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We’re completing the work started last year to dig out the silt and spread it on the old park area down the valley. We’re also finishing off the earthworks around the turbine site. The lakeside track is closed while dump trucks are carrying silt away. The waterfall will stop flowing when the lake is drained down and the river pumped around the lake. Depending on the weather, this work is due to be completed by the end of September. We regret any inconvenience caused. We hope that you will take the opportunity to explore other paths and tracks available – there are nearly 7 miles of paths and tracks altogether.
Why are we doing this?
The lake is being reinstated to its historic form and to prevent total reversion to marshland and woodland, as part of the first stage to restore the historic landscape design:
Penllergare Valley Woods is notable as a partial survival of a very important picturesque and Romantic landscape of the mid-nineteenth century created by John Dillwyn Llewelyn, a nationally important figure in horticulture. Despite the neglect of recent decades, the well watered and wooded landscape still retains the original designed qualities of magnificence, surprise, beauty and seclusion. (Conservation Management Plan, 2008)
The upper lake, or fish pond as it was described in some old maps, was made by damming the river Llan in the 1840s. The dam, made of stone quarried in the valley, was carefully designed to mimic the natural rock strata. The falls have three channels over which the river falls in picturesque and sometimes spectacular style. The falls are one of the striking historic features of the estate.
By 1936, the lake had almost completely silted up and disappeared and was shown on maps as marshland. A partial restoration was carried out in the 1980s, but we believe that this is the first time that a full scale restoration has been attempted.
Autumn so far has brought about many exciting events and challenges. The photo below – taken in early October 2013 – shows the extent of the work currently being carried out in the north of the valley. It also shows a snippet of the vast area of woodland that we now manage for local people and wildlife – primarily through voluntary management and support. To see elements of the restoration project finally reaching completion this month has been most rewarding for us all.
You will all know that it was planned to complete the lake desilting by the end of October and to restore the silt deposit area in the middle park next summer. The end of October target was to coincide with the start of the salmon and trout migration season, when all works in rivers is suspended across the country to allow these wonderful and increasingly threatened fish to come up our rivers and streams to lay their eggs in the gravel beds, and for the eggs to hatch. The river works embargo runs from Mid October (normally) to mid April each year (for more information about this, please see – http://www.wildtrout.org/content/trout-facts)
There have been many tales that salmon – having jumped the waterfall – could be found in Upper Lake. Unfortunately there is no recent record of this, but thanks to a local visitor, Simon Dark, we finally have picture and video evidence that they are at least trying to get there.