This spectacular trail climbs past three reservoirs in the heart of beautiful, mountainous Mid Wales following the line of the old Birmingham Corporation Railway, which was built to help construct the Elan Valley reservoirs. These were built between 1892 and 1904 and during the busiest period, more than 5000 men were employed. The reservoirs were created to supply Birmingham and the water travels 73 miles by pipeline to reach its destination.
The reservoirs are a string of four narrow lakes running north-south. You can learn more about the construction of the reservoirs at the Visitor Centre (which also has a cafe).
The ride climbs 165ft from the Elan Valley Visitor Centre past Caban Coch and Garreg Ddu Reservoirs with their fine dams and an ornamental water tower, to the end of Penygarreg Reservoir leaving you with a very fine descent back to the start. When the reservoirs are full you will be rewarded with the sight of millions of gallons of water cascading over the dam walls.
The tunnel near to Rhayader is a nature reserve for rare bats. The trail is also right in the heart of Red Kite country so be prepared to see these magnificent birds with their distinctive forked tail wheeling in the thermals above you.
The section of Route 81 passing through Devil's Gulch in the Elan Valley is temporarily closed due to a landslide. Dwr Cymru Welsh Water is assessing the possibility of a diversion.
We have taken all responsible steps to ensure that these routes are safe and achievable by people with a reasonable level of fitness.
However, all outdoor activities involve a degree of risk. To the extent permitted by law, Sustrans accepts no responsibility for any accidents or injury resulting from following these routes.
Walking and cycling routes change over time. Weather conditions may also affect path surfaces.
Please use your own judgement when using the routes based upon the weather and the ability, experience and confidence levels of those in your group.