The Dyfi Valley
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This lonely lake, not much more than 200 yds across, situated in stark moorland 1897 ft above sea-level under the towering crags of Aran Fawddwy (2959 ft), is the source of the Dyfi.
High up near Craiglyn Dyfi, the river carries the name Llaethnant for a short distance, which means Milk Brook, and of course there's a legend associated with this.
Drops down via Pistyll Gwyn waterfalls through Cwm Dyniewyd to join the Dyfi near Llanymawddwy.
A neat little village, with St Tydecho's church, where you can read about his life and times, and the font where soldiers once sharpened their swords before a long-forgotten battle at Bwlch-y-Groes. The village used to be a hive of activity during the days of the drovers, with no less than seven inns, but sadly they have all faded away nowadays.
http://www.madog.org/lluniau/index.shtml - photos of the Dyfi Valley from Bwlch-y-Groes
The Cywarch springs from a point below Glasgwm travelling via Cwm Cywarch to join the Dyfi at Abercywarch. The dramatic crags above here are in wild country, and there are some great pictures to be found at:
According to George Borrow, this is the place where Ellis Wynne composed his immortal "Sleeping Bard" (translated by George in 1860). Borrow says that no wonder that the work is wild and wondrous, because so is the location. Read more about this below but, beware, it sounds a bit heavy going.
Llyn y Fign
The Cerist appears high up in the hills above the Bwlch Oerddrws, is joined in Cwm Cerist by the stream draining from tiny Llyn y Fign (near the summit of Glasgwm) and joins the Dyfi just North of Dinas Mawddwy.
George Borrow dismisses Dinas with the words "little more than a collection of filthy huts; a dirty squalid place", but do remember that this was in 1860, and things have improved vastly since then! Indeed, by 1890, a guide book praised its qualities as somewhere one could "enjoy mountain walks and mountain air; eat Welsh mutton, fresh butter and newly laid eggs; and drink fresh milk without running the risk of imbibing chalk and water in mistake". The Red Lion (Y Llew Coch) had a long-standing reputation for being a "singing pub" with "singing beer" (cwrw canu), and when I used to frequent it many moons ago it was standing room only on a Saturday night, with singing almost literally raising the roof after the Twmpath Dawns ended in the hall just up the road. Unfortunately, that's all in the past, but the pub is still doing good business. Unfortunately, the last village shop has now closed down.
Can't quite work out where the Dugoed has its source, but it flows through Cwm Dugoed, joined by various tributaries, including the waters from Llyn Coch-hwyad, to become the Cleifion at its lower reaches, joining the Dyfi just North of Mallwyd. Apparently, the Cleifion is a good place to fish.
A peaceful and pretty hamlet, mercifully bypassed by the main road. St. Tydecho's church is worth a visit, with its ancient graveyard and mysterious animal bones above the porch. The Web Site below gives details of John Davies of Mallwyd, who went to the trouble of helping to produce a Welsh translation of the Bible in 1620, and a Welsh dictionary and grammar in 1632.
The Angell and its numerous tributaries rise in the midst of the Dyfi Forest, are joined by the Mynach at Abermynach, and flow together to join the Dyfi at Aberangell.
Just a short river, the Llinau rises about 3 miles above Cwm Llinau, where it meets the Dyfi. George Borrow, always ready to state his opinion on things, clearly liked the look of the river here, as he crossed it on the road bridge in 1860.
Another very short stream, meeting the Dyfi just downstream of Cwm Llinau, on the West bank.
George Borrow had a bit of a strange experience at an inn at Cemmaes, where he was stared at in suspicious silence by the regulars. You have been warned...
There's a wind farm on the ridge above Cemmaes (on Mynydd y Cemmaes), which back in 1992 was the first to be established in Wales. It was set up by National Wind Power and is now run by Westbury Windfarms Ltd, being able to generate 7.2 MW of electricity from 24 turbines. Public attitudes, especially locally, seem generally to be favourable, but plans for it to be extended in 1999 met with many objections. Both the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales and the British Horse Society came out against the scheme, the latter because two of the turbines were thought to have been sited dangerously close to a bridlepath.
