Tolkien Reading Day – Where better than Talybont on Usk reservoir!
Tolkien reading day is an annual event held on the 25th March to celebrate the work of the great author J.R.R Tolkien. Why the 25th March? The fall of Sauron from Lord of the rings of course! Tolkien was at one point good friends with C. S. Lewis – the famous author of the the Narnia chronicles! (Note – this post was originally posted on 25th march on the old website. We have added more information for you on this update!)
Talybont on Usk Reservoir is a beautiful place to visit. From it’s crystal water to it’s dramatic hills, you could not wish for a more scenic destination. Wales has inspiring landscapes, giving birth to myth and legends across the world. It’s stunning scenery has inspired many over the years and strangely enough it is understood that Tolkien himself spent time in the village of Talybont on Usk in the 1940s whilst working on parts of Lord of the Rings. It is easy to see similarities between the landscape and his books. He named the hobbit settlement Crickhollow after Crickhowell, just 9 miles away.
Visiting the reservoir
The village is just a few miles from the reservoir and Talybont has a bit of everything – from a canal, 2 rivers, a reservoir, hills, woods, waterfalls, wildlife, local arts and crafts, a village shop and wi-fi cafe, 3 pubs and a restaurant. It can even boast its own fascinating history from the Iron Age to the Industrial Revolution.
We visited Talybont On Usk and loved it so much we stayed for 2 days! We looked up the location on searchforsites and decided to head here. A small layby set off of the road held enough room for around 6 comfortably. The reservoir was just 100 yards away from us and was full of life. From the waters edge the hills climb steeply creating a very protected and sheltered area. Wildlife was abundant, from the birds of prey above to the frogs and fish in the water.
We met up with a gentleman on the first night who was camping in his tent. He told of us a walk up the hill behind us that was worth a visit. The next morning we woke early to find others had joined us in the night. The car park was busy – possibly because it was Saturday. A walking group who had arranged a hike up to the ridge of the hill behind us and all around the reservoir in a circular walk. They said it would take them around 7 hours to complete with the first mile almost vertical! We let them go first as we didn’t want to embarrass them 🙂
It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
A long walk up a steep hill!
They were right, the first mile was quite good going as we followed the forestry trail up the hillside. We stopped after a couple of hours, with the sun peeking through the cloud and the reservoir looking so small beneath us. High up on the side of the hills we sat in awe of this place. We could hear a small bird of prey eeping for its mother, and food of course! We continued our walk and came across so many different plants and trees, small waterfalls where the rain was running off of the hills. Oh it was just so beautiful!
We were walking for a good 2 hours before re realised how far we had gone and then had to decided whether we turned around or carried on walking! a quick look at google maps showed we could continue and would join up at a road a mile or 2 away. Once we met the road it was a flat straight walk back to the van but our feet were very unhappy. About 2 or 3 miles on the road after walking on the gravel felt very hard to our feel and it was so much harder! We must have walked a good 7 or 8 miles.
Our walk was very different to the professional walkers, however it still took us 5 hours. We didn’t rush, and stopped to look at the many waterfalls and natural rock formations.
After that, back at the van we has a little rest and cooked some dinner on the gas hob. Some quality time to read was in order for Tolkien reading day. Where better to get lost in myth and legend? Amongst the landscape that inspired so many authors and poets of course!
To read about other areas we have travelled to, click here!