Llanwddyn Folk Festival and Lake Vyrnwy


Programme Cover - Llanwddyn Folk Festival 2022

Mary & I have just returned from the Llanwddyn Folk & Acoustic Weekend (2022) - an annual festival in the village/community hall. Llanwddyn (pronounced Clanuthin or something like that!) is a small village near Lake Vyrnwy (pronounced Vernwee or something like that!). The original village lies below the waters of Lake Vyrnwy behind a dam built by the Victorians to supply Liverpool with fresh water.

Lake Vyrnwy Dam

The residents of the original village of Llanwddyn - comprising a church, two chapels, three inns, ten farmhouses and 37 houses - were not consulted about the dam and, unsuccessfully, raised a petition against it being built. The current village has no pubs or chapels but gained a school (now closed and part-used as the village hall), a shop and small petrol station. 

During past visits, water could often be seen cascading over the top of the dam but the recent hot & dry weather certainly put paid to that. Indeed, there were local news reports that parts of the old village were visible as water levels in the reservoir dropped this summer. Levels were certainly low when we arrived for the folk festival...

Panoramic view of Lake Vyrnwy from the dam looking NW

...but not as bad as I had expected. We did not see any remains of the original village which is located at the far end of the reservoir.

We arrived on the Friday and set up camp...

Vacanza Campervan

For longer stays, we take our Airbeam awning but it does take up a lot of space in the back of the campervan. For shorter trips, Mary has made this simple awning out of ripstop nylon which packs away to nothing. This was its first outing and proved a success - minor modifications were made on site and it perfomed admirably in wind and rain.

We had some free time on Saturday morning so took the opportunity to visit Lake Vyrnwy via a short walk along part of Glyndwr's Way. The flowering season is noticeably later in the Welsh Hills compared with Herefordshire. Meadowsweet was still out and harebells lined the path...

Harebells along Glyndwr's Way

...while a lone bee collects nectar from late-flowering field scabious.

Bee on field scabious

Lake Vyrnwy is a popular beauty spot and has a range of facilities: cafe, bike hire, water sports, car park with EV charging points, children's playground, sculpture trail, RSPB Nature Reserve with a number of marked trails, hotel and spa, and more.

Ornate bench near car park/playground

Start of the Sculpture Trail

Adjacent to Artisans cafe is a RSPB hide which offers great viewing of woodland birds such as this siskin...

Siskin on feeder (Lake Vyrnwy RSPB Hide)

Great tits, coal tits and blue tits...

Blue Tit on feeder (Lake Vyrnwy RSPB Hide)

A female chaffinch is feeding before being rudely interrupted by a blue tit...

And a nuthatch adopts its familiar upside pose while eating...

Note: Bird photos and videos taken with Pixel 4a phone through the glass window of the Lake Vyrnwy RSPB hide

As we made our way back to the campsite for lunch, a quick look back at the dam through the trees...

River Vyrnwy looking back towards the weir and dam

After a quick lunch, it was off to the Saturday concerts.

Marie Little - unfortunately, due to a failed clutch on her motorhome, Marie was on the back of a recovery lorry heading back home when she should have been performing. Fortunately, our hosts (Ruth and Ken Powell) stepped in and saved the day!

Harriet Earis - brilliant harpist doing old and new music. Bought the CD

Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer - polished performers with great stage presence. Bought the CD.

The Lost Notes - a five-piece folk band from Birmingham who appeared as a four-piece because their double bassist got lost somewhere in South Wales when he should have been much much further north in Llanwddyn! Good fun though a tendency for the vocals to get drowned out. The main guitarist (Oli Jobes) was exceptional.

Cor Penbontfawr - we both love a male voice choir!

Honey and the Bear - Harmonious duo from East Anglia joined by a fiddle/whistle and a percussionist. Lovely songs and clear vocals. Expect to see and hear more from them.

Jez Lowe - brilliant and well-known singer-songwriter from County Durham. Go see if you get the chance. Funny and poignant songs. Jez had his car, containing all his instruments, stolen in Walsall a few days earlier and had to borrow one of Ken Powell's hand-made guitars for the concert. I expect there will be a song about it soon!

Martyn Joseph - they don't come any more intense than Martyn. His protest songs have a lament that cannot help but tug at your heartstrings. A music journalist once suggested Martyn made Leonard Cohen sound like Julie Andrews. At times you could close your eyes and think you were listening to 'The Boss' which is why Martyn is sometimes dubbed the 'Welsh Springsteen'

On Sunday, we packed up early and headed off home, stopping for a while in Newtown where the annual Food Festival was happening...

Newtown Food Festival 2022

And still time to pop into a few venues taking part in the Herefordshire Art Week before arriving exhausted at our final destination - HOME.


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