Enjoy a lofty lake swim with views of Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) followed by a sauna on the water’s edge
High above the old ironworks town of Blaenavon is Keeper’s Pond, a beautiful manmade lake with sweeping views of the Sugar Loaf and Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons).
Also known as the Pen-ffordd-goch Pond or the Forge Pond, the lake was created in 1817 to power the Garnddyrys iron forge below. The forge was dismantled in 1860s and in recent years its leftover pond has become a popular wild swimming spot, particularly famous for its stunning sunset dips.
This winter, a new wood-fired mobile sauna is providing another enticement for local swimmers – rolling up to the carpark on the water’s edge on Sundays and Monday mornings. Y Sawna seats 4-6 people and sessions can be booked beforehand, each session lasting 15 minutes.
“The sauna makes a big difference to people’s swims here; it really sets them up for the rest of the day,” says Y Sawna founder Neil Cox. “What’s really popular is a 15-minute after-swim session in the sauna to warm up. Then there’s others who are traditional sauna users who do the cold swim, sauna, cold swim, sauna – dipping in and out. Hardier cold-water swimmers can book a longer gap between their sauna sessions, so they can have a longer swim in the pond.”
There are several easy entry/exit points into the pond near the car park. It is an exposed site so bring plenty of layers to wrap up in on blustery days.
For those wanting to extend their adventure at Keeper’s Pond, there’s a 3-mile loop to the summit of Blorenge – perfect for a pre-swim hike or post-swim warm up.
Three-mile Blorenge walk from Keeper’s Pond
- From Keeper’s Pond car park (NP4 9QT, What3Words: ready.trailers.scripted), take the path to west (left) of the pond.
- At the northern end of the pond join the track heading north east and follow this for one and a half miles around the shoulder of the hill. This path follows the route of a tramway, constructed to take limestone from the quarries on Blorenge to the ironworks at Blaenavon and to transport iron from Blaenavon to the canal wharf at Llanfoist.
3. (Optional) at a small disused and overgrown quarry, take a path that forks off to the right; this joins a wider track just before the northern summit of the Blorenge.
4. Alternatively, continue on the same track until just past a small building and here turn right on a track leading towards the northern summit of the Blorenge. Here you’ll see heather moorland that supports red grouse.
5. Continue on the same track to the southern summit of Blorenge.
6. Continue along the same track to the Foxhunter car park then take the westward footpath back to back to Keepers Pond.
This route is courtesy of Visit Monmouthshire and Monmouthshire County Council Countryside Services.
Keeper’s Pond is located at NP4 9QT, What3Words: ready.trailers.scripted. There is free parking by the pond. Y Sawna visits Keeper’s Pond every Sunday (8.40am-4pm) and Monday (8.40am-12pm). Sessions can be booked via direct message on Instagram.
Read our swim-hike guide to nearby Punchbowl Lake.