(Photos taken by Phil Drinkwater apart from one where indicated)
OS Grid Reference: SN857869
Afon Hafren lies north-west from Llandiloes and means River Seven. It’s looked after by Natural Resources, Wales and offers various short and long walks. It’s a favourite of ours to take the dogs purely because they can run free, paddle in the River Severn, chew on sticks of all sizes and they don’t get into any trouble! Although there’s no doggie bins, I’d still take some form of poop bag with you because whilst it is wild(ish), there are well maintained paths which don’t want spoiling especially when it’s a family picnic spot!
One windy Saturday, I met with my best friend from ‘tup north’ minus the puppy, to show him the sites of Hafren Forest. I chose the source of the River Severn route which lies in the peak bogs on the slopes of Plynlimon, 800 metres outside the forest’s boundary. This walk is just over 7 miles and takes around 41/2 hours to do (although we did it in 4). I’ve done a tiny bit of this walk already but it was amazing to finally reach the source of the River Severn!
The Walk – Source of The River Severn
The route is signposted and easy to follow – you’ll either be following the blue footprint or the white and blue stripes on the walking posts.
1.Leave the (free) car park (with toilets) and walk down into the woods taking a right which leads you on to a decked path, with the flowing River Severn alongside. Eventually you’ll come to a mini waterfall with a bunch of picnic benches. Carry on up the stairs and follow the snaking woodland path where you will pass some sort of water treatment building on your left. Continue until you reach a wooden bridge which crosses the flowing river and take a right.
2. The path consists of gravel so it’s nice and easy to walk on but I would suggest walking / hiking boots regardless. It’s out in the open here as a lot of the surrounding forest has been cut down. Eventually you’ll see a pond on your left and the river on your right. The next bridge is a metal one, cross that and take a left, back in to some shaded woodland – turning right only takes you back to the start.
3. After you’ve walked up the shaded hill, the landscapes changes. It appears vast and the signposting is somewhat dodgy. I was tempted to take the path sloping down to the river because my logic said the source of the Severn means you’ve to stay next to it. You don’t! The correct route takes you up into the deep depths of the bog where the river actually stems from. So carry straight on up until you reach yet another larger gushing waterfall.
4. Walk up the waterfall – it’s steep here and it leads to a roller coaster type of path! It’s a slow ascent with some nice downhill bits.
5. Cross yet another bridge (there’s a picnic table here) and climb a winding, another steep gravel path to the top leading on to a road (another picnic table here) and there’s a sign pointing you to the source of the River Severn.
6. The terrain changes from gravel to grassy, boggy hills with a little stone path that winds itself through. No trees here, the winds start to pick up! It’s barren around these parts except for golden wispy grass, mossy peat bogs and trickles of river water.
7. Along this section of walk, we had to make certain detours on to the surrounding banks as the path goes under water. I’m guessing this is all weather depending but it’s certainly a fun challenge to navigate around and there was a few close calls!
8. You’ll see a large wooden post which actually marks the source of the River Severn but we went a little further purely for the views at the top with the coast line on my left, I could just see it glistening in the distance as well as the Snowdonia mountains on the right.
We had plans to stop for lunch at the top but the winds were just too strong – there’s no shelter and so we headed back down to the picnic table on the main road. This area certainly has explorer potential….
It was a lovely day and dare I say it, nice to not have the puppy with me, only because she requires a lot of attention and it was good to spend that extra attention on the surrounding scenery!
Although I am going to take her.
Where have you been recently?