Picture this. After clambering over a shrub-covered hilltop, you find yourself peering down at a pristine body of turquoise-blue water. Surrounded by dense fir trees and rolling hills, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in middle of a Scandinavian forest, or perhaps somewhere in New Zealand.
But you’re not. This is the Brombil reservoir in the valleys of Margam, south Wales. The reservoir is a flooded colliery (coal mine) and has turned that bright shade of blue because of algae. Catch it in the right light and it almost seems to glow.
The UK doesn’t have many glacial lakes, but Brombil does a damn good impression of one. With its rich turquoise hue and secluded surroundings, it really wouldn’t be a surprise to find out that it were actually a sub-pool of Lake Bled, or a small pond in Montana’s Glacier National Park.
But though the 100-foot-deep reservoir might look very nice for a dip, be wary. The cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) that colour the water are dangerous to dogs, and they can also cause rashes and gastrointestinal issues in humans. It’s best to leave any swimming to the nearby beach at Port Talbot.
Brombil became something of a social-media sensation earlier this year, and rather unsurprisingly, people being the shitheads they are, that led to widespread illegal parking, littering and dog fouling in the surrounding area. Since then, local authorities have stepped up police patrols around the reservoir and nearby roads, fining those in breach of parking and littering laws.
So feel free to head on down to this surreal sight just outside one of south Wales’s biggest towns. But also: be a responsible tourist. Park where you’re supposed to, clean up after your mutt and take all your rubbish home with you.
Now have a go at guessing where this highly beautiful and extravagant building is. Clue: it’s not Florence.