The Dyfi Valley

General Description

I really ought to start by outlining the geology of the region, but this rapidly gets very complex; so, rather than put you off right at the begining, I've tucked it away behind this link.

The Dyfi rises in Craiglyn Dyfi, a lonely lake not much more than 200 yds across, situated in stark moorland 1897 ft above sea-level under the towering crags of Aran Fawddwy (2959 ft). Craiglyn Dyfi is only about 25 miles from the sea as the crow flies, although the river manages to add a few more miles to its length as it meanders its way along its lower reaches. On route to the sea it is joined by numerous tributaries, which form a total catchment area of about 200 sq miles.

This catchment area is very diverse and comprises a wide range of habitats: bald hilltops and treeless moorland; dark, silent firwoods and pretty upland oakwoods; rushing streams; the fertile river valley with green fields and hazel hedgerows; a magnificent bog - the "largest expanse of primary raised mire in the lowlands of Britain"; the estuary with its freshwater and saltmarshes; a superb dune system, sandy beaches, pebble beaches, rockpools, and the sea itself. Much of this is described at:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-countryside/ukmab/BRReport/dyfi.htm

The Dyfi National Nature Reserve was established in 1969 to protect the wildlife and their habitat from pressures of increased tourism and modern farming methods. The area is now managed by the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW). The area consists of the sand and mudflats of the Dyfi Estuary, Ynyslas sand dunes and the above-mentioned peat mire of Cors Fochno. There was a great deal of drainage reclamation work carried out in the area from as early as 1820, and again from 1945 to 1970, which produced major damage to the area and reduced the wetlands by about two-thirds.

See http://www.ccw.gov.uk for further details.

The character of the Northern section of the Dyfi Valley is much affected by afforestation. If you were to draw a line joining Machynlleth-Pennal-Corris-Aberllefenni-Dinas Mawddwy-Aberangell-Machynlleth, you'd circumscribe the Dyfi Forest, which takes up an area of about 6000 ha within this. Since the early days there has been an tremendous change in the way the forest is run, not only in terms of its core business - planting and harvesting trees - but also in the attitude to biodiversity, wildlife conservation and, perhaps most of all, to the public. There's an excellent official forestry web site, with a section entitled "Wild Woods at Dyfi" at:

http://www.forestry.gov.uk/website/wildwoods.nsf/LUWebDocsByKey/WalesGwyneddDyfi

and another section, called "Recreation at Dyfi" at:

http://www.forestry.gov.uk/website/Recreation.nsf/LUWebDocsByKey/WalesGwyneddDyfi, where you can find information about Dyfi Forest walks.

If you are interested in reading recollections of the early days of the Dyfi Forest, take a look at the series of "Stories of the Forest" at:

http://www.forestry.gov.uk/website/Oldsite.nsf/ByUnique/INFD-5FCF55

Sad to say, there are no major lakes associated with the Dyfi; picturesque Tal-y-Llyn - only about 5 miles distant - sits inconveniently the wrong side of an impressive ridge of hills (Tarren y Gesail) under the shadow of Cadair Idris, and it drains into another river system altogether. Similarly, the man-made Lake Vyrnwy, Llyn Clywedog and Nant-y-Moch reservoirs are within spitting distance of Dyfi but are entirely unconnected. Llyn Barfog (Bearded Lake) is only 1 mile from the river but it, too, is hidden from the Dyfi by a hill, and its waters wander off in the opposite direction. However, the mythology associated with Llyn Barfog is so strange that I've not been able to resist the temptation of including it further down these pages. There are in fact a number of minor lakes associated with the river Dyfi, which you can also read about elsewhere in this website.

There's plenty of evidence of early industry, especially slate quarrying and lead mining, and the whole area is littered with prehistoric cairns, standing stones, stone circles and enigmatic earthworks.

For anyone interested in old maps, there's an excellent Web Site which contains a fully navigable and immensely detailed 1891 map of Montgomeryshire. Well worth a look, but beware - it's addictive.

http://www.old-maps.co.uk  - just type in Machynlleth - or any village in the locality - and follow the instructions.

I've put together a few notes on ancient references to the river, and there's a great deal more history accessible via the clickable maps you can find elsewhere in this site.

The Weather!

West Wales's reputation for foul weather is not entirely justified, although I have to admit that there are days when the rain sets and in you really do need to give up on your planned day out on the hills or the beach. But more often than not it's fine, the air is clean and clear, and the sunsets over the Dyfi Estuary and Cardigan Bay are magnificent. There's a great website that has superb pictures of the (occasional) severe Dyfi Valley weather at http://www.geologywales.co.uk/storms. The author also includes a gallery of local landscapes and seascapes - well worth a look.

