A Walk Around Caban Coch

Caban Coch is the first reservoir you come to when entering the Elan Valley estate from the east. The dam wall towers above the Elan Valley Visitors Centre which is easily accessible on foot from Elan Oaks campsite. A walk around the dam takes roughly four hours, here is an idea of where to go and what you will see on this stunning walk...

Setting off on foot from the entrance to Elan Oaks, head west on the footpath towards the Elan Valley visitors centre. This is a very short distance which only takes 5 to 10 minutes.

You will reach the entrance to the Elan Valley Visitors Centre which is clearly sign-posted. From here, make your way down the roadside towards the car park, passing by the bridge to the Elan village on your left.

By now the Caban Coch dam wall will be in sight. Pass by the visitor centre and follow the path to the bridge at the foot of the dam.

The bridge provides a great photo opportunity to capture the face of the dam wall or adversely shooting back down river towards the Visitors Centre.

Cross the footbridge to the other side of the river where you will find a foot path that climbs up the side of the dam wall. This is a fairly steep section, but it can be climbed rather easily by using the steps along the pathway.

Once at the top of the dam wall you will have a spectacular view across the reservoir. There is a picnic bench to stop and catch your breath after the climb.

The views across the dam and down the valley are also pretty impressive.

From here you can keep heading west along the side of the reservoir. The path runs right along side the water for a short distance and is fairly rough underfoot so good footwear is advisable. 

After a few minutes the path heads upwards via a set of steps that lead to a gate whereupon it continues in to the wooded area that overlooks the reservoir.

There is a great variety of interesting trees along this section of the walk, all of them providing welcome shade on a hot summer day. 

As you climb up into the woodland the views across the reservoir reveal some fantastic sights.

Moving along the trail to a gate, the path then leads to the Nant Y Gro dam which was used in the 1940's for demolition experiments to develop the famous 'Dam Busters' bouncing bombs, which attacked targets in Nazi Germany during the second world war. There is an information post half way up the track that overlooks the old dam.

From Nant Y Gro, continue up the path following the stream. This is a fairly steep incline and the beginning of the more strenuous section of the walk.

Follow the path until you reach a series of small waterfalls. At this point you can continue up the path to the crest of the hill where you can cross the stream or you can cross here by navigating a few rocks and heading for the fence on the far side to continue uphill.

On the other side of the stream there is another steep hill to climb following the fence up to the cattle gate. 

Passing through the gate, continue to follow the fence along the top of the hill until you begin to see the unfinished dam Dol-y-Mynach through the trees.

From here the view opens up to reveal the Garreg Ddu reservoir and Foel tower to the right and a view towards the Claerwen valley on the left.

You can now descend into the woodland finding your way to the path that leads down towards Dol-y-Mynach.

The path then leads to several meadows which make ideal spots for a rest or picnic.

The views towards the Claerwen Valley reveal some idyllic Welsh topography that has remained largely unchanged for hundreds of years.

You will eventually arrive at a ford which leads to a few dwellings and a farm that lead to a small bridge where you can cross to the other side of Dol-y-Mynach and the road leading back towards Nantgwyllt Church.

The road skirts around the other side of Dol-y-Mynach and Caban Coch and is sheltered by trees on either side of the road. You can find a bird hide at the Dol-y-Mynach nature reserve which is home to a variety of different species. Ideal for a bit of bird-spotting or photography.

Following the road, you will eventually arrive at Nantgwyllt Church which over looks Garreg Ddu and Foel Tower.

You can then cross the dam to the far side and join the path on your right which will skirt around Caban Coch and lead back to the Visitors Centre.

From here you can meander back to Elan Oaks having completed a full circuit of the Caban Coch reservoir.

Be sure to take lots of liquid with you and on a hot day you will need to apply sunblock as several sections of the walk are exposed. It is also advised that you wear appropriate footwear as several sections of the path are a little bit rough underfoot. Those taking dogs with them on the walk will need to keep your pooch on a lead as there are lots of sheep roaming the hills.

Elan Oaks
Elan Valley,
Rhayader,
LD6 5HP
Phone: +44(0)1597 810 326