For many years, the Upper Neuadd reservoir has been a goto place for many photographers, for me, it’s certainly been no different. However, over the last few years there has been extensive groundworks being undertaken by Welsh Water, which has resulted in the entire (apart from a small channel) reservoir being drained.
It looks worse than this, this was a few years ago… Upper Neuadd Which resembles more of a mars-scape than a beauty spot. One of the special aspects of the Upper Neuadd is that is is well protected on either side by large steep escarpments, so if the weather is right, the reservoir turns into a mirror and reflects the wonderful aspects of Pen Y Fan, Cribyn and Corn Du.
I have been lucky enough to photograph in the summer, winter, autumn and Spring here. So it became a very special place for me, not just the views towards Pen Y Fan but the atmosphere the entire Blaen Taf Fechan river course creates as it runs down the mountain side.
So, why this blog post, well for quite a while, a number of photographers, walkers and visitors have been asking me will it ever get refilled?
A few years back Mark Kent was lucky enough to get some information via a Telephone call to Welsh Water, but I wanted to get an official line that I could share with anyone who might be interested in reading about the current state and any future plans. So after contacting Welsh Water on twitter and after many month of exchanges via direct message, I was eventually promised an update via email from the Communications Manager.
The attached letter which arrived in my inbox rather unannounced at the end of November last year details the reasons for draining and future plans. Sadly, the long term future for refilling look bleak.
For those who can’t read the small font size, essentially Welsh Water talks about “managing the levels of the reservoir for years to protect the Grade 2 listed Dam structure. In order to protect the dam for the future, there are no plans at present to restore the level of water. This is something however that they intend to keep under review”
Which of course is understandable, what is slightly frustrating is the lack of information that was made available to those who wanted to know. It is of course visible from the summit of South Wales tallest mountain and many gaze down wondering what has happened. There is little information on site.
It is a shame that the reservoir will remain drained for the foreseeable future, but don’t let that put you off visiting. The Upper Neuadd is not just about reflections on the water, it’s so much more than that. Many photographers have spent time here completing projects and return time after time not for the physical reflection but personal reflection. It’s that kind of place.
Enjoy a wonderful meander up Blaen Taf Fechan, a lovely walk, if slightly eerie with the mountain tops looming above. If you reach the far end beneath Pen Y Fan, wave up to the thousands looking down on you and smile, you might have to convince a few you are not lost!
Yes, I’m as disappointed as you might be, but I hope this email from Welsh Water at last puts to bed what has happened at the Upper Neuadd and why. For now, enjoy the Lower Neuadd, which can itself create that lovely reflection, or better still, explore beyond the island and discover the Upper Neuadds real beauty.
As a footnote, I’d like to invite photographs from anyone who visits the Upper Neuadd reservoir to send me photographs and I’ll happily add to this post to share the latest update/progress. Does anyone have any photographs from 2017?
Addendum: Since writing this blog, I have also found a further resource, a very detailed one, if you wish to get a deeper understanding of the restoration project.