How to get there by bus
From Hereford catch the Sargeants bus into Llandrindod Wells. From Llandrindod Wells catch the X47 bus to Rhayader. Catch a taxi from here to the Elan Village, Visitor Centre or even the Claerwen Reservoir car park. You can walk but it’s a fair few miles. From Rhayader same as above. From Cardiff or the South catch the T4 into Llandrindod Wells – to get to Rhayader and Elan Village/Visitor Centre same as above. From the North/Shrewsbury catch the X75 to Llangurig then the X47 to Rhayader. To get to the Claerwen Reservoir same as above.
The River Irfon from the Abergwesyn Valley on the other side of the mountain is awesome to walk also. To get there via bus from Hereford same as above to Llandridnod Wells using Sargeants. From there catch the 48 to Builth Wells, which will take you on through to Llanwrtyd Wells. From here either walk into the Abergwesyn Valley, which we have done or order a taxi.
How to get there by car
From the Midlands/Hereford take the A480 into Kington, then onto the A44 into Rhayader. Via the B4518 take the road to the Claerwen Reservoir car park. From Cardiff or the South take the A470 to Brecon. From Brecon take the B4520 into Builth Wells. From Builth take the A470 into Rhayader. To the Claerwen Reservoir car park same as above. From the North Wrexham take the A483 to Newtown. From Newtown take the A489 onto the A470 into Rhayader. To the Claerwen Reservoir car park same as above. From Shrewsbury take the A458 onto the A483 Newtown, then onto the A489 for a short distance before the A470 to Rhayader passing through Llanidloes and Llangurig. To the Claerwen Reservoir car park same as above.
The River Irfon fromthe Abergwesyn Valley is awesome to walk or drive. To get there
As a right bank tributary of the Wye the Irfon is in a spectacular setting surrounded by the rugged Cambrian Mountains in Powys Wales. It's 28 miles long approximately and flows South off Bryn Garw at 558 meters. As it gains pace the river passes through the majestic Abergwesyn Valley before reaching Llanwrtyd Wells the home of the World Alternative Games and the World Bog Snorkelling Championships. What with the Elan Valley, the first mountain bike centre in Wales at Coed Trallwm nearby, ancient woodland, fantastic mountain walks and Great wild camping the area is an outdoors mecca.
River Irfon. Photo Location Click
Click to enlarge
Join us in this feature length video in what was a fabulous adventure in the Cambrian Mountains. We bothy in a toilet to start the hike, we meet with a friendly man who makes us breakfast, we ascend the Cambrian Mountains through a day long bog odyssey, we fall in holes, enjoy, cuss slightly but not often, we meet with former travellers, stay with Bog Snorkelling organizers, camp amid mountains and river valley finally meeting with its confluence with the Wye at Builth Wells.
Besides the makeshift bothy, the Abergwesyn and Lower Irfon camps we employed Cerdyn Villa, which is Set just on the edge of llanwrtyd Wells nearby the train station that runs from Swansea all the way through to Shrewsbury.
The BandB is very interesting and hosted by Berni and John two friendly hosts with a thirst for life and the whacky.
Traditional rooms feature local artwork, free WiFI, TVs, DVD players, and tea and coffeemaking facilities, plus minifridges and en suite bathrooms with showers. A private annexe adds an extra bedroom, a full kitchen and a sitting room with a sofa bed.
Daily cooked breakfast is served in a cosy breakfast room. Guests also have access to a lounge and garden. We recommend it.
The source is wild, remote and majestic in its own right what with the plateaus of the desert of Wales visible for miles around. Here the Irfon emerges, not out of seepage as such, but through the sheer volume of water that settles on top in vast bogs. Gravity takes over as it carves out a small channel beside the huge plantation atop Bryn Garw at 558 meters.
Claerwen Reservoir marks your start point having perhaps hiked or driven from Elan Village further downstream of the Afon Claerwen another Wye tributary all be it diluted via the series of reservoirs that feed Birmingham. Here there is a car park and public loo.
Setting off cross the bridge at the Claerwen Farm at its base and head up Afon Arban Valley. This opens out into a space filled view of your objective ahead. It's....
Pick your way up enjoying the space as you go. You are surrounded by steep slopes, some waterfalls, the sound of water itself, Skylarks, the colours of heather moorland and often Kite circling up above. The place is an important wildlife habitat and it's there for you to enjoy.
After 2.5 Km, be aware of the main channel, which is now melding into the peat bog and moorland on top. You can identify it through your gaze as it bears right or South West as you look at it. Follow it and it will bring you to the top where the plantation resides. There you will find bog number 1. It's unmistakable full of water as it is and at the very tip of the Easterly side of the plantation, which is now felled. Continue on a few hundred meters because it's bog number 2 beside the fence you want. This is the Irfon trickling beneath the fence towards the majestic Abergwesyn Valley. How you get down is your choice. Map Link to Source.
liberating and quiet.
As you traverse the river to your left you can pick up one or two trails although for the most part it's fairly mixed with tussock grass, bog and Cambrian rock that juts out every now and then. The hard work is yet to come as you cross the river 1KM ahead to follow Nant Y Lau practically all the way to the source of the Irfon. Here be prepared for deep grass, bog and a mossy ascent punctuated by brief clear ground that provide respite from the challenges of this watershed.
We camped on this river course on two occasions. The first was at Charlies farm Llanerch Yrfa at the heart of the Abergwesyn Valley. Most appeared former travellers, which we were not unaccustomed to. They were very kind and more than happy to offer a pitch. See Map Link and photo above.
The second camp was a stealth camp beside a holiday camp and required us to pitch last thing and dismantle fairly early. Having said this, signs indicated there were no livestock (grass long) and no fresh tracks. This meant the land owner would most likely not be doing his rounds. The camping code still applied however as we kept it tidy and left no trace.
Our food at camp was supplied by Base Camp Food. See Link to Base Camp Food above left.
What is Wolfs Leap? It's where the last wolf in Wales was reputedly seen leaping the Irfon Gorge in the 16th century. Click image right also.
Video 2 Click
Wolfs Leap. Main Photo Location Click
Mountain or Region: Cambrian Mountains
Authority/District: Powys Wales
Length of River: 45 KM or 28 Miles Aprox from source to Wye.
Other Wye Rivers in the Area: River Elan
Highest Wye peaks in the area: Bryn Garw 558 Meters 1,830 Ft (source) Drygarn Fawr 645 Meters, Y Gamriw 604 Meters, Drum Ddu 538 Meters & Carnau 537 Meters
Source Grid Ref: SN 838610
The walk up to source will take you over open access land that is tough going for the novice as it is mostly bog and deep elephant grass. It is invigorating! Around the area their are many trails onto the awesome plateaus. See Maps below.
Maps Sheet Finder
Ordnance Survey 1.25,000 Sheet Map 200
Anquet 1.25,000 Digital Map 200