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Talybont Reservoir

At 318 acres this is the largest stillwater in the central Brecon Beacons and is situated in a deep, heavily forested valley a few miles South of the village of Talybont on Usk (see Map 9). It is most easily reached from that village via a narrow, unclassified road. Alternatively, you can enjoy a very pleasant drive across the hills from Merthyr Tydfil, via Ponsticill and Dol y Gaer Reservoirs. Although large, Talybont is retained as a wilderness fishery and contains a population of wild trout that are carefully supplemented by restocking with brown trout only. Fly fishing is the only permitted method and six fish may be taken in one day. Small imitative patterns are recommended. There are no evening tickets. No fishing is permitted from the dam at the Northern end, although you can walk across it to reach the other shore. Boats are not permitted.

The season extends from 20th March to 17th October and you can fish from 07.30 to 22.00, depending on the time of year. Tickets (£12.00 in 2012) can be obtained from the automatic dispenser at filter works just below the dam (bring plenty of 1 coins). Alternatively, you can purchase your permit online from the excellent Wye & Usk Foundation web site. The Southern end at the feeder stream is a popular spot, although if, like me, you are quite short and light, you might not enjoy fighting your way through very thick mud to reach it. During the last hours of daylight on a warm Summer's evening the Eastern and Western shores of this water are some of my favourite places in Kite Country. Fishing on Talybont is free to members of the excellent Merthyr Tydfil Angling Association. Surprisingly, you might often find yourself completely alone here on a water that is some 2 miles long. The mountain views are fabulous and you will also see a great variety of birds - keep looking for that Red Kite!

Other Attractions

One of the main alternatives to fishing is, of course, walking, as in the rest of the Brecon Beacons National Park. There are countless trails to be followed from this valley. For one of my favourites take the small road South from the reservoir towards Merthyr until the road crosses an old stone bridge across a small stream. Park in one of the two car parks on the other side of the bridge and then return to the bridge and cross the stile. Make sure that you follow the path uphill to the right of the stream, as this will give you the best views of the several waterfalls to come. This is an easy path to follow, although you will need to pick your way up and around a few rocky patches. When you get to the wooden bridge across the stream after about half a mile you will see the best waterfall of all. This is a great place for a picnic, or even a swim in very hot weather, although you will not be the only person there. To return to your car, cross the bridge and take the easy path back down. Alternatively, carry on up the steep path to the right of the waterfall into the open hillside beyond. From here you can access almost all of the classic routes through the central Brecon Beacons. However, make sure that you carry adequate protective clothing and provisions and that you have a good map. The large scale ones supplied by Ordnance Survey are recommended. In poor weather the mountains up here can be dangerous and you should not walk unprepared or alone at those times.

The village of Talybont on Usk is very popular with visitors and there are many attractive holiday cottages here that can be rented for different periods. There are three good pubs in the main road, where you can also get very reasonably priced meals. One of the main attractions in the village is the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal, on which it is possible to hire boats locally. Please see my page on the River Usk for further information.

From Talybont you can also enjoy a walk along the recently-restored footpath along some 10 miles of the former Brinore Tramroad, which linked the canal at Talybont with coal and limestone works at Tredegar to the South between 1815 and 1865. This is a nice easy path with gentle gradients and fine views over the valley.

There is also another lovely old pub in the village of Pencelli (pronounced "penkechly", or thereabouts!) just to the West of Talybont village. Slightly further West, the most attractive White Swan inn at Llanfrynach serves excellent food, which you can either enjoy in front of a roaring fire inside during the colder months or in the garden outside during the Summer (see Map 2).

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Talybont Reservoir from the dam
Talybont Reservoir
Talybont on Usk from Mynydd Llangorse
View from Mynydd Llangorse