Llyn Brenig, a reservoir built 1973-76, is one of Wales largest at 9.5 miles in circumference and 920 acres in area. It was built to help control the water supply to the River Dee. Encompassing 1800 acres and occupying two valleys, the main habitats of the area are lake, forest, moorland, and stream. The Llyn Brenig rocks date back 400 million years and fossilized shells can be found in the mudstone rock.
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The area provides a full outdoor experience with bird and animal hides, picnic areas, bike and walking trails, fishing, and canoeing. The visitor centre has exhibits on the area’s natural history, geology, and archaeology.
Two archaeological trails are an added bonus. A short trail is about an hour’s walk and starts at the car park. On view on this trail are a ring cairn surrounded by a circle of posts, Boncyn Arian, and the site of a Mesolithic camp. At the ring cairn cremation urns, a flint knife and other remains were found. Boncyn Arian is a bronze age burial mound with stake circles and a dry stone wall around a central grave. It dates from c 1600 BC. Burial urns were discovered here. Bronze age barrows are on the far side of the lake from the site. Another mound was found at Tir Mostyn. Also on the short trail is the Hafotai Settlement dating from the 1600s. Huts here were of local stone and furniture was also of stone. Knives, pot sherds and other domestic rubbish were uncovered.
The long archaeological trail covers the short one and then continues to the Platform Cairn, where burials took place. It was a wide ring with an open centre used for cremation. Next on view is Hen Ddinbych with remains of medieval stone buildings. Across the valley bottom the trail leads to a bronze age cairn and possibly built on the site of prehistoric remains. The trail then leads to another bronze age cairn that covered a grave pit. Descending from the slope the trail continues to a small square enclosure thought to be modern. The house built on stone from prehistoric sites was for shepherds belonged to the Pierce family.
The largest flock of birds on the lake are the mallards. Also on view are the great crested grebe and the osprey. The lake is stocked with trout, and both birds and anglers take advantage of the fact. In the stream the mayflies provide food for the trout that, after hatching, spend 2-3 years here before moving into the lake. Along the stream banks are marsh marigold, the cuckoo flower, the lousewort, and the marsh violet.
More birds can be spotted in the forest area. These include the crossbill, redpoll, and coal tit. They feed on the seeds of the Sitka spruce cones and insects. Fungi grow on the forest floor.
The Mynydd Hiraethog moorland lies at 1200 feet above sea level, thus the weather and wind here are more severe than the lower levels. The rowan (mountain ash) is hardy and thrives in the moorland. Ling heather blooms in August and September. Other plants include foxgloves, bilberry, and blackberries. Birds in the moorland include the red grouse and buzzards. In the autumn fieldfares and redwings feed on the rowan berries. Rabbits provide food for the buzzards. The small heath butterfly is at home here.
Llyn Brenig Reservoir and Visitor Centre
Cerrigydrudion, Corwen, Denbighshire
North Wales Coast and Borderlands
On the A5
Tel. 0 1490 420 463
Open: Llyn Brenig lake and trails, year round, daily, 8am-sunset; Visitor Centre, daily except 25, 26 December and 1 January, times not given on website
Play area for children; fishing; café; shop; picnic areas; mountain biking; parking fee for full day, £2
Web: Llyn Brenig Reservoir and Visitor Centre
Photos © by Barbara Ballard and courtesy Geograph Britain and Ireland as follows:
Dam, view from dam, and forest by Jeff Buck;
Visitor centre, ring cairn, bird hide, sailing boats, and moorland by Eirian Evans