Mach Loop 10 Things you need to know

Mach Loop 10 Things you need to know

Mach Loop 10 Things you need to know

In this post, I list 10 things that you need to know before venturing to the Mach Loop in Wales for the first time. I also offer 8 tips that I know will help make your day an unforgettable adventure. Also, I offer 5 reasons why I still frequent the Loop.

If you’re not familiar with the Mach Loop, I have also written a brief history of the place. I have also collated a few interesting facts too!

A further point of interest… all the images displayed on this page were captured over a two-day period – the 5th & 6th of July 2023

You need to know this before venturing to the Mach Loop

At the time of creating this video, the UK schools are breaking up for their summer holidays. This generally means that lots of families gravitate towards the Mach Loop. For most people, this will be their first visit.

The Mach Loop is located in Mid Wales. The best vantage areas are atop mountains. Going to mountain tops comes with many problems and dangers. Difficult situations that are very often overlooked.

The hike up, the ever-changing weather and the lack of toilets to name a few are things that most people wouldn’t even consider.

In this video, I break down the 10 things you need to know before considering venturing to one of the many incredible vantage points.

Plus, 8 tips to help you have a great visit.

Mach Loop Wales Fun Facts

Mach Loop 10 Things you need to know

  1. Busy, especially in the school holidays
  2. No guarantees of seeing anything
  3. Parking – It can be a real nightmare.
  4. It’s a hike – No matter what vantage area you choose, you still have to endure a huff-n-puff walk. Sometimes it can be quite steep too.The main areas of Cad East/West + Bwlch are tough climbs if you’re not in shape. They should not be attempted if you’re not medically fit.
  5. It’s a dangerous place, especially for kids! Young children will soon get bored there too!
  6. No toilets – The chances are you will be there all day and there are no toilets!
  7. Midges and ticks in the summer – during warm windless days midges can be really annoying!
  8. The elements – There is no shelter from the wind, rain the Sun, heat or the cold. Unless you carry a popup tent!
  9. Limited phone signal. EE is great but most other providers are a real hit and miss
  10. There is no timetable!
    You can find a timetable online but it has nothing to do with the Mach Loop.
    AVOID asking loopers about a timetable!

5 Reasons why I still love the Mach Loop

  1. It’s incredible to witness aircraft flying through the loop. Especially from this unique perspective. Nothing beats it!
  2. Seeing rare aircraft fly through – In the film above I ticked another box, it was a real rarity. A Navy Merlin.
  3. Meeting really nice like-minded people.
  4. It’s a picturesque place to be, especially with your camera.
  5. Photographing or filming aircraft is actually very easy. It’s even great to photograph or film them on your phone.

Helpful tips 

  1. Car share. Meet at a local lay-by and car share. There are a couple of lay-bys just down the road from the Cross Foxes pub 
  2. Wear appropriate clothing. It can get really chilly when you’re standing around sometimes. Plus, you have the Welsh weather to consider!
  3. Pack your Sun and midge cream  
  4. Prepare for a long day.
  5. Take plenty of drink and food 
  6. Arrive early and leave late. Aircraft often fly outside of normal working hours.  
  7. Avoid UK & American public holidays and I’d suggest leaving a day on either side.  
  8. Aircraft normally fly through the loop during normal working hours (9-5 Monday to Friday) 

Frequently Asked Questions

Looking for answers to any of the following questions…
Where is the Mach Loop?
Where can I park?
When do they fly?
Is there a timetable?
How far is the walk/climb?
What camera/lens?
Can I camp there?
Where can I stay?
Visit the Official Mach Loop Guide I created. CLICK


The Mach Loop, located in Wales, is a popular destination for aviation enthusiasts and military plane spotters. It is a series of valleys and hills that provide a unique vantage point to observe low-flying military aircraft performing training exercises. The history of the Mach Loop dates back several decades and is intertwined with the development of military aviation in the United Kingdom. In this essay, we will explore the history of the Mach Loop in Wales, highlighting its significance and evolution over time.

The Mach Loop, also known as the Machynlleth Loop, is situated in the Cadair Idris mountain range near the town of Machynlleth in central Wales. The area gained its popularity due to its proximity to several military bases and training areas, including the Royal Air Force (RAF) Valley and RAF Mona. These bases have been instrumental in the training of military pilots, particularly those flying fast jets.

The history of the Mach Loop can be traced back to the early 1960s when the military recognized the need for suitable training areas for low-level flying. The rugged terrain and sparsely populated valleys of Wales provided an ideal environment for such training exercises. The valleys allowed pilots to practice low-level flying skills, terrain masking, and tactical manoeuvres, simulating real-world combat scenarios.

