Spec­tac­u­lar scenery, a dash­ing river and birds to match

Bird Watching (UK) - - Go Birding -

Aone SHORT, BUT IMPETUOUS course, was how W M Condry, of the finest Bri­tish writ­ers on nat­u­ral his­tory in the 20th Cen­tury, de­scribed the River Rheidol. Streams on the western slopes of Plyn­limon, high­est peak in the Cam­brian Moun­tains of mid-wales, are its source, not far from where both the Sev­ern and the Wye com­mence their jour­neys. Un­like these neigh­bours, the Rheidol makes but a short jour­ney – just 19 miles – to reach the sea at Aberys­t­wyth. From the Nant-ymoch reser­voir, which pro­vides wa­ter for the hy­dro-elec­tric sta­tion in the val­ley floor, the Rheidol rushes south, pass­ing through a gorge to reach Devil’s Bridge with its spec­tac­u­lar wa­ter­falls. Fi­nally, the river, joined by the My­nach, turns west to wind its way on the fi­nal part of its jour­ney. Min­ing for lead and zinc took place from at least the late 16th Cen­tury, fi­nally ceas­ing in 1933. One strik­ing re­minder of min­ing is the Vale of Rheidol Rail­way be­tween Aberys­t­wyth and Devil’s Bridge – there is no finer way to ex­pe­ri­ence the val­ley. From the car­riage win­dows, look down on soar­ing Red Kites, Buz­zards and Ravens, while en­joy­ing vis­tas like the Rheidol Falls and the Coed Simdde Lwyd na­ture re­serve, the name mean­ing ‘Wood of the Grey Chim­ney’. When open­ing the re­serve in Au­gust 1985, David Bel­lamy hugged a moss bank in ex­hil­a­ra­tion at ex­pe­ri­enc­ing such a bril­liant wood­land habi­tat. These oak wood­lands sup­port Pied Fly­catch­ers (above), Wood War­blers and Red­starts. DAVID SAUN­DERS

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