Llyn Vyrnwy: 100 Things to do in Wales Number 13

After being blown about at the top of Bwlch y Groes we followed the narrow winding road down to Llyn Vyrnwy. Life must have been tough up here before modern conveniences, and I image it still would be. I would not envy anyone farming up this high on such marginal lands. The only option is sheep. As we weaved our way down we passed a number of abandoned farms, and the water was cascading down the sides of the valley everywhere.

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During the 19th century the large industrial towns across the border in England were experiencing water shortages for the expanding factories and populations. The demand for clean water was a political imperative. The high rain fall in Wales, coupled with the geology and geography of the valleys made the area in Mid Wales a prime location for building large damns to serve the needs of the cities.

In order to create the reservoir Liverpool had to purchase about ten farms and the village of Llanwddyn. A place called Llanwddyn exists today, just below the dam. It comprises some of the houses into which residents of the original village were moved. The old village, however, lay at OS SH998213, a couple of hundred yards south of the point where the river Cedig now enters the lake. The village consisted of a church and two chapels, three pubs, at least two shops, one of which contained a post office, and about 37 houses.

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According to Wikipedia the reservoir is Severn Trent Water’s largest. When full, it is 26 metres (84 ft) deep, contains 59.7 gigalitres (13.125×109 imp gal), and covers an area of 1,121 acres (4.54 km2), the equivalent of around 600 football pitches (always a good unit of measurement). The lake has a circumference of 11 miles (18 km) with a road that goes all the way around it. Its length is 4.75 miles (7.64 km). On a clear day the lake, along with many others in North Wales, can be seen from space.

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The main task during this 100 Challenge was to take a photograph of the straining tower which is sited 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) from the dam wall. Standing only 30 metres (98 ft) from the shore, its purpose is to filter or strain out material in the water with a fine metal mesh, before the water flows along the aqueduct to Liverpool. In typical Victorian over design, the Gothic style tower does make quite a sight when the sun hits it. The tower as a whole is 63 metres (207 ft) tall, 15 metres (49 ft) of which is underwater.

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By the time we had got here it was lunch time and so we stopped off at the Llyn Vyrnwy Hotel for cawl and a superb view of the lake from our
table.

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As we were slurping our way through the cawl a Royal Navy Helicopter flew along the length of the lake. As we were leaving we started talking to the pilots who had dropped in for a break. Not too sure what the Royal Navy was doing so far from the sea though. And of course while they were in the hotel we snuck out and took a selfie like little children. You’d have thought that Aunty and my big sister would have behaved better.

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