Elan Valley 2010

A cycle ride around the reservoirs of Mid Wales.

This was a bike ride along the Elan Valley Trail. Given the immaculate weather, the bike ride quickly turned into a photography trip. The valley is a popular tourist destination - a wild and virtually uninhabited part of Mid Wales. It is erroneously known as "Welsh Lake District", due to the large expanses of water that cover virtually the entire main valley. However, they are all reservoirs. There are no significant natural lakes at all in the valley, or its branches. While it is a shame that such a beautiful and wild valley has been modified to such an extent, the reservoirs do present their own beauty and sense of impressive industry.

The first 6 reservoirs were created as a massive project lasting for 10 years around 1900. The first of them was destroyed in 1942, and a much larger one was then added around 1950. 5 of the reservoirs serve Birmingham (118 km away) through an impressive gravity-fed aquaduct, and are also used as a source of hydro-electricity. The others will be described later. Being virtually uninhabited at the time of construction, there was very little local opposition to the project - one of the flooded wooden buildings was actually floated to a dry location so it could continue to serve the community. The area became an immediate attraction, with the moorland becoming a very early example of open access land, dating back to 1892.