Monday, 7 January 2013

Elan Valley & Claerddu Bothy

I have been eyeing up a trip to this bothy for some time now, so over the weekend two friends Mitch & Richard and I headed over to Mid Wales to spend a night in what can only be described as pure bothy luxury, it was more like a bunkhouse and judging by all the DofE graffiti on the walls I think it gets used to that effect on a regular basis. It even had a flushing toilet!! I was slightly disappointed that it didn’t have a shower, only joking of course. It really was a superb bothy and very well maintained by the Elan Valley Trust, top marks to them. This was my first bothy stay and has now set a very high standard for future bothy trips.

The drive over to Claerwen Reservoir from Oxfordshire was an enjoyable one passing some beautiful scenery along the A44 to Rhayader. We parked the car at the foot of Claerwen dam at around 2:00pm; this really is a stunning part of Wales, even in January lush green valley’s branching off in different directions. The dam itself is an impressive structure it was built between 1946 and 1952 and stands at 184ft high and is 1,165ft in length. Our walk to the bothy followed the track which snakes around the many inlets on the northern shore of the reservoir; this basically is a pot holed track, 2km into the walk we passed what proved to be the last people we would see until our return to the car park the following day.

Beyond the reservoir we had to cross a ford, Richard gingerly crossed safely, me next I put my foot on the first stone and almost immediately it slipped straight off into water… great!!! So I just continued and strode across to the other side, I need not have worried as a combination of my boots and gaiters I stayed dry, phew!! The light was now starting to fade as we reached the point on the track when it was time to take a bearing and head to the bothy across the tussock strewn terrain. All three of us going shin deep at one point on this short stretch. The welcome sight of the bothy came into view and even more welcome was it looked and in fact was empty. We reached the bothy door with almost military precision as the last embers of light faded away shortly after.
Oh come on really??

We explored the bothy and couldn’t believe our luck we had certainly hit the bothy jackpot with this one. As already mentioned a flushing toilet, running water in the kitchen, log store, plenty of sleeping space. Well I think I will leave it there if you want to know more I recommend a visit.

A very enjoyable evening was spent in front of the fire, chatting away with a bottle of wine, Crabbies and hip flask of brandy. For a brief time the sky cleared and being in Mid Wales with no light pollution the night sky was a magnificent sight stars everywhere and the milky way easily seen by the naked eye, sadly this did not last long as the mist and drizzle soon enveloped the area and it stayed like this all night. Thankfully we were inside sitting around the warm glow of the open fire, laughing and joking.

By the time we got up the drizzle had stopped but the mist and low cloud was still hanging around, giving poor visibility. After breakfast we packed up tidied the bothy and left heading for Llyn Egnant we reached the dam at the southern foot of the lake. Our original plan was to have an explore around the Teifi pools then head over untracked terrain past Llyn Gynon to the cairn on Crug Gynon we would then follow the path across Esgair Garthen on the southern side of Claerwen reservoir back to the car park. However with the visibility not great and we didn’t fancy trudging off path across very boggy and tussocky ground so we decided to just head back to Claerwen Farm via the clear bridleway on the map. Mmmmm clear bridleway indeed! We may as well of just stayed with our original plan as this has to be the most undefined bridleway in Britain!! In the end we did actually go across very boggy and tussocky ground following a non-existent bridleway. Eventually with the mist clearing Claerwen Farm came into view and as it did so did a faint path. Looking back on this section of our walk on Richards GPS we zigzagged along what was supposed to be the path crossing it several times, so be careful when navigating around this area especially in the fog as don’t take for granted the paths / bridleways are easily visible as they are not.

Once back at the farm we retraced our route in along the track by the reservoir back to the car park, stopping briefly for Mitch to have a dip in the freezing waters…. Loony!!


  1. Hi Phil

    Claerddu Bothy is a cracking bothy, shame about the trudge around the reservoir to get there, its a plod, but maybe a better options than the tussocks lol.

    Another bothy in the area worth a visit is moel prysgau, we walked there from Clearwen dam,Setting off late we arrived just after dark and i have never been so happy to see a bothy lol, 90% of the entries in the log book complained about tussocks lol. with some just saying one word "TUSSOCKS"

    its a brilliant bothy as well, just without the mod cons of Claerddu.

    p.s did all the gas appliances still work in

  2. Hi Cozy, Thanks for the comment. The bothy was superb as I said pure bothy luxury. Yeah that trudge around the reservoir killed my feet.
    I know about Moel Prysgau it is on my hit list. I think the gas would have still worked if we could have figured out were the lintels where. Plenty of food in there though including the largest tin of beans I have ever seen, obviously for the DofE kids.