In the early years, the Mach Loop was primarily used by RAF pilots flying the F-4 Phantom and later the Jaguar aircraft. These aircraft were known for their low-level flying capabilities, and the challenging terrain of the Mach Loop provided an excellent training ground for honing their skills. As the years passed, the loop continued to gain recognition among military aviators, and its popularity grew among aviation enthusiasts.

In the 1990s, the Mach Loop became a well-known location for military aviation enthusiasts, who would flock to the area to witness the low-level flights firsthand. With the rise of the internet and online forums, the Mach Loop gained even more prominence, as enthusiasts shared their experiences, photographs, and videos of the aircraft in action. The loop became a hub for photographers and videographers looking to capture stunning images of military planes flying at close quarters.

The Mach Loop received further attention in 2008 when Prince William, then a Flight Lieutenant with the RAF, underwent helicopter training at RAF Valley. His presence in the area brought international media attention, and the Mach Loop became a topic of discussion beyond aviation circles.

Over time, the Mach Loop has witnessed changes in the types of aircraft utilizing the training area. The F-4 Phantom and Jaguar gave way to newer aircraft like the Tornado GR4 and, more recently, the Eurofighter Typhoon. These aircraft, with their advanced avionics and capabilities, continued to utilize the Mach Loop for training purposes, maintaining its relevance in military aviation.

The Mach Loop has also attracted the attention of international air forces, with pilots from NATO and allied nations utilizing the area for joint exercises and training missions. The loop’s reputation as a challenging and realistic training ground has made it a sought-after location for pilots from various countries.

In recent years, the Mach Loop has faced some challenges due to increased concerns over noise pollution and safety. Local residents have raised objections to the noise generated by the low-flying aircraft, leading to discussions between the military, local authorities, and community representatives to address these concerns. Efforts have been made to mitigate the impact on local communities while ensuring the continued availability of the Mach Loop for military training.

In conclusion, the Mach Loop in Wales has a rich history that spans several decades. From its humble beginnings as a training ground for RAF pilots to its international recognition as a hub for aviation enthusiasts, the loop has played a significant role in military aviation. It has provided a unique environment for pilots to practice low-level flying and tactical manoeuvres while captivating spectators with its close-up views of military aircraft. As the Mach Loop continues to evolve, striking a balance between military training needs and the concerns of local communities will be crucial to its future.


Mach Loop Wales interesting facts

  1. Origin of the Name: The name “Mach Loop” comes from the nearby town of Machynlleth, which is located in Powys, Wales. The loop refers to the circuitous flight path that the aircraft take as they navigate through the valleys.
  2. Natural Amphitheater: The Mach Loop’s unique topography creates a natural amphitheatre that allows spectators to have exceptional views of the low-flying aircraft. The hills and valleys provide excellent vantage points for photographers and plane spotters.
  3. Famous Location: The Mach Loop has gained international recognition and has been featured in numerous aviation documentaries, television programs, and online videos. Its popularity among aviation enthusiasts has made it a must-visit destination for plane spotters from around the world.
  4. Diverse Aircraft: The Mach Loop has seen a wide variety of aircraft flying through its valleys. These include military jets such as the Eurofighter Typhoon, F-15E Strike Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, and C-130 Hercules, among others. Helicopters like the Apache and Chinook have also been spotted in the loop.
  5. Challenging Flying Conditions: The Mach Loop offers a challenging environment for pilots due to the narrow valleys, sharp turns, and rapidly changing terrain. It allows them to practice their skills in low-level flying, terrain masking, and tactical manoeuvres, preparing them for real-world combat scenarios.
  6. International Participation: The Mach Loop is not limited to the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the British military. It has become a popular location for international air forces, including the United States Air Force, NATO allies, and other countries, who utilize the area for joint training exercises.
  7. Prince William’s Training: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and second in line to the British throne, underwent helicopter training at RAF Valley, which is located near the Mach Loop. His presence in the area drew significant attention and added to the loop’s popularity.
  8. Social Media Phenomenon: With the rise of social media platforms like YouTube and Instagram, the Mach Loop has gained widespread exposure. Aviation enthusiasts share their photos and videos of the aircraft flying through the valleys, making it a trending topic among aviation communities.
  9. Accessible Viewing Points: The Mach Loop offers several accessible viewpoints for spectators. Some popular locations include Cad West, Cad East, and Bwlch Nant yr Arian. These spots provide unobstructed views of the aircraft as they pass by at low altitudes.
  10. Local Community Concerns: Despite its popularity, the Mach Loop has faced some challenges due to noise pollution and safety concerns raised by local residents. This has led to ongoing discussions between the military, local authorities, and community representatives to address these issues while ensuring the continued availability of the loop for training purposes.

These interesting facts highlight the significance and allure of the Mach Loop in Wales. It is a unique location that brings together aviation enthusiasts, military pilots, and international air forces, all drawn by the opportunity to witness and participate in low-level flying exercises in a breathtaking setting.


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