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Pontsticill Reservoir Walking Guide (Stunning Brecon Beacons Walk)

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Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales is one of the most famous outdoor spaces in the UK. So, it should come as no surprise that it’s also home to some of the most amazing walks in the country.

In this mini-series, we’re showcasing three stunning Brecon Beacons walks that we feel you absolutely must try:

  1. Pen y Fan & Corn Du Hike
  2. Pontsticill Reservoir Walk
  3. Ystradfellte Four Waterfalls Walk

Each walk in this series offers something unique in Wales – from mountainside views and unparalleled vistas to wide glistening lakes and powerful waterfalls.

The Pontsticill Reservoir walk is the easiest walk out of the three listed… but is no less incredible!

Pontsticill Reservoir
Views of Pontsticill Reservoir when looking north to south

Circular Pontsticill Reservoir Walk (At A Glance)

Here’s how this walk looks at a glance – with more detailed info to follow:

facts & stats
Pontsticill Reservoir in summer
Pontsticill Reservoir Bellmouth Spillway
Pontsticill Reservoir
Pontsticill Reservoir Thistle

Circular Pontsticill Reservoir Walk

Here’s what you need to know about walking around this stunning reservoir in the Brecon Beacons.

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Distance: 5.5 miles (8.9 km)

Duration: 2.5 hours

Ascent: 200 metres (max)

Terrain: Mainly flat with gravel and paved tracks; some woodland paths.

Conditions: A mix of shade and open skies; it can be windy when crossing the reservoir.

Parking: Limited but free parking in Pontsticill itself. Alternatively, there’s a free off-road car park near the Ty Taf Fechan B&B (approx postcode: CF48 2UR).

Best Time For Your Walk: April to October for the best weather. Mornings and weekdays will likely be quieter than weekends and school holidays.

Facilities: There are public toilets (not free) in Pontsticill village. Brecon Mountain Railway also has toilet facilities available for customers.

About Pontsticill Reservoir

Pontsticill Reservoir is one of many stunning Brecon Beacons reservoirs and can be found near the village of Pontsticill in the county of Powys.

It’s been in use since 1927 and holds a whopping 3,400 million gallons of water, which is used across houses, factories and other industry buildings across South Wales.

It’s so large that it engulfs two different reservoirs, which means you can enjoy two walks for the price of one!

Pontsticill Reservoir in summer
Views of Pontsticill Reservoir when looking northwards

Although most of the reservoir looks like a lake, there’s a bell-mouth spillway at the southeastern side of it, which is only one of three in the whole of the UK.

A bell-mouth spillway is designed like an inverted bell and makes the water look like it’s swirling down into some kind of vortex or hole. It’s pretty cool to see!

Pontsticill Reservoir Bellmouth Spillway
Some people call this the “plughole” – and we can totally see why!

Did you know? Pontsticill Reservoir was also a filming location for the 2011 film ‘Submarine’ and the 2021 BBC TV drama ‘The Pact’?

Circular Pontsticill Reservoir Walk – 5.5 Miles – 2.5 Hours

One of the most popular Pontsticill Reservoir walks is a circular route that enables you to walk around most of the reservoir.

It lasts for about 5.5 miles and takes most people around 2.5 hours. But we think you should devote a half-day to this walk to enjoy it at a leisurely pace – and to stop for a picnic next to the reservoir.

There’s a free off-road car park near the Ty Taf Fechan B&B (approx postcode: CF48 2UR). You can see it on this map.

Ty Taf Fechan B&B, Pontsticill Reservoir
There’s free off-road parking near this B&B

From the car park, follow the route towards the bridge that offers views of both parts of the reservoir before continuing along the eastern side towards the railway museum and cafe. 

Throughout the walk, you’ll find little inlays by the side of the reservoir, which are perfect for picnicking and resting in. You may even spot a few people fishing as you walk past.

Make sure you grab a photo of the bell-mouth spillway before finishing your walk!

