Cerrigllwydion via Moses Trod

Craig Goch Reservoir

This is a very wild and desolate walk in the Elan Valley. The Elan Valley is a fantastic place for hill walking with peaceful reservoirs and huge and impressive dams flanked by hundreds of square miles of wild open country side. If there is one thing the valley is most famous for it is the stunning Red Kite. This impressive bird of prey is making a big comeback in Britain and it is here that you will be most likely to see this magnificent bird of prey in its natural habitat. This walk starts at the car park over the dam at the Craig Goch reservoir then heads to the top end of the reservoir before heading left onto the ancient road known as the Moses Trod. The ancient road ascends onto rough and wild land but is actually easy to follow as the rough old track is easy to use as a navigational tool. The track reaches the desolate Cerrigllwydion area where a disused farm building marks the spot above the beautiful lakes of Llyn Cerrigllwydion Isaf and Llyn Cerrigllwydion Uchaf. There are two small tops here that can be bagged and then the difficult descent route takes you across sometimes pathless terrain over the ridge behind and descends down Esgair Beddau to the Nant Cletwr which can be followed back to the reservoir road passing the old Lluest-aber-caethon farm across the valley.

Route Directions

  1. The walk starts at the Craig Goch reservoir car park. The car park is reached by crossing the road over the Criag Goch reservoir dam. The car park and facilities are on the other side of the dam at grid reference SN 894 686.
  2. To reach the Elan Valley and its many reservoirs head for the small historic market town of Rhayader in Mid Wales. From Rhayader head in a south westerly direction out of the town on the B4518 road.
  3. After passing Elan Vilage at the Caban Coch reservoir the road then follows the east side of the Garreg-ddu reservoir continuing up through the valley crossing the top of the reservoir and then heading up to the Penygarreg reservoir where it eventually reaches the Craig Goch dam which you need to drive across to get to the car park.
  4. On your way up through the valley keep your eyes open for Red Kites flying over the reservoirs. The car park has an interesting information board about the Elan Valley nature reserve and toilet facilities, plus if you are lucky you will experience the over friendly local Chaffinches.
  5. From the car park head back across the dam road. The huge and impressive Elan Valley dams and reservoirs were built to accomodate the increasing water requirements of the industrial Midlands cities of Birmingham and Wolverhampton. The whole valley is now an area of outstanding natural beauty and looked after by the companies who own the reservoirs.
  6. The dams were officially opened in 1904 by King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. The dam you cross here is the one at the highest point on the scheme and sends water a total of seventy five miles using its height advantage to get it there.
  7. Once over the dam turn right up the road. You need to follow the road for approximately four kilometres passing Hirnant to the far end of the reservoir.
  8. The fields on your right can often be full of bird life from Golden Plover to Curlew and the hills to your left often have Red Kite soaring above them. When you first see a Red Kite you will be in awe at the sheer size of these magnificent birds. They are easilly identified with there trademark V-shaped tail and scruffy looking wings.
  9. At a very sharp bend to the right towards the end of the reservoir head left off the road and just under fifty metres from the road is the obvious messy track of the ancient Moses Trod road as marked on the Ordnance Survey maps. Turn left on to the track and ascend the track in a south westerly direction.
  10. The ancient road will ascend for just over two kilometres skirting the south side of Esgair Rhiwlan. Eventually the track tops out slightly as it meets the col between Esgair Rhiwlan and Carn Ricet. At Carn Ricet there is a very small stone cairn which these days is more a pile of several stones marked on the Ordnance Survey map as Carn Ricet ( Cairn ).
  11. Carry walking along the track over the back of the wild and boggy northern side of Carn Ricet to Clawdd-du-bach, heading in a south westerly direction.
  12. The path dog legs slightly as it approaches Clawdd Du Mawr and turns right on a sharp bend a kilometrer after that dog leg. The path now heads towards the bump of Blaen Rhestr.
  13. Just after you pass Blaen Rhestr on the right you will notice a few small paths head of right of the main track at grid reference SN 842 691. Turn right on to this path and after a hundred metres you will come across the large disused and boarded up building known as Cerrigllwydion House. I can't find any information on the history of Cerrigllwydion House, it really is an extremely remote location for such a building.
  14. At Cerrigllwydion House you can head down to the silent waters of Llyn Cerrigllwydion Uchaf. You can head in a north westerly direction down through boggy pathless terrain to reach Llyn Cerrigllwydion Isaf. There are some fascinating boulders around this lake and it makes for a great lunching or wild camping spot.
  15. At the far end of Llyn Cerrigllwydion Isaf you can ascend a fun scramble to the top of the craggy Lloches Lewsyn. From the top head south east for four hundred metres to reach the top of Blaen Rhestr with its small stone cairn.
  16. From the summit of Blaen Rhestr make your way back to the main track you left earlier. Head back the way you came along the track for around half a kilometre until you reach the sharp bend you rounded earlier.
  17. Go round the bend then after two hundred metres turn right off the track. Head east from here. The land will rise slightly then descend the pathless terrain of Esgair Beddau. There is eventually a proper path as you descend closer to the bottom of the valley.
  18. Head down Esgair Beddau all the way until you reach the lovely snaking Nant Cletwr at the bottom of the valley. Here there is an old building to the right and straight ahead a crossing of the river up to the farm track. That track isn't open access land so instead follow the nearside northern bank of the river down the valley.
  19. There is a path that becomes clearer the lower you get and climbs higher above the river further on. After you pass the old Lluest-aber-caethon farm across the valley you will see a bridge below where the Nant Lwyd meets the Nant Cletwr. Head down here through the bracken and cross the river then head down to the farm track.
  20. Turn right on to the farm track and head east, after a kilometre you will reach the tarmac minor road you walked up earlier. At the road turn right to head back to the dam and the car park.
  21. On your way home enjoy the drive down the Elan Valley and keep an eye out for the Red Kites. The visitor centre at Elan Village after the reservoirs is worth a visit, there is an exhibition showing the history and natural history of the area. There are plenty of tea rooms and drinking establishments in the lovely Rhayader village.