The source of the Twymyn is way up towards Dylife, where it explodes as a waterfall (Ffrwd Fawr) in the dramatic Pennant Valley, gathering a lot of water as it joins the main valley to join the Dyfi just upstream of Cemmaes Road (more properly entitled Glantwymyn these days).
Nobody travelling to Dylife today can fail to be impressed by the narrow twisting mountain road, the Pennant Valley, and the glorious panoramic views. However, Dylife itself is strangely quiet: just a few cottages, a pub (The Star Inn), a little graveyard with scant ruins of a church, and scattered industrial remains, all set in a bleak landscape.
See: http://freespace.virgin.net/french.bros/wales.htm - crystal-clear pics of Dylife and the Pennant Valley, and there's some more at: http://www.pale.org/photos/local/
See also Flash panoramas (i) and (ii).
Back in the 1800s though it was very different, and Dylife was a hive of activity with 1000 or more workers employed in extracting lead ore from beneath the surface. A Viewpoint just a couple of miles West of Dylife commemorates the well-known broadcaster and writer Wynford Vaughan-Thomas, who was very fond of this spot.
The hamlet of Pennant sits at the entrance to the blind Pennant Valley, a remote and unfrequented area. There is an ambitious plan to plant a broadleaf woodland there, called the Forest of Dreams, and you can read more in a 4.75 MB .pdf file at:
The village of Llanbrynmair used to be 2 miles down the road, where the ancient St. Mary's Church can still be found perched on its hill. However, when the turnpike came through in 1821, followed by the railway in 1861, the centre moved to the area known as "Wynnstay", after the inn at that location. The hamlet of Wynnstay took on the name of Llanbrynmair, and the original Llanbrynmair became simply "Llan".
Tafolwern's claim to fame is Y Domen Fawr, recorded as the one-time home in the 12th Century of Owain Cyfeiliog, the famous Welsh Prince and poet.
I've only recently discovered this tributary to the Twymyn, which joins it at Llanbrynmair. If you turn off the road just before Plas Rhiw-Saeson, and take a very narrow minor road with grass growing in its middle, you discover a pretty river valley lined with alder trees.
Glantwymyn (Cemmaes Road)
Cemmaes Road was the name given to the railway station when the main line came through in 1862, and the village grew up around it. A line also joined from the Mallwyd Railway, but both that and the station are long gone, although the main line still exists.
Small tributary which flows into the Dyfi near the historic house of Mathafarn. Watch out for the supernatural when you are in this area...
Some time back there was a mention on a web site, now disappeared, of "Mathafarn Ironworks on the Dovey estuary", which was apparently in operation around 1630-ish. I've never heard of this before, and haven't yet been able to find out anything more.
Flows via the village of Abercegir to emerge at Abergwydol.
I have precious little information on Darowen so far, but there are some interesting bits of its history dotted around the Internet. Two out of three ancient standing stones are still present in the area, although the third was destroyed in 1860. The local church was founded in the 7th Century, although the current church was rebuilt in 1864, and is dedicated to St. Tudur who, legend says, is buried here. And there's a now-overgrown Holy Well there, dedicated to the same saint. The village used to have a school which had as many as 100 pupils from the surrounding area, but it closed in 1971.
Tiny stream flowing into the Dyfi near Llanwrin.
The church at Llanwrin is dedicated to St. Gwrin, who
was reputed to be a local chieftain, full name "Gwrin of the Shaggy Beard",
grandson of Gildas, and grandfather to Idris. There's some info on the church
and a picture at:
There's a local landowner at Llanwrin who has created an enormous outline of a Welsh dragon on one of his fields, which with a bit of difficulty you can see across the valley from the main road just West of Cemmaes Road.
