I need nothing more.” These words are scrawled in capital letters on the ceiling of Grwyne Fawr bothy, a tiny stone hut next to a mountain stream that feeds the reservoir.


This is a sentiment undoubtedly shared by many of the walkers who seek shelter within these walls, whether for brief respite from the elements or to unfurl their sleeping bag for the night.

Grwyne Fawr bothy

The bothy, a former waterworks building, is one of over 100 shelters in Britain managed by the Mountain Bothy Association (MBA).

It sleeps up to three people (on a mezzanine, up a ladder) and is sparsely furnished with a table, chairs and a wood-burning stove. While membership isn’t required to stay in the bothies, visitors are expected to adhere to the Bothy Code, which centres on a basic respect for the building, the environment and other visitors.

Bothy in a Welsh valley
The bothy sits at the upper end of the Grwyne Fawr Reservoir in the Black Mountains/Credit: James Ayres, Geograph

How to get to Grwyne Fawr bothy

Unlike many other shelters managed by the MBA, Grwyne Fawr bothy is relatively easy to get to, the only tricky bit being the steep descent to the hut from the main path.

You’ll find the bothy at the northern end of Grwyne Fawr Reservoir; a 2.5-mile uphill walk from the Blaen-y-Cwm/Mynydd Du car park. Keep your eyes peeled for wild ponies grazing among the gorse, and remnants of farmsteads that were abandoned in the late 19th century.

And of course, allow yourself some time to linger outside the bothy to watch the water cascading into the dam below, and take in views of the valley and the mighty conifers of the Mynydd Du forest.

Bothy in remote valley
The bothy sits at the north-western end of Grwyne Fawr Reservoir, built in the early 1900s to serve Monmouthshire’s growing population/Credit: FreespiritLandscape, Alamy

Grwyne Fawr Reseroir walk

After your visit to the bothy (remember to sign the guestbook) you can return the same way you came, or, for a circular route, continue along the path upstream then divert uphill on to the opposite side of the valley. Continue along the ridge heading south-east (you will pass under the Waun Fach summit, the highest mountain in the Black Mountains) until you reach the northern edge of Mynydd Du forest.


Descend the hill towards the Grwryne Fawr river. When you reach the bottom, cross the stream to your right and follow the river until you come to the footbridge. Cross the bridge and turn right along the road and you will find the car park on your left.


Abigail is a freelance writer and editor based in Hereford.