|An illustrated guide to fishing, walking, wildlife conservation and other attractions in and around the Brecon Beacons National Park, South Wales, the country of the Red Kite|
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This is a most attractive stillwater of some 280 acres, situated over 1000 feet high in the hills of the Brecon Beacons (see Map 3). It is reached by a rather narrow road, which joins the main A40 Brecon to Llandovery road at Trecastle. The reservoir is only a few miles downstream of the source of the River Usk on the Black Mountain. Reputed to be one of the finest trout fisheries in Wales, the natural brown trout are supplemented by regular restocking of brown and rainbow trout. This is certainly one of the quietest places I have ever fished and the surrounding forests and splendid views of the mountains make for a very pleasant day indeed. A very good 9 kilometre walking/cycling track runs around the whole reservoir and you can also park your car near much of the fishing. The banks are firm and quite rocky in places. There is plenty of scope for fly fishing, especially at the Western end of the water, where it is the only permitted method. The fly fisherman may have some difficulty on a windy day, as this water seems particularly susceptible to strong winds. However, spinning and worming are also permitted in limited areas, although lead weights between 0.06g and 28.4g are prohibited.
Fishing from the dam is not allowed and an area to the West of the tower is also preserved for wildlife. Anglers are permitted to store and use their own boats at the reservoir by permission and a slipway is provided. Contact the Area Manager (Southern) on 01495 769281. Disabled anglers are well catered for. Day tickets (£17.00 in 2012) are available from the dispenser on site - bring plenty of £1 coins! Alternatively, you can buy your permit online from the excellent Wye & Usk Foundation web site. Spinning is popular in the deeper water, while regular reservoir lures and nymphs should do the trick elsewhere. Fishing for brown trout is permitted between the 20th March and 17th October, and for rainbow trout between the 27th February and 31st October. There is a six-fish limit and evening permits are also available. Fishing starts at 07.00 and closes between 18.30 and 21.00, depending on the time of year
The reservoir is situated in a remote and extremely sparsely populated part of Kite Country, where the sheep vastly outnumber people. On a fine day you could enjoy some excellent walking here away from the crowded trails of the main Brecon Beacons routes and it is definitely worth walking or cycling around the perimeter of the reservoir. The small market town of Llandovery, with its good craft shops and National Park Information Centre, is only some 8 or 9 miles away, on the River Towy (see Map 12). The road from Usk reservoir to Llandovery is extremely scenic and on a fine day you will have superb views of the Black Mountain and the Towy Valley.
From Llandovery it is only a short drive along the Eastern bank of the river to the small village of Bethlehem, where you will find signs to the remains of the massive Iron Age hill fort of Garn Goch. This is definitely worth seeing and you will find more details in my page on the early history of Kite Country.
For thrills of a different kind and some superb views of the whole Brecon Beacons range, drive back to the main A40 road at Trecastle, turn left and then right after a short distance to Llywel, past a small church. Continue uphill to the North and you will soon find yourself confronted with an assortment of warning signs and (possibly) red flags, for this is one of the British Army's main infantry training grounds that has been closed to the public since 1940. The ranges are spread over a massive area of some 35000 acres and have effectively created one of the largest wildlife reserves in the country. You can't always walk here without permission and you may get approached by a patrol if you stop for too long. If you want to know more about this area and its history, there is a nice little interpretaive centre up in the hills North of Brecon. Take the B4520 road out of Brecon to Upper Chapel, where you turn left on the B4519 towards Garth. You will find the centre (and a handy toilet) about one and a half miles further on.
Efforts were made to open this area to walkers, horse riders and mountain bikers and in October 2004 the first 10-mile section of what is now known as the Epynt Way, extending for some 50 miles around the military estate, was finally opened to walkers. The web site has detailed maps of the whole route, split into manageable chunks, as well as details of access routes and firing times. This is a brilliant place to spot Red Kite and other wildlife.
If the road is shut and the flags are flying you will have to return to the main road, otherwise you can continue along the small mountain road via Tirabad to the main A483 road at Llanwrtyd Wells (see Map 8), where you can go South-West back to the River Towy or North-East to the River Wye.
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