Llys-y-Frân Lake in Pembrokeshire recently reopened to the public after a major redevelopment. I have happy memories of visiting here as a child with my grandparents and parents and then of taking our own kids here for days out. We’d often pack a picnic and drive up to see “The Dam”. A few weeks ago, Isabelle had an INSET (or “Insect” as she likes to call it!) Day, so we headed off to return to Llys-y-Frân for the first time in a number of years.
Take a look at the newly reopened Llys-y-Frân Lake:
Visiting and Parking at Llys-y-Frân
You can find Llys-y-Frân Lake off Clarbeston Road, Pembrokeshire, Sat Nav Postcode: SA63 4RR. The park is situated in West Wales near the foot of the Preseli Hills, approximately 11 miles northeast of the County Town of Haverfordwest and 2 miles south of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. We travelled from Haverfordwest, taking the B4329 towards Scolton Manor, but turning off towards Clarbeston Road. However, there are numerous routes you could follow. Llys-y-Frân is well signposted.
Licenced Plate Recognition Parking
Arriving at the newly opened site, we discovered that Llys-y-Frân now uses Licence Plate Recognition (LPR) parking. Just park up then pay before you leave either using the Pay to Park App or input your car registration into the onsite ticket machine, found in the Information area. We couldn’t pay on the App during our visit so used the machine. Izzy laughed seeing a photo of us arriving at Llys-y-Frân pop up on the screen. Parking costs £3 for the day, making a day at Llys-y-Frân a great value day out.
Llys-y-Frân Reservoir is free to enter apart from the parking charge. There is a Cafe and Gift Shop within the Visitor Centre and there will soon be an immersive visitor experience room too. There are also activities available to book for an extra cost too, including archery, stand-up paddleboarding, and swimming. Currently there is a children’s playground, lots of walks (and cycles) and the stunning views to enjoy.
The new children’s adventure playground is perfectly situated within Llys-y-Fran overlooking the Dam and reservoir. It’s close to both the car park and the Visitor Centre, making it convenient to carry your picnic from the car or take away food from the cafe and enjoy on one of the Adventure Playground picnic benches, all while enjoying the view. It’s a great halfway stop between the car park and walk to the Dam too.
The park has many features including swings, slides, climbing frames, rockers and a mini zip wire. There are also plans for a dedicated dog park coming soon.
Llys-y-Fran Dam and Reservoir ,
Heading down the hill after the park and you are greeted by a lovely view of the dam. It’s particularly spectacular when there is water running down the spillway, such as in the photo below taken during a previous visit.
Wikipedia tells us: “Llys-y-Frân dam was constructed between 1968 and 1972 by Sir Lindsay Parkinson & Co. Ltd. The reservoir it impounds covers 212 acres (86 ha) and is surrounded by a grassland and woodland Country Park of 350 acres (140 ha), including the area of the reservoir. It is managed by Welsh Water and is one of 81 reservoirs in Wales. The dam is 100 feet (30 m) high and the lake is fed by the River Syfynwy (or Syfni) that also feeds Rosebush Reservoir a few miles upstream to the northeast.”
It’s a great place to visit to learn about water, how we get our water, how we use water and how to save water. I’m hoping there will be more educational experiences here planned for the future.
Land Adventures and Activities
Walking down to the Dam we spotted a not quite opened archery court. There will also be a climbing wall and an electric off-road driving experience for 11- 16-year-olds as part of their land adventures and activities.
Memorial to William Penfro Rowlands
Continuing our walk past the Dam we came to a memorial to William Penfro Rowlands. The ivy-covered ruin, just visible behind the fence was the dwelling called Dan-y-Coed (under the woods), the birthplace of William Penfro Rowlands (1860-1937) who composed the well-known hymn tune Blaenwern, itself named for a nearby farm. The memorial was installed by Welsh Water in 1993, at the request of the local community.
Blaenwern & Calon Lan
The tune Blaenwern is often used to sing “Calon Lan” (Pure Heart) by Daniel James. In English, it is usually set to Charles Wesley’s “Love Divine”. The American Evangelist, Billy Graham, also used the tune for “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”. It’s a beautiful tune and very special to think that the composer was born just here.
The Memorial Garden is a very poignant place to visit within the park. It’s a short walk around a memorial garden, created to remember lost children. The sign says “This is a place of remembrance but please do allow your children to explore and enjoy playing outdoors among the trees.”
Our kids have always been quietly respectful of the memorials. They like to read about the lost loved ones and to think about their families. I think it’s important that the children will always be remembered by future generations who come to visit this garden. It’s also apt that children are encouraged to play here amongst the trees as we recognise that in an ideal world, all children would get the chance to do so.
The tree plaque reads:
“This tree celebrates the joy that children give and remembers them all after their death.”
Thinking of all the families of these very much loved children.
From the memorial Garden, you can continue up a hill and round the “old top car park” now the upper park, from where you can enjoy stunning views and a continued walk. When I was younger you could drive up here too, which was especially useful for my grandparents. We didn’t have time on this occasion, as I still needed to get home to collect the older girls from school. Therefore we headed back up the hill towards the Visitor Centre.
The walk around the reservoir is accessible, but beware it is, as to be expected quite a steep hill. You can cut through and walk up steps or take the longer but less steep road. In the past, I’ve had to go the long way with pushchairs so we made the mosy of going up the steps on this occasion.
Along the walk we enjoyed the views of the Dam, spotting wildlife, such as ladybirds and another play in the park.
Eating at Llys-y-Fran
As it was just Izzy and me, we decided to try out the cafe. I was so happy to see they have vegan options available. I had a Hummus roll and I have to say the bread roll was so fresh, it was very enjoyable. They even had a vegan brownie for sale for pudding so I couldn’t resist. I’ve since seen they have lots of vegan jacket potato toppings available, loaded dirty fries and homemade vegan Jaffa Cake.
We took our lunch and enjoyed it at one of the picnic tables by the park. It was a lovely spot to enjoy the view and for Izzy to have one last play before it was time to pick the kids up. You could always pack a picnic for your visit too.
Walking at Llys-y-Fran
We had planned to take the short walk to see St Meilyr’s Church but our time was running out so we’ll definitely visit the church next time. There are lots of walking routes to choose from whether you want to walk one mile or seven.
With over 200 acres of water, there’s plenty of space for water adventures at Llys-y-Fran. Currently, they offer Stand Up Paddle Boarding, Stand Up Pedal Boarding, and Kayaking or Canoeing. You can hire equipment or bring your own. Open Water Swimming will be coming soon.
I’m so happy that Llys-y-Fran is now reopened to the public, we’ve really missed visiting here. I can’t wait to come back soon with the rest of the family. We’d love to try the water adventures one day too.
Have you visited Llys-y-Fran recently? Let me know what you thought!