Photographing Lake Vyrnwy - Wales

Geoff Moore Adventures in Landscape Photography on Sun 10 April 2016

  • Image Title: Milky Way Over Lake Vyrnwy
  • Canon 7d Mark2 Camera used:
  • Tokina 11-20mm UWA Lens used:
  • 13mm Focal length:
  • f/2.8 Aperture:
  • 15" Exposure time:
  • 3200 ISO:

A good few hours before the planned sunrise shot, Mark and I drove  around the shores of Lake Vyrnwy looking for the best angle and location in order to shoot from, what we hadn't planned for was perhaps the best Milky Way both of us had ever seen.

This trip took us to Lake Vyrnwy, a reservoir in Powys, Wales, built in the 1880s to supply Liverpool with fresh water. It flooded the head of the Vyrnwy valley and submerged the small village of Llanwddyn. Mark had been interested in the location since seeing shots by fello photographers Stephen Spencer and Andy Bennett, so when Mark asked if it like to tag a long It would have been rude not to agree. 

Astrophotography - First go at photographing the stars

Once again this was a very early start at around 1am in the morning, we set off from Worcester and crossed in to Wales only a few minutes later, as usual the journey was full of talk and excitement about photographic opportunities that lay ahead, but it wasn't until we got to our destination did it dawn on us that it was raining, and very very dark, in fact I don't think I have seen darkness like it! It was quite unnerving having little to no ambient light, as I would later find out this is one of Wales Dark Skies Discovery Sites and we had made good time on our outbound journey we sat in the car a little and discussed our options as the rain pattered against the roof of the car. 

Living in the UK we are blessed with weather that is constantly changing, so much so, I don't think the Met Office has ever got a weather prediction right on our adventures, and the adventure to Lake Vyrnwy, was no exception. Heavy rain clouds above us began to pass as we drove around the edge of the lake soon we stumbled upon a picnic area, over looking what is the lovely Lake Vyrnwy Hotel on the opposite side of the lake. We got out of the car and looked up! No words were muttered either by Mark or myself as we both stood in complete shock and awe at the night sky and the resplendent nature of the Milky Way that arched above our heads. The heavy rain clouds had dissipated and never before had I seen the night sky this clear and with as little human light pollution, it has to be one of the most memorable moments of 2016 for me, and perhaps, the Met Office had just redeemed itself.

Morning Has Spoken
  • Image Title: Morning Has Spoken
  • Canon 7d Mark2 Camera used:
  • Canon 70-200mm F4 IS Lens used:
  • 105mm Focal length:
  • f/9 Aperture:
  • 1.5 Sec Exposure time:
  • 100 ISO:

Golden hour, morning has spoken

Having been awestruck at witnessing the Milky Way in its glory and taking several 10's of photos, the light from the new day was building and the darkness of the night was ebbing quickly away, so we decided to relocate back to the stone built dam that crosses over the lake, quite unexpectedly with the previous rainfall and clear night night sky mist and fog had started to form as the first rays of sunlight raced through the valleys below us, at first, the morning light started kissing the beautiful Berwyn Mountains tops and then slipping lower and lower until illuminating the dam and Lake Vyrnwy. A Jackdore and Blackbird made clear that a new day had begun with an enchanting tale of tweets, calls and song which was most enjoyable and I rewarded them by capturing the moment for others to enjoy too.

The Princess Tower
  • Image Title: The Princess Tower
  • Canon 7d Mark2 Camera used:
  • Tokina 11-20mm UWA Lens used:
  • 135mm Focal length:
  • f/10 Aperture:
  • 1/180 Exposure time:
  • 100 ISO:

Princess Tower photography

Looking back over the reservoir the the fog and mist had clear enough to reveal the straining tower, which I have aptly named the 'Princess Tower' for obvious reasons. At approximately 1,200 metres (0.75 mi) from the dam is the reservoir's straining tower. Standing only 30 metres (98 ft) from the shore, its purpose is to filter or strain out material in the water with a fine metal mesh, before the water flows along the aqueduct to Liverpool.Its architecture represents Gothic revival, built at the same time as the dam. The tower as a whole is 47 metres (154 ft) tall, 32 metres (104 ft) of which is above water, and is topped with a pointed copper-clad roof, coloured light green. 

Lake Vyrnwy sits just on the edge of The Snowdonia National Park and south of Lake Bala, Lake Vyrnwy is set amidst the remote and beautiful Berwyn Mountains. The Dam that was constructed in the 1800's holds back a head of water of ten thousand million gallons!

Other Images from this adventure

Bridge Over Lake Vyrnwy Bridge Over Lake Vyrnwy
Morning Breaks over Lake Vyrnwy Morning Breaks over Lake Vyrnwy

Other Images from this adventure

Morning Mist -  Lake Vyrnwy Wales Morning Mist - Lake Vyrnwy Wales
Flowing Water - Lake Vyrnwy Wales Flowing Water - Lake Vyrnwy Wales

How to get here

Enter your starting location on the box provided under the map to see the route from your starting location to Lake Vyrnwy Dam, Wales

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