Whether you want to explore peaceful meres or marvel at awe-inspiring dams, these waterside walks are a great way to spend an afternoon
In 1893, a colossal project got underway to dam up the Elan and Claerwen valleys in Mid Wales to provide water for the people of Birmingham, some 70 miles to the east. It would involve creating five lakes and six dams, built by the hardy hands of 50,000 men.
More than 100 years later, the scheme has become quite an attraction due to the impressive nature of the dams and the calm beauty of the lakes with the wild, bare hills behind. Our first walk circumnavigates Penygarreg Reservoir, the third of four lakes up the Elan Valley. It includes arguably the most scenic dam – Craig Goch, with its impressive archways and domed tower – as well as Pen y Garreg Dam, which isn’t normally visible above the surface of the water, apart from the tower in the middle of the structure.
Walk two takes us to the north Shropshire town of Ellesmere. The story of the lakes found here goes back much further: 18,000 years ago to the last ice age. When the ice retreated, it left behind shallow hollows which filled with water.
There are nine meres in the area. The largest is simply called The Mere, and is surrounded by parks and woodland. Our walk takes us along its shores and along the nearby Llangollen Canal – another key attraction in this scenic neck of the woods.
ROUTE 1: Explore this stunning reservoir in the heart of the Elan Valley
ROUTE 2: Canal and mere combine for a wonderfully watery wander