The Grwyne Fawr valley straddles the county boundary between Monmouthshire and Powys in the eastern part of the Brecon Beacons National Park – the Black Mountains. The river flows from the mountain tops above the reservoir (pictured above in February 2015) to join the River Usk at Glangrwyney.
For the purposes of this website, it covers the area from above the reservoir to a point about seven miles downstream where the valley road meets the roads to Crickhowell and Abergavenny – Five Ways, in local speak – where stands one of the very few officially grey-painted BT telephone boxes, a local landmark.
The river which gives its name to the valley, the Grwyne Fawr, is a tributary of the River Usk and as such is a Special Area of Conservation for a wide range of species including salmon and trout, which spawn in it’s upper reaches.
The surrounding hills, including Waun Fach the highest peak in the Black Mountains, and the river are a magnet to walkers and mountain bikers, with many routes available for both groups. The higher level routes offer tremendous views to those brave enough to tackle the often inclement weather!
The valley is home to a wide variety of businesses, from the expected farms through to high-tech software development, a ‘library’ of authors/journalists, a wedding bouquet maker and a garden open to the public. Oh yes, and the holiday home of the inventor of the World Wide Web, without whom you wouldn’t be reading this!
A large part of the top end of the valley is conifer plantation, now managed by Natural Resources Wales, and local hill farmers graze their flocks on the higher, open, ground.
Being slightly “out on a limb” as a border community, many of the residents have got together to form a Community Interest Company (CIC) to push for improvements to their way of life.
The stated aims of the CIC are:
To improve the living and visiting environment of the valley by presenting the residents as a cohesive body who will be able to:
- Bid for funds to carry out environmental and other projects, which will enhance the quality of life of residents and the experience for visitors.
- Present a unified voice when dealing with utility and other companies to ensure better quality services
- Propose further enhancements to the quality of life of residents.
- Work together to improve telecommunications links for the valley, including high speed Broadband and mobile phone connections.
The current major CIC project is The Pen y Cae Project.
The CIC is bringing back into use a small farmhouse in the Mynydd Du Forest which has previously been used an as outdoor activity centre. Our aim is that it should have a future as both an educational and social resource. It will have the ability to sleep up to 12 people who wish to have overnight accommodation, but will also be available to school, student and other groups for day use.
Pen y Cae will have basic but serviceable amenities: as well as bed spaces there will be toilets and showers, cooking and drying facilities and limited (solar powered) electricity.
Work on restoring the building to this level will involve volunteers as well as well as professionals. Progress to date has been slow because of the Covid pandemic and legal complications, but we are now clear and ready to start work. Funding has been secured from various sources. Watch this space!
For more detail on this click on the Pen y Cae button in the Menu Bar.
For those of a legal mind, here’s a full copy of the Articles of Association of the Company
The Grwyne Fawr is a wonderful place to live and to enjoy on a day trip, but being a small, spread out community it is sometimes ‘forgotten’ by the various authorities and abused by a small minority of people who use the remoteness to undertake non-compatible activities such as ‘Raves” and off-road motor biking.
The residents of the Grwyne Fawr welcome legitimate users and will do what they can to discourage those who seek to destroy the unique quality of the valley.
This blog will keep you up to date with things as they happen in the valley and we welcome your photos of the valley and your comments.