The North Dulas (so named to distinguish it from altogether a different Dulas to the South called, er, the South Dulas) has its source way up in the Dyfi Forest, up above Aberllefenni. It flows south through a twisting valley via the villages of Corris, Ceinws and Pantperthog, to join the Dyfi just upstream of the Millenium Bridge.
A tiny cluster of houses and an old schoolroom is all that marks Pantperthog, although at Christmas time one of the houses has an amazing show of lights, quite well-known locally. Nearby, of course, is the famous Centre for Alternative Technology.
And here's another of those tantalising part-stories behind the name of a local geographical feature.
Esgairgeiliog & Ceinws
These names seem to be interchangeably used for the same village, but maybe there's some subtle difference in usage, known only to the locals. Whatever name you use, the village had its origins in the slate mining industry, which existed there from 1818 through to 1934, when the last of its 3 slate quarries closed. It was served by the Corris Railway until that, too, closed - although the old course of the railway can still be seen, and there's a tiny station building still in existence right next to the main road. It would be nice to think that one day the re-opened section of the Corris railway could extend this far, and further.
Corris + Aberllefenni = Slate: slate quarries, slate houses, slate roofs, slate walls, slate fences, slate gravestones. These are very grey villages, and nobody could truthfully claim them to be pretty, but they are set in the lovely countryside of the Dulas Valley, and nature is rapidly softening the exposed cold greyness of the waste tips. Some of the old underground slate workings are now finding a new role as a tourist attraction, people are busy renovating cottages, and there's a modern craft centre at Corris where artists and craftsmen produce ornate candles, pyrography, pottery, silverwork & jewellery, toys, and all manner of leather goods (although people of a nervous disposition shouldn't peer too deeply into the back of this particular shop!). Read more at:http://www.corriscraftcentre.com/ or http://www.garthyfog.co.uk/corris_craft_centre.htm
The South Dulas has its origins in Glaslyn, and it is soon joined by the outflow from Bugeilyn, although the old Saxton maps show the outflows from these two lakes going off entirely in the opposite direction. Later the river is joined by the Hengwm and the Carog, and flows on through the hamlet of Forge, where it is soon met by the Crewi. From this point it skirts Penegoes, and joins the Dyfi just upstream of Machynlleth. The old Tithe Maps show a succession of weirs and mills along the South Dulas, and Glaslyn's sluice gates were originally used to control the flow of water into the river.
Forge (Bont Faen)
More properly called Bont Faen these days, it's easy to blink and miss Forge, although there's an old mine there called Ogof Widdon (Witches' Cave) which is reckoned to date from the Bronze Age. At one stage there were 5 fulling mills on the Dulas, providing local employment for the men of Forge.
http://www.montwt.co.uk/glaslyn.html has lots of info on Glaslyn, which at 230 ha (540 acres) now forms the largest of the Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust's nature reserves. Useful map, too.
Llyn Bugeilyn sits in moorland at about 1700 feet above sea level, and is stocked with wild brown trout - ideal for flyfishing from boat or bank, according to the Ty'n-y-Cornel Hotel at Tal-y-Llyn, where you can obtain permits. Local poet John S. Mason has been moved to write: "Over Glaslyn and Bugeilyn who cannot be reborn?"
http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/182776 shows the lake.
A small clutch of houses in various states of habitation, a long-empty village shop, and a chapel that seems no longer to be in use, Melinbyrhedyn seems on the face of things to be on a downward spiral. But there's a nice feel to the place, and surely it must be ripe for a bit of investment?
Aberhosan is just a few houses and some outlying farms, but its population seems to have a great deal of community spirit. Despite the fact that their shops and Post Office have closed, likewise their little school, and places of worship steadily reduced - there never was a pub - they are obviously very proud of their village and its long traditions. They've published an excellent history of Aberhosan and nearby hamlet Melinbyrhedyn, under the title "Aberhosan, A Portrait" © Aberhosan Local History Society, and I see from elsewhere on the Web they've been granted a further sum of money to create a historical and cultural archive. Good for them.