Outdoor Recreation

Bywiol-Dyfi-Active is a co-operative of activity-friendly accommodation and outdoor activity providers in the Dyfi Valley and Mid Wales area of the UK. These local experts have clustered together to promote activity tourism in this beautiful and historic region.http://www.dyfiactive.org.uk/index.html

Fishing has long been a major occupation in the area, and fishermen should read "A Tale of Two Rivers - Mawddach & Dyfi" - see my bibliography.

If you want to learn how to fly fish on the Dyfi - try http://www.dyfivalleyfishing.co.uk/ or http://www.sewincaster.co.uk/night-fishing/

And I've also included some background to fishing on the Dyfi.

It's a great area for walking and, in addition to countless miles of tracks and public footpaths, a number of long distance paths traverse the area:

http://v-g.me.uk/Trips/T0517/T0517.htm has information on the Dyfi Valley Way, a 108 mile walk from Aberdyfi to Aran Fawddwy and back to Borth, designed by Laurence Main, who lives in Dinas Mawddwy. (See "A Guide to Dyfi Valley Way" by Laurence Main, University of Wales Press; ISBN: 1900477009.) See also: http://www.ramblers.org.uk/info/paths/dyfivalley.html

http://www.walkingglyndwrsway.co.uk/ has details on Glyndwr’s Way, a 132 mile route through Mid-Wales which takes in part of the Dyfi Valley. See also: http://www.contours.co.uk/walking-holidays/glyndwrs-way.php

http://www.offroadadventures-online.com/rr043.html is a guide to mountain biking around the area.

Need country-style accommodation? Try:

www.wales-walking.co.uk - a site set up by an outfit called *Hillscape Walking Holidays*, which specialises in walking holidays from guesthouse accommodation. Their walks sound great, and their pictures of remote parts of the Dyfi area are excellent: I've provided links at strategic points elsewhere.

http://www.talbontdrain.co.uk - which sounds like the ideal place to get away from it all, just 4 miles from Machynlleth, on the back road to nowhere, in magnificent countryside.

http://www.lokalink.co.uk/machynlleth has a nice way of navigating your way through a succession of photographs of the area. It covers quite a large area of the lower Dyfi Valley.

http://www.cambrian-mountains.co.uk asks why the Cambrian Mountains aren't designated as a National Park, despite a bid for such status as far back as 1972. Click on the "Landscape" link to learn more. There are some glorious pics of the area that you can click on to get high definition versions.

www.snowdoniaguide.com provides a comprehensive guide to Snowdonia, its mountains, lakes, visitor attractions, historic buildings, towns and villages.

Business Links

Your obvious first stop must be the website of the Dyfi Eco Valley Partnership. This organisation has gone from strength to strength, and seem to be tireless campaigners for the good of the area. They define themselves as "The community regeneration group for the Dyfi Valley, with projects in waste, renewable energy, tourism, community planning, transport and more. Committed to strengthening the local economy through careful stewardship of natural and cultural resources. Managed by a Board of 17 local farmers, business people and other volunteers. Supported by the Welsh Development Agency". Their vision is "for the Dyfi valley to be a thriving bilingual community with a reputation for sustainability", and their web site is full of useful facts about the valley, in addition to containing plenty of information on their plans and activities.

Another site well worth a look at is at http://commfirstpowys.org.uk/broddyfi/, which explains itself through the statement "Communities First is a major, flagship Welsh Assembly Government programme... It is a long term programme that will run for at least ten years, and will allow local people themselves to decide what is needed, and help them to make it happen. Communities First aims to get local people involved in improving their areas, to bring in funding and other support from a range of sources, to encourage new ways of dealing with problems, and to involve everyone in working together to make their communities better places in which to live and work". Its Partnership Agreement states: "Working with a wide range of partners and in consultation with all sections of the community, the Partnership will provide leadership and coordination to promote the social, economic and environmental development of the Bro Ddyfi CF area".

http://www.dyfi.com takes you to a developing web site, but which promises to provide a service of introducing Dyfi Valley businesses. Entries for many of the villages are not yet in place, but it does now include a webcam page.

An excellent source of books, old and new, on fishing & field sports, is Coch-y-Bonddu Books of Machynlleth.

See more at: http://www.anglebooks.com/

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