A return visit to Penllergare Valley Woods hydropower scheme

On our recent trip to the London we decided to bring the car and take the ferry to Fishguard to visit some of the hydropower sites we have worked on over the last year. Our first port of call was a visit to Penllergare Valley Woods, a picturesque landscape hidden away in a steep valley just a stone’s throw, yet a world away, from the M4 in north Swansea.

The Archimedean Screw along side the man made waterfall

The Archimedean Screw along side the man made waterfall

As part of the upgrade and restoration of Penllergare Valley Woods a 30kW Archimedean Screw Hydro Turbine was installed to ensure a sustainable future for Penllergare Valley. A little over a year ago the hydropower scheme was commissioned and is now generating clean green electricity to power the new visitor centre with excess being sold back to the national grid. The Archimedean Screw with a length of 11m and a capacity of 2880 m3/h is situated next to the waterfall. The enclosed compact design was the preferred design of screw for this particular site as the design minimised the installation cost and doesn’t intrude on the existing landscape.

30kW Archimedean Screw

30kW Archimedean Screw

With its lakes and waterfalls, terraces, panoramic views, exotic trees and shrubs, this forgotten Victorian paradise is being slowly restored and brought back to life by the Penllergare Trust. Penllergare Valley Woods was once a famous gentry estate and home to John Dillwyn Llewelyn, the notable 19-century horticulturalist, philanthropist and pioneering photographer. It is Llewelyn’s design, vision and influence behind the picturesque and romantic landscapes of the park.

A return visit to Penllergare Valley Woods Hydropower schemePenllergare Valley Woods is a place where you can enjoy the sound of birds, delight in the profusion of wild flowers, discover evidence of exotic plantings and uncover for yourself the hidden features of a grand design. Wildlife research carried out by Swansea Council has found the estate is very significant for amphibians and acts as a “corridor” for animals to thrive and move about.

One of the many ancient Rhododendrons in full bloom

One of the many ancient Rhododendrons in full bloom

Through hard work, persistence and community spirit by local volunteers and with the financial support of sponsors and the Friends of Penllergare membership scheme, they have been working hard over the last decade or so to maintain and to restore the Penllergare landscape to the romantic style shown in the photographs of John Dillwyn Llewelyn who created it. The rhododendrons, the legacy of the ‘plant hunting’ Dillwyn Llewlyn family in the 19th centurywere a popular sight along every walk way.
Beautiful woodland walk

Beautiful woodland walk

It was obvious throughout our visit that volunteers had been working hard replanting specimen trees and ornamental shrubberies which had been lost from the existing landscape. They have also been thinning and managing areas of dense trees and shrub to reopen historic views.
A return visit to Penllergare Valley Woods hydropower scheme
Visitors can enjoy over 12km of walks including along the Carriage Drive to the now demolished former home of the Dillwyn Llewelyn family, and also down into the gorge where the family created the upper lake with a stunning man made waterfall. Paths and tracks lead on down alongside the afon Llan as it meanders its way to Fforest fach.
A return visit to Penllergare Valley Woods Hydropower scheme
A return visit to Penllergare Valley Woods Hydropower schemeThroughout the last few years the upper lake has been de-silted, and steps, terraces, the stone-arched Llewelyn bridge, waterfalls and cascades have been repaired and restored to reinstate the picturesque and romantic design.
Some of the many ancient trees

Some of the many ancient trees

A return visit to Penllergare Valley Woods hydropower schemeUsing photographic evidence from the 19th century, the old stone bridge was recreated in the traditional style by local stonemasons.

The original stone bridge

The recreated stone bridge

After walking for hours and checking out the Archimedean Screw we spent some time browsing through the information books and leaflets in the visitor centre and then enjoyed a cup of coffee at the small cafe which has stunning views from the cafe terrace to the upper lake. If you’re ever in the area it is well worth a visit. Dogs are also welcome 🙂 🙂

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