There's an interesting insight into the use of Welsh
at Aberhosan village school in 1894 at:
And a pic of Aberhosan church at:
Two potters/ceramic artists who also design stage sets and costumes for the theatre operate out of Aberhosan. See: http://www.carrog.co.uk/
http://users.aber.ac.uk/ruw/album/050501.html contains good pics of Hengwm.
Llyn y Delyn
I've never been there, and it came as complete news to me that it even existed, but right up in the far reaches of the Hengwm river, under the steep slopes of Creigiau Bwlch Hyddgen, there's the tiniest of ponds. Look closely at modern day maps and you'll still find its name - which is more than can be said of the llyn itself, except after very wet weather, which I'm told is the only time it fills up. Experts say that it's "a kettlehole, a depression in the surface of a glacial drift, resulting from the melting of an included ice mass. It may be filled with water to form a small lake, termed a kettle lake". So it seems that portions of a glacier could become trapped under layers of sediment, and as they slowly melted they left depressions in the landscape. These depressions are known as kettleholes and the raised cone-like mounds of sand between them are called kames. OK, but there's another explanation:
A long thin village, with a number of claims to fame.
An old water mill, Felin Crewi, has been completely restored as a guest house.
Mach was listed as Machenleyd as long ago as 1254. Its name is thought to derive from Maes = field or plain or low-lying land, and Cynllaith - a personal name. In turn, Cynllaith apparently derives from 'kind or gentle when used as an adjective and slaughter or destruction as a noun. (OK, I give up.) Machynlleth is no longer thought to be connected with the Roman station of Maglona, which is a bit of a let-down, because for generations Maglona has been used locally as a girl's name, and there was once even an ocean-going ship built nearby with the name.
The town is, of course, well known as the location of a Parliament called by Owain Glyndwr in 1404, and as the Welsh seat of the Londonderry family for a number of generations.
However, the town has many other claims to fame, some of which I have explored a little...
Click on |TONS more on the town| to get just that.
Nant Llyn Gŵr Drwg
Llyn Glanmerin (Lord Herbert's Lake)
Llyn Glanmerin is known locally as Lord Herbert's Lake, and the Lord Herbert in question was Lord Herbert Vane-Tempest, one-time lord of the manor at Plas Machynlleth, just below the lake. I've re-visited the area now, after a gap of about 35 years, and although it's changed - much of the surrounding pine forest has been harvested and the old boathouse has totally collapsed - it's a beautiful and lonely place. The rivulet which takes the waters of Llyn Glanmerin to meet the Rhisglog and on to the Dyfi near Derwenlas is given the name on the Ordnance Survey maps of Nant Llyn Gŵr Drwg; translated literally this means the Brook of the Bad Man's Lake. However, Y Gŵr Drwg is a common euphemism in Welsh for The Devil. So why was Lord Herbert's Lake previously known as The Devil's Lake?
In the absence of any other explanation, I've got a theory.
Soon after flowing out of Llyn Penrhaeadr, the stream tumbles down a very steep section at Pistyll-y-Llyn (480 ft waterfalls), enters Cwm Rhaeadr, which at Glaspwll becomes the Llyfnant Valley. We visited this quiet valley in Spring 2002, after a gap of about 20 years, and were impressed by its totally unspoilt beauty and tranquility. The river passes under the main A487 road at Pont Llyfnant, and joins the Dyfi just below Dyfi Junction railway station.
It seems as if the Pennal river is called the Rhonwydd at its upper reaches, but I've never explored it. What's more, the name of Afon Sychan seems also to be used, especially downstream, where it joins the Dyfi at Llyn Bwtri. Very confusing - must find out more.