Here’s a link to this route on AllTrails. Bear in mind they have you starting in Pontsticill itself, which we understand has limited parking options.

Note: Part of this walk follows the 55-mile-long Taff Trail, which is popular with both hikers and cyclists. The Pontsticill Reservoir walk is flat but with gravel paths and woodland tracks in places, so it might be a bit trickier for those of you with pushchairs or wheelchairs.

Easy Pontsticill Reservoir Walk – 4.5 Miles – 2 Hours

If you’d rather go on a shorter and flatter walk, you can enjoy some of the best views of the reservoir by following the eastern side of it. This route will take you past the Brecon Mountain Railway, which also conveniently has a cafe with a superb vista.

This side of the reservoir – and north of it – is where you can get closest to the water’s edge anyway, so you won’t be missing out on too much.

The only downside is that you’ll have to walk back on yourself rather than walking a full circular route.

Pontiscill Reservoir, Wales
Enjoying views of Pontsticill Reservoir from our picnic spot

What To Wear & Pack For Your Pontsticill Reservoir Walk

Pontsticill Reservoir is a relatively easy walk (at least compared to many other walks in the Brecon Beacons) and it follows mostly gravel and paved tracks.

That said, if you’re going to follow the full circular route then part of it takes you uphill and through Taf Fechan Forest. Ideally, you should still wear proper walking boots and other appropriate gear. 

Here’s what we think you should wear and pack (at a minimum) for your walk:

  • Walking boots
  • Thick boot socks
  • Walking trousers
  • Layers (so you can put more on and take more off when needed)
  • A windproof and waterproof jacket (it is Wales after all!)
  • Water (pack more than you think you’ll need)
  • Lunch (for picnicking by the side of the reservoir)
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses (some of the route is exposed to open skies)
  • Phone or camera (you’ll certainly want to take some photos on this walk!)
  • Essentials for your dog if they’re joining you (lead, poop bags, water, snacks, collapsible water bowl, etc)

Things To Do Near Pontsticill Reservoir

If you want to make a full day of it or you’re staying in the area for the weekend, then here are some other top things to do nearby.

Morlais Castle

Morlais Castle is a 13th-century castle built by the Earl of Gloucester at the time, Gilbert de Clare. Not much remains of the castle today, however, it’s housed on the site of an Iron Age fort, giving it an even richer history. Plus, the views from the tower are unreal! 

Brecon Mountain Railway

If you’d rather see views of Pontsticill Reservoir from inside an old-fashioned steam train then you might want to check out the Brecon Mountain Railway.

The railway line follows part of the original Brecon & Merthyr Railway, which closed in 1964 – and it’s such a unique way to see more of the Brecon Beacons.

Cyfarthfa Castle

Another day, another castle. This time, to see one that is still fully standing. If you want to explore the grounds of Cyfarthfa Castle – over 160 acres of it! – then this is free to do. Visiting the castle museum and art gallery is also inexpensive.

Dare Valley Country Park

If you haven’t quite had your fill of Welsh countryside, then Dare Valley Country Park offers 500 more acres well worth exploring.

You could easily spend another half-day or a full day exploring this magnificent parkland.

Other Brecon Beacons Walks & Hikes You Might Like

If you’ve decided walking around Pontsticill Reservoir isn’t for you, or you want to try some other epic walks and hikes in the Brecon Beacons, then you might want to check out:

Alternatively, if you’re looking for more Brecon Beacons reservoirs, then consider visiting nearby Talybont Reservoir, which is just 15 minutes away.

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Justine Jenkins

Justine is one half of the married couple behind the Wanderers of the World travel blog. She lives in Bristol, UK and has travelled extensively within Europe and beyond since 2013. After her trips, she shares detailed travel itineraries, helpful travel guides and inspiring blog posts about the places she's been to. When she's not travelling overseas, you'll find her joining her husband, Scott on various day trips, weekend getaways and walks within the UK, which she also writes about on Wanderers of the World. Aside from travelling and writing, she also loves reading, crafting and learning about nature.

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