At the end of each day, you'll arrive into our Pannier Camps, free to gather around the campfire or in our stove-heated tipi(s) for communal drinks and food. On the middle evening, we'll be recouping in B&B style accommodation. Off-the-bike highlights include the Brooks England Tour, a number of wild swim opportunities, numerous abbey and remote bothy coffee-brewing stops, local delicacy sampling, campfire cooking, time in Hay-on-Wye ... and bog-snorkelling?
So, what has industrial Birmingham got to do with Mid-Wales? Back in 1892, not long after Brooks England had started making saddles at their factory, the Birmingham Corporation Water Department took a big punt and bought 45,562 acres of Elan / Claerwen River gathering grounds in order to dam and flood the valleys; a response to rapidly growing demand for clean water. The impressive engineering scheme was opened in 1904 and, ever since, water from the Caban Coch, Careg Dhu, Pen-Y-Gareg and Craig Goch reservoirs is carried by gravity the 117km to Birmingham, via the Elan Aqueduct.
"I want to...intrigue you to follow me on a wonderful voyage of discovery into the very heart of the principality from where the great flow of water to the great industrial area of the Midlands is obtained. Let me ask you. "Have you ever met anyone who has travered the Claerwen Valley through to the Teifi Lakes?" You haven't? Neither have I. Well you, citizens of Birmingham, this great watershed is yours. Believe me, it is grand hiking country and it is calling me" [Up the Claerwen, Sid Wright. 1948]
Following a drought in 1937, the valley Sid Wright refers to was also flooded to establish the Claerwen reservoir, which equalled the combined capacity of three of the others put together. We follow in his tracks...