A village on the main road between Machynlleth and Aberdyfi. Its church is one of only 4 in the country to be dedicated to St. Peter ad Vincula (St. Peter in Chains), and the great age of its site is indicated by the circular churchyard. Opposite is the Riverside Hotel, and just down the road is Talgarth Country Club, with a striking Dolmen in its grounds, easily visible from the road (Tomen Las = Green Mound). The village has an excellent meeting place, converted in 2012 from the old Carmel chapel.
Pennal is also the site of a Roman fort, Cefn Caer, of which there is little to see nowadays, and it's on private land. Take a look at:
http://www.rcahmw.org.uk/exemplar/ which is the Web Site of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales.
Don't blink, or you'll miss Cwrt. It's a tiny hamlet at the end of a straight stretch of road just West of Pennal, which used to be the only place you could overtake for miles. However, it had its moment of fame, according to legend.
As mentioned elsewhere, this little lake is not part
of the Dyfi system, but is so close - and so significant - it just has to be
included. There are some pics at:
Not a lot here today, although it won't die as long as it retains its last remaining pub - the Black Lion. This is a common name for a pub in these parts, derived from the coat of arms of the Gogerddan family, who had a lot of influence in the area. It goes back further though: a black lion was part of the coat of arms of the old Princes of Powys, and indeed of the mighty Owain Glyndwr.
http://www.westwales.co.uk/pictures/west_pix.htm - pictures
Llyn Plas-y-Mynydd (New Pool)
These four little lakes all within a mile of each other were created to cater for the needs of the now long gone lead mining industry. The outlet from Llyn Penrhaeadr flows North to join the headwaters of the Llyfnant stream, and that from Llyn Plas-y-Mynydd (also known as New Pool) drains South, ultimately into Nant-y-Moch Reservoir. Llyn Conach seems to feed a complex of minor reservoirs to the South, associated with the old mine workings, but I can't work out quite where Llyn Dwfn drains. It's years since I hiked in this area, and in those days the big house "Anglers' Retreat" was a derelict shell.
The view from this tiny village of the tidal estuary and the hills beyond is marvellous. Nearby is the isolated Dyfi Junction station. Is it true that this is the only station in the country with no road leading to it? It is here that trains from Mach either head north up through Aberdyfi and Tywyn to the North Wales Coast, or south down to Aber - beyond which a short-sighted government in the mid 60s decided to close the line.
Photo at http://westwales.co.uk/graphics/glandyfi.jpg
I've discovered on the Web a scanned copy of a painting of this actual view, by Oliver Hall, and entitled "View Near Machynlleth". It's oil on canvas, 20" x 30" in dimension, featuring lots of brooding purples and greys, the meandering Dyfi, the railway bridge in the middle distance, and the hills beyond.
There's a biography of Oliver Hall on the Web, which states that Oliver Hall RA, RE, RWS (1869 -1957) was a painter-etcher of landscapes, born in Brixton, London, and studied at the Royal College of Art 1887-90. He lived at Sutton, near Pulborough, Sussex, and later in Ulverston, Lancashire.
The well known and frequently grumpy Welsh poet Rev R. S. Thomas lived in the village for many years, and his autobiography makes interesting reading ("Autobiographies" publ by Phoenix, ISBN 0 75380 113 2).
Nearby is Ynys Hir RSPB Bird Sanctuary, for years run by Bill Condry, who wrote some excellent books on the area and its wildlife. (Snowdonia, publ 1987, David & Charles; Exploring Wales, publ 1970, Faber and Faber; The Natural History of Wales, publ 1990, Bloomsbury)
info on Ynys Hir Bird Sanctuary.
http://www.cornardtye.freeserve.co.uk/egwi/condry.html or http://ead.llgc.org.uk/arddangos_fs.php?iaith=eng&saan=000029484
information on the life and works of Bill Condry
Close by is noted country hotel Ynys Hir Hall, and another Dolmen called Domen Las, just to confuse us with the one at Talgarth.
|More| on Garreg, Ysgubor-y-Coed, Llanfihangel Capel-Edwin, Glandyfi and Domen Las.
