Wild Wales – Daniel Start – Guest Blog

Posted on in guest blog, guided adventures, hay on wye, racquety farm, river wye, Wales
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Looking ahead to safer, warmer days to come . . .

Dan has been a pal of ours for yonks – he writes and publishes the MOST useful books for adventuring types, sort of like an underground lonely-planet for the cool kids. His heart is in Wales having grown up right here in the Wye Valley so many books in his well established range of publications heavily feature or are based in Wales.

His other passion is water and getting wet! Probably his most notable publication is Wild Swimming – check it out here – http://www.wildthingspublishing.com/product/wild-swimming/

In an attempt to look ahead to a safer time when we can all get out and about and enjoy some nature in the sun, Dan has furnished us with his top seven swims right here in the Wye Valley and Brecon Beacons – some much needed inspiration and optimism during these short, dark, cold pandemic days.

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Daniels' favourite swims . . .


PEN-DDÔL ROCKS, RIVER WYE An exciting stretch of the Wye, narrowing through rocky cliffs near Builth Wells. Upstream the water is deeper, passing through a small gorge with rock formations. Downstream find safe, white-sand bays. A mile N of Builth Wells on A470 find small layby on L directly opp entrance to Penmaenau Caravan Park, just before LD2 3RD. Stile in fence in layby leads down steep bank to rapids. 2 mins, 52.1613, -3.4195

THE WARREN, HAY-ON-WYE A deservedly popular stretch of meadow owned by the community. There’s a long,white shingle beach, shaded by trees, a pool and shallows below the rapids and deeper section above. A beautiful setting. In Hay turn opp the Swan Hotel (HR3 5DQ), past St Mary’s Church. After 500m, drive/walk down bumpy track R to car park at bottom. Or walk upstream from Hay 10 mins; footpath at end of Wyeford Rd (HR3 5BJ). 3 mins, 52.0761, -3.1369

WANT TO CANOE? HAY-ON-WYE Our friends Aubrey and Clare run the best place to rent a canoe on the Wye, at Racquety Farm (see listing). They’ll make drop-offs and pick-ups for half- or full-day or overnight trips, and guided trips can be arranged. On L immediately after crossing bridge from Hay-on-Wye, on Bridge St/B4351, HR3 5RS, 01497 820604. 2 min, 52.0761, -3.1294

EYTON, RIVER LUGG Discover over a mile of secluded deep pools and beaches, weirs and footbridges, with shallows meandering through open pasture and little wooded glades. Very pretty and rarely visited. B4361 N from Leominster, turn L signed Eyton/Lucton after a mile. Then L dir HR6 0AQ, signed Aston/Lucton, after another mile (park on verge here). Find double steel gates on L after ⅓ mile, before first house (no footpath sign, but it is) and follow track 400m, bearing R at end, towards to river, bridge and weir 400m. Cross bridge and head downstream for deeper sections and second weir. 15 mins, 52.2474, -2.7849


SCWD DDWLI & HORSESHOE FALLS The graceful arc and large pool of Ddwli on the Nedd Fechan is probably the quickest waterfall swim to reach. Further on, Horseshoe Falls is also great fun and has a big, deep jump. Entering Pontneddfechan from B4242, followroad up L at the Dinas Inn 1¾ miles, then L dir SA11 5UR, to find Pont Melin-fach bridge and car park on L after ¾ mile. Walk downstream ¼ mile for Upper Ddwli. It’s another lovely ¾ mile on to Horseshoe Falls (51.7720, -3.5949) or 1¼ to Lady Falls (see listing). 5 mins, 51.7771, -3.5876

LLYN CWM LLWCH & CORN DU High in the beautiful Cwm Llwch valley, a remote tarn with a gently shelving shore and superb view. A good approach to the summit ridge of Corn Du and Pen y Fan. From B4601 W approach into Brecon from A40, turn first R into Ffrwdgrech Rd and follow straight for about 3 miles, past LD3 8LD, to road-end Nant Cwm Llwch car park beyond gate. Continue 2 miles up the valley to the lake. 30 mins, 51.8878, -3.4516

LLANGYNIDR, RIVER USK Beautiful river section. Just upstream of the old bridge are deeper pools, shallower rapid sections and plenty of flat rocks for picnics. Downstream by a wooded crag is a large pool below a waterfall good for a jump, but this can be shady in the afternoon. There are more excellent and secluded pools downstream ¼ mile. The whole of the Usk has private fishing rights, so do not swim if fishermen present. Signed off A40 7½ miles SE of Brecon. Cross the bridge, turn R and park by post office café/shop. A path behind leads down to riverbanks. Downstream of bridge on same bank a path leads to the waterfall ½ mile (51.875, -3.2230). A mile further downstream is Dyfnant riverbank (51.8707, -3.2038), but also popular with fishermen. Just E of NP8 1PX cross the roadside canal bridge (good point for canal canoe access too) then turn L. 5 mins, 51.8749, -3.2349


TREGATE BRIDGE, RIVER MONNOW A quiet, wooded stretch of the Monnow flowing down to an old weir and bridge. Other deep pools, islands and beaches can be found up and downstream. Take turning next to Bell Inn/bridge at Skenfrith (see listing). Continue 2½ miles S dir NP25 5QG, then turn L to bridge (signed). Follow footpaths on far side. 5 mins, 51.8516, -2.7607


staycation inspiration

You’ll notice Dan kindly snuck the canoe yard onto his list – blush blush 😊 . . . but I’m sure you’ll agree, canoeing on a balmy summers day combined with a little dip of at least a toe is pretty dreamy

PLUS we’re very lucky to have a mention within in the glorious pages of the Wild Guide Wales http://www.wildthingspublishing.com/product/wild-guide-wales/ – if you’re toying with the idea of a staycation then  please consider Wales, I promise hand on heart we won’t disappoint 😉

Here’s a few of the team having a well earned after-work dip a few years back to get you in the mood

… stay safe ya’ll and roll on summer ☀️

  • Want to Canoe?
Want to Canoe?

2 thoughts on “Wild Wales – Daniel Start – Guest Blog

  1. In pandemic isolation your book shop and river location whet my appetite for canoeing and camping. I’m interested in an international exchange- several days here in Pennsylvania, canoe camping on a “wild” river (Delaware or West Branch of the Susquehanna) in exchange for several days on the Wye. I imagine a host couple or group would supply expedition canoes and all large gear (hard to fly a canoe across the ocean). Please post or share digitally with interested paddlers in your area. Thanks

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