. Over the years, it was the seat of the Lord Rhys, a powerful Welsh prince, and played a significant role in Welsh history during periods of conflict with the English. You can visit the castle for free and the views over the Tywi Valley are stunning.

Views from Dinefwr Castle of the Tywi Valley © Coedmor Cottages

Parkland and Nature Reserve

The parkland surrounding Dinefwr is known for its natural beauty and diverse wildlife. The estate’s landscape includes woodlands, meadows, and the picturesque Dinefwr Deer Park. The park is home to a herd of fallow deer that roam freely, adding to the scenic charm of the area. The estate’s parkland has been designated as a National Nature Reserve, emphasising its ecological importance.

The walks around the estate are beautiful in all seasons. Late spring is especially lovely when the bluebells are out.

Bluebell time at Dinefwr Estate. © Coedmor Cottages
Dinefwr Map

Here’s a handy map showing all the different areas. There are plenty of picnic areas scattered through the estate and also a cafe for refreshments. You can definitely spend a whole day exploring! Find out more on the NT website: National Trust Dinefwr

Photos 1,2,4,6,7, 9 & 12 – © Hawlfraint y Goron / © Crown copyright (2023) Cymru Wales. All other photographs © Coedmor Cottages.

Coed y Foel Woodland Walks

We took a drive out to Coed Y Foel Woodland Nature Reserve a couple of days ago for a walk (about 25 minutes from the cottages). It’s a really beautiful woodland and is a mixture of established broadleaf forest with a more open “nursery woodland”. 

There is a small car park with a few more spaces out on the quiet road.

The older part of the forest is mostly oak and the newly planted part is a mix of hazel, alder and other native species.

There is a pretty steam running through the valley – Ziggy enjoys a cooling dip there. 

It’s a moderately challenging walk but very peaceful and quiet and there are several circular routes you can take to make it more or less challenging. At this time of year there are lots of bilberries to snack on as you walk too!

There are information boards to show you the trails and the route is way marked (although not clearly in some places).

Here’s a little Reel I made for Instagram 😊

See more of our Instagram Reels here:


Great Summer Walks in Long Wood Community Woodland

Long Wood Community Woodland is just 10 minutes away from Coedmor Cottages in Llanfair Clydogau.

there are 325 acres of woodland which is being managed by the local community. The aim is to restore the non-native plantation areas of the woods to native broadleaved species whilst managing the woodlands as a  community resource.

It is so peaceful and often we are the only ones there when we visit. The views of the Cambrian Mountains are just stunning on a clear day.

The main track through the woods goes all the way to Lampeter if you fancy a proper walk.

Find out more on the website: Long Wood Community Woodland