Furnace is notable for its mid-18th Century blast furnace, and early maps mark the location simply as "Dyfi Furnace". The remaining structure, complete with large waterwheel, has been renovated in recent years.
In an earlier age, during the reign of Charles I, for a brief time about 1648-49, the Aberystwyth mint was relocated to Furnace because Aberystwyth Castle, the usual home of the mint, had been destroyed. Coins minted there used Ceredigion silver, and examples still come on the market from time to time, listed as "Aberystwyth Furnace".
|More| on the furnace.
The waters from Llyn Conach join the Afon Pemprys, which meets the Einion at Ystrad Einion. This used to be mining country, and there's a write-up entitled "The History of Ystrad Einion Mine" by S. J. S. Hughes in the UK Journal of Mines and Minerals, 6 (1989), pp.12-14.
There's enough water in the river by the time it reaches the end of Cwm Einion (also known as Artist's Valley) at Furnace for it to drive a large waterwheel and fuel a spectactular waterfall, easily visible from the road. After passing under the road, the Einion continues to meet the Dyfi near Domen Las, on the edge of Ynyshir RSPB Bird Sanctuary.
For many years Robert Plant, of Led Zep fame, had a country retreat in Cwm Einion - I believe he still does - and used to buy his ironmongery supplies from my father's shop in Machynlleth. Some say that "Stairway to Heaven" was written here and, as you follow the narrow road as it twists up the valley, you can understand the title. (However, I'm not getting dragged into an argument over this - there are many other explanations offered...) Robert Plant issued a record in 1993 with a track entitled "Artist's Valley", and in 1994 produced the video "Unplugged" which was shot in Corris, 6 miles North of Mach, on the North Dulas river.
http://www.westwales.co.uk/pictures/west_pix.htm - pictures
of Cwm Einon/Artists' Valley
The little Cletwr passes through a pretty and well-hidden wooded valley, Cwm Cletwr, just above the village of Tre'r Ddôl, and there's a public footpath which follows one bank to Coed Cwm Cletwr SSSI. On the other side of the main road the landscape opens out and you can follow the Cletwr down to where it joins the Dyfi, where it has been canalised for the last mile. But the best bit is upstream of Tre'r Ddôl.
A village blessed with a bypass which takes the busy traffic on to Ynyslas/Borth/Aber, leaving it relatively safe to walk in the middle of the main street at any time (except for the odd double decker bus, trucks stopping at the popular Cletwr Cafe, cars leaving the Wildfowler on a Saturday night, delivery vans, and... on second thoughts, don't walk in the middle of the street, even in sleepy Tre'r Ddôl.
http://www.wales-walking.co.uk/walks/w27-moelyllyn.htm contains views from Moel-y-Llyn, above the village.
Tiny village with an interesting history, and a really superb Web Site covering all aspects of its history and that of the immediate area, at:
http://www.llangynfelyn.org/hafan.html - I thoroughly recommend this site.
As a child, it always fascinated me that the distance between the two signposts marking the start and the end of the village was just a few yards - and now it fascinates me that the authorities can't seem to decide upon the correct spelling - see what I mean by clicking here.
A linear village, with not much to comment on except, of course, Bedd Taliesin (Taliesin's Grave) up above it. Originally the locality seems to have been named Comins-y-Dafarn-Fach, and an 1824 map ("A New Map of the Vicinity of Aberystwyth") by John Evans, Penygraig, simply calls the village Tafarn Fach. I've read that it was renamed Tre' Taliesin in the 1820s. Why? An early attempt to attract tourists on their Grand Tour of Wales? Or influence from the non-conformist movement to stamp out the demon drink? There's further evidence of Roman occupation of the area nearby, at Erglodd, where there was a Roman fortlet, apparently abandoned early in the 2nd century.
Talybont is situated at the confluence of three river valleys, Cwm Leri, Cwm Ceulan and Cwm Slaid. Two pubs, the White Lion and the Black Lion, sit next to each other on the village green. Talybont holds a very popular village show each August. The village is very well-represented at http://www.tal-y-bont.org/, which includes a great deal of historical content.
