"Mach Loop" Machynlleth by AC_spotter

Machynlleth Travel Guide: 6 reviews and 39 photos

Caution: low flying aircraft!

The Brittish government has deployed it's forces into conflict zones for a long time now. Besides the Armed Forces and Royal Navy the RAF (Royal Air Force) has a large role to fulfill it's duty there. Many diffrent tactics are used and all must be trained. Tactics like Dog Fighting, Air-To-Air Refueling and bombing and gunnary practice at the Shooting ranges. Another is low flying through hills and mountains to avoid radar contact. The United Kingdom had many mountain ranges and the RAF makes gladfully use of it. Besides parts of Scotland and Cumbria the Welsh mountains and hills are a perfect place.
All of Wales is low flying area and can have RAF, or foreigh flying machines passing through from time to time. A well known bottle neck valley where just about all pilots must navigate through is between Dolgellau, Machynlleth, Corris and Dinas. Because this makes a circle and quite some pilots go around it it is known as the 'Mach Loop'.

Like fishing

Some people use the saying "Spotting is just like Fishing" and going to the Loop to make aircraft photos is in more ways then others, just like fishing. You must get to a good spot to get a potentially good catch.
You build up a small camp with your bag, equipment and food.
Then you wait, staring at that one spot.
A lot of spotters and aviation photographers go up the mountains for those special action photos. This is sparked mostly by the internet and magazines where people see what great results others have made. I though it would be pretty busy but how wrong was I. Sometimes waiting for two hours staring at one point in the hills.. But then, result after banking right, then left and right again it's clearly another Hawk again. At least it's something and it may look dramatic on camera. The pilot banks left again between the grassy, rocky and sheepy slopes. Reviewing the pictures reveales the instructor sitting in the back seat waiving at us. They know when the weather is good there is an audiance for thair heafy training.


The Welsh countryside has a unique katacter with many touristical features. With it's steep mountain faces, large hills, waterfalls and lakes, sheeps and traditional buildings it's a beautiful place. That's why not everybody likes the presance of the RAF with it's noisy jets going overhead very low. A farmer even painted the words "RAF *** off!!" on his shed roof, so the story goes. Still the RAF needs a place like this and due to it's higher airspace above beeing pretty quite the Military jets can go in and out of the lower airspace easely. A compromise between the RAF's, and local needs will have to be cept.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Beautiful landscape and great action when aircraft come by
  • Cons:No warning till aircraft come by and sometimes it's a long wait for it. The weather can be harsh and hard to predict
  • In a nutshell:Breathtaking landscape where the RAF streaks through
  • Last visit to Machynlleth: Jul 2007
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Comments (1)

  • pattypoo's Profile Photo
    Jun 3, 2008 at 12:33 AM

    Hi Rene. Nice to see you have been to Wales, and your photos of the planes are amazing. Yes we have airforce planes at Pembrey Sands aswell, and some of us dont approve as you said, but they need to practice somewhere don't they...


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