The start of the trail is located just out of Cwmdauddwr, west of Rahayder along the B4518. Opposite the start is a car park signed for Trail users. The start is marked by a sculptural gateway by artist Reece Ingram (Pic1).
About half a mile along the trail you reach the Radnorshire Wildlife Trust Reserve of Rhayader Tunnel. The railway tunnel was officially ‘closed for bats’ in 1993, after undergoing modifications to increase its attractiveness to hibernating bats. The tunnel is used by Brown Long eared, Daubentons and Natterer bats, whilst the rest of the reserve is managed to encourage butterflies and other invertebrates.
Past the tunnel is the Elan Valley Junction, it is here that the ELan Valley Railway joined the Mid Wales Valley Line (Part of the Cambrian Railway). The trail continues parallel to the road, separated from it by trees, towards the Elan Estate for another 3.5km. After a short stretch along the road (about 100 metres) you reach a left turn down towards Elan Village and the visitor centre (Pic 2). Here you can either head down the lane and take a break at the visitor’s centre café, or cross the road and continue along the next section of the Trail.
Continue along side the waters of Caban Coch Reservoir to Garreg Ddu. From here you may wish to cross the viaduct for a closer look at Nantgwyllt Church (Pic 3). Otherwise continue across the road past the Foel Tower (Pic 4). The Foel Tower is the point at which water is extracted from the reservoirs before stsrting its 120km/70mile journey to Birmingham by gravity.
Continue along Garreg Ddu Reservoir for 3km, cross the road and continue up the gradual incline up through the trees to the top of Pen y Garreg Dam. The track now levels out and passes alongside Pen y Garreg Reservoir. About 1km along from Pen y Garreg Dam, you will pass through Devil’s Gulch. This cutting through the rock had to be blasted away and held up construction of the railway for 3 months.
The final stretch of the trail takes you to Craig Goch Dam, this is the end of the Elan Valley Trail and was the terminus of the railway. Notes: The purpose of the Trail is to improve access to the Elan Valley and its countryside, particularly for the less-able. The trail between Craig Gooch and Pen y Garreg is classed as a bridleway. The rest of the route however is a permissive route agreed by the landowners, namely Dwr Cymru Welsh Water. Radnorshire Wildlife Trust and Powys County Council and does not follow a right of way.