H. V. Morton, in his book "In Search of Wales", published in 1932, sadly omits any mention of the Dyfi Valley, skipping from Dolgellau to Talybont with just a passing mention of Tal-y-Llyn. How could he have failed to include Machynlleth? Maybe it was raining as he passed through. He is fascinated by the then thriving tweed industry in Talybont though - the "most idyllic factory in Wales" - and very impressed by the fact that the local stream is full of trout.
Also known as Borth Bog, it's one of the largest areas of raised bog in Britain, containing many interesting features. It's very fragile, and the public aren't actively encouraged, but once in a while there's a guided tour around it - and it's fascinating. More on this at:
And some miscellaneous info:
There's not much I can say yet about Dolybont, other than it's tucked away down in a dip off the Borth to Llandre road, on the back road to Taliesin. Dolybont bridge, crossing the Leri, dates back to the eighteenth century, and is a very pointy bridge - when you drive over it you feel that the car is going to bottom, and you're going to end up slowly rocking to and fro. Nearby there's a gauging station on the Leri, run by the Environmental Agency Wales.
The older part of Llandre is a quiet and interesting place, tucked away as it is, off the road from Bow Street to Borth. The churchyard, near vertical in part, contains yews of great age and the gravestones of many "Master Mariners" from the days when Borth was noted for men going into this profession. On the hilltop, behind the village, are some evocative remains of a motte and bailey castle, Castell Gwallter, dating from Norman times, and both the church and village seem to have been called Llanfihangel Castell Gwallter until the 1600s. Around this time the name Llanfihangel Genau'r Glyn came into common use. The latter name is still used today to describe both the church and the parish, but the simpler name of Llandre is now commonly used to refer to the village.
The Leri looks as if rises up near Nant-y-Moch, and some would have it that it rises on Fynach Fawr. I must admit to not knowing its upper reaches at all. Does it drain from Llyn Craigypistyll? However, it passes through the villages of Talybont and Dolybont, which I do know, and when it reaches the southern edge of Cors Fochno it has been canalised and diverted from its original outfall in the sea near Borth to continue North to join the Dyfi at Traeth Maelgwn, near Ynyslas (opposite Aberdyfi), where there's a boat-building business.
has some useful detail, and
http://www.wales-walking.co.uk/walks/w22-craigypistyll.htm has a picture of Llyn Craigypistyll.
Superb sand dunes either side of the river, salt marshes, quicksands and a famous bog, all combine to make the Dyfi Estuary a special place. It is reckoned by those who know about such things to be the most important site in Wales for breeding wading birds and a nationally important place for wintering waterfowl.
http://www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-countryside/ukmab/BRReport/dyfi.htm has lots of info on the Dyfi Estuary and floodplain.
There was once a flourishing shipping and ship-building industry on the river, nearly all lost now, but if you're interested there's a potted history, below:
What do you mean, Cantre'r Gwaelod not part of the Dyfi Valley? My rationale is explained with perfect logic...
Pleasant village on the northern bank of the Dyfi, with glorious views of the ever-changing estuary as the tide comes in and goes out. Guesthouses line the seafront at the western end, and there's a number of useful cafés and restaurants, a friendly wine bar, and two or three pubs. Be careful how you select your pub in Aberdyfi - one very prominent one is decidedly tacky and the landlord unfriendly. However, you can afford to ignore it and carry straight on to the Penhelig Arms, just yards from the waterfront at the eastern end of the village, which I can recommend. It's a good family-run hotel, with a welcoming public bar, and the food is excellent. We've stayed there a couple of times, and will certainly be returning.