Maps for this walk

Paper maps for this walk

Click to buy OS Explorer 200 Map Click to buy OS Landranger 147 Map Click to buy Pathfinder Guides Mid Wales & The Marches Click to buy The Elan Valley Way book

GPS files for this walk

Route map of this walk

Photos & Trip Reports

Planning for a walk

Check the weather

The weather is a very important part of hill walking. Weather conditions and daylight hours will dictate where you walk, what gear you will need to carry, how far you walk, and may even decide if you go at all. The following links will help you gather information on weather conditions for areas of Britain...

Plan your journey

Planning your journey before you set off for your walk can save you vital hours on the day. You need to make sure you know the area surrounding your starting point as many factors can influence or change the place you park. Don't forget change for parking meters and fees.

Maintenance of your vehicle and being ready for breakdown situations when driving to remote areas is also vital. Pack a full spare petrol can in your boot, and take de-icing tools in winter, including a shovel. The Transport Direct website below is a great resource for anyone wanting to get to the start of their walk using public transport...

Pack the right gear

Carrying and wearing the right gear is essential for walkers to remain comfortable and safe while hill walking in Britain. However, the best gear in the world is of no use to anyone who doesn't know how to use and care for it. Knowing how to use your gear will give you a much more enjoyable experience. The following items are, in my opinion, the essential items to wear and carry for a hill walk in Britain. It would be foolish to head into the hills and mountains of Britain without these essential items and the knowledge of how to use them. Check out the gear section of this site for techniques and gear lists...

  • Footwear
  • Clothing
  • Rucksack
  • Warm Clothes
  • Waterproofs
  • Map & Compass
  • Emergency Kit
  • First Aid Kit
  • Food & Drink
  • Seasonal Gear

Know what to do in emergencies

It is good practise to tell someone where you are going, and when you expect to return. If you don't get in contact when you said you would on your return, and those you told can't get hold of you, at least they will be able to provide the search party with your general location.

Emergency equipment in the check list above means items such as a survival bag, whistle, and emergency food rations. This isn't anything special; any whistle will do, the orange emergency bags only costs a few pounds, and basic food rations can consist of a couple of chocolate bars. Carrying a head lamp is also an important component and a vital piece of kit used for signalling when you require rescuing.

You should always try and get out of a difficult or emergency situation using your own gear, knowledge and energy. If you cannot do this, then you should dial 999 and ask for the police. Use all the gear you have to keep any unwell or injured members of your party or yourself safe and warm, and use your signalling devices to let the rescuers know your whereabouts. To do this blow six good long blasts on your whistle, or flash six flashes of your torch. Stop for one minute. Repeat. Carry on with the whistle blasts until someone reaches you, and don't stop because you've heard a reply.

Never contact mountain rescue unless absolutely necessary, but on the other hand don't ever feel guilty for having to do so, especially if you are a prepared walker. The Mountain Rescue teams are full of fantastic like-minded souls who love nothing more than people who are prepared for being safe in the mountains.