Talybont Reservoir at Sunset

Talybont Reservoir Sunset

Sunset, overlooking the overflow of Talybont Dam in the Caerfanell Valley, central Brecon Beacons. Available to buy at my Photobox Gallery.

After a few weeks blogging about photos from the Alps, it’s high time to come back to the UK and the Brecon Beacons. This photo ties in to where I’ve spent a fair amount of time this summer, and indeed over the last few years -the Caerfanell valley, near Talybont-on-Usk. One of the centres I work for is just at the other of the dam, and during the school holidays we ran a Bushcraft Activity Week (like a Summer School). We had a very enjoyable time, lighting fires, building shelters and learning outdoor skills, and we’ve already started making plans for next summer. With a concerted marketing drive and a bit more planning, we hope to attract even more participants.

Even before this summer, I’ve been a regular visitor in the valley for a quite a while, as the river is a great location for fieldwork in geography and the related disciplines, which is what I do for a day-job. There’s a superb range of fluvial landforms here, and the beauty of it is, that all of it comes within the space of about 6km. In that distance, the river displays all of the characteristics of each of the classic phases of river development, although we’re still on what might be called a youthful river. I’ve put a few details on Geograph. Essentially the river goes from the bubbling mountain brook with steep sides and large rocks on the bed, to a meandering, low gradient river with smaller rocks on the bed. Ok, we aren’t talking the true final stages of a river at this point -the sediment is far too large and it’s still at around 190m above sea-level, but all the features are there: slip-off slopes, river cliffs, point bars, braiding, helicoidal flow. It just shows, I think, that the meandering process is mostly related to gradient. (For non-geographers, there is a long-running debate about why meanders form, and I as far as I know, there’s not one conclusive answer -each river seems to have it’s own influences.)

I’ve also written a bit about the waterfalls at the head of the valley before, and I find the seasonal changes here a constant source of inspiration. I’ve actually got a number of images of the river in the rest of the full gallery on Photobox, especially the falls (nearly enough for a gallery section of their own); the two in this gallery are the most striking, I think. All of this is above the dam -I have to say I’ve never really explored the area downstream -something for the future! I know this is another imperfect image -for one thing I didn’t notice my car at the edge of the frame when I was composing it, and for some bizarre reason the flash went off (this is another from before my SLR days), which highlights the fence post in the foreground. I have tweaked it a bit in the dreaded Photoshop, but I don’t like to do too much to the finished image, and cropping spoiled the balance. I know some will take this as vindication of the digital argument, but that’s one that’ll never go away -for now I’m sticking to film and that’s that! But there’s something about this picture generally that I really like -the vibrant colour, the sweep of the overflow. It’s probably one I should try again with, but whether I’d be as lucky with the sunset….


Click to order prints (opens a new window)

I’ll break with tradition here and say this looks best at sort of postcard-size if you’re going to buy it, although a big one could look good in the right circumstances…

All images © Stephen Tyrrell, Mountains, Wild Places & Water, 2013. All rights reserved.

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