There's a harbour in Aberdyfi, with a good little museum, a jetty which is usually crowded with kids after crabs, lots of activity amongst the yachting fraternity, and golden sands which are backed by sand dunes as you head north up the beach. At low tide, you can walk east along the riverside on the "Roman Road" - actually built in 1808, and later referred to as Hen Ffordd Corbet (Corbet's Old Road) - as far as Picnic Island (originally named Bryn Llestair), which is not an island, but is separated from the mainland by a deep railway cutting.
For a great deal more on Aberdyfi, take a look at:
A wide selection of old photos are at http://www.williamsfamilytree.co.uk/aberdovey/index.php
And modern day ones at: http://www.aberdovey.com/photos.html
This one's fun: a "Bells of Aberdyfi" Midi file, plus words:
By the way, although the song was included in a collection of traditional Welsh songs in 1844, it is said that there's evidence to prove that it was actually composed by one Charles Dibdin (1745-1814, English songwriter and theatrical entrepreneur), who wrote it for his 1786 opera "Liberty Hall".
Ynyslas has a marvellous sand dune system and Nature Reserve, full of butterflies, birds, rabbits and orchids. Much work is going on to conserve the dunes, and access to them is restricted, but this doesn't detract in any way from it being a super place to be. 30 years ago it was festooned with unexploded bombs and mines, and it was by no means rare for the Army to have to close the beach whilst they dealt with the latest "little problem". Those days have (almost) gone though, and Ynyslas is great. The village of Ynyslas is more or less non-existent, there being just one long strip of odd-looking houses leading to the beach. There is a boatbuilding business at the point where the Leri joins the Dyfi estuary.
http://www.forces-of-nature.co.uk/ is a website devoted to windsurfing, but with some info relating to Borth and Ynyslas.
The Borth of ages past was described as:
"...the smale landing place, Borthe..." (1566) and later:
"picturesque hamlet... composed of two rows of white-washed tenements of one story, with earthen floors and thatched roofs... precariously poised between ancient bog and ancient sea".
Much later, in 1876, a visitor described it as "irregular even to quaintness, without being picturesque. Its houses are not grouped according to size and character, but dropped as it were anyhow, in chance collocations, tall and low, thatched and slated together. Two or three gigantesque meeting-houses, featureless and sombre, domineer over the roofs around them. One or two others of a less puritan design, and not out of character with the church on a knoll a furlong off, compensate their severer rivals. The shape of the village is determined by the narrow ridge of terra firma, the mere heaping of the tides, between the quaking march and the encroaching sea."
This is still a pretty accurate description, although there are no thatched roofs left these days. It's really not what you'd call picturesque, and time hasn't been all that kind to Borth. The village itself has suffered for years from a lack of investment - but it is definitely improving now. The Memorial Hall Leisure Centre is a great success and is to be expanded, they've brightened up the sea walls, and visitor facilities have been greatly improved. Its location is good, with a clean sea and beach - and don't be fooled by the pebbles at high tide: they don't extend out very far, but soon give way to flat sand. There's a spectacular cliff-top path leading to Clarach and beyond, and many secluded bays to explore just a short distance from the village. Furthermore, it still has its own railway station (and that's something to be said in rural Wales these days), a popular 18 hole golf links, and an Animalarium which is well worth a visit. It's a popular destination for campers - both caravans and tents - and the campsites seem to be neat and well-appointed. Borth is on the way up.
It had a great tradition of producing seafaring men, ships' captains and master mariners, totally out of proportion of the size of the village, many of whom sailed around the world.
About 100 years ago, Dr. James Murray (who dedicated his life to producing the colossal Oxford English Dictionary) used to take his family to Borth for their annual holiday. There's a picture of him in a book which has been published recently (Caught in the Web of Words) sitting astride a "great sand monster" they built on the beach at Borth.
There's a useful website at http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/mid/sites/borth/, and at
http://www.westwales.co.uk/pictures/west_pix.htm - have some
pictures of Borth and the Dyfi Estuary
http://www.wales-walking.co.uk/walks/w14-ceredigion-coast.htm contains pictures of Borth Bog, Wallog, etc.