5 minutes drive to the Elan Valley

Places of Interest - Rhayader, Mid-Wales

For more information on Rhayader and places that might interest you please visit the local town website www.rhayader.co.uk.

Rhayader - which is the oldest town in Mid-Wales, dating back to the 5th century, is situated in the very centre of Wales. Midway both between the Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia, and Aberystwyth and Hereford, Rhayader, which is on the edge of the Elan Valley and surrounded by the Cambrian Mountains, is an excellent centre for a holiday. The many interests which can be enjoyed in the area include: bird-watching, pony trekking, walking, fishingnatural history, and archaeology. In addition to many other things, there are famous cavesnarrow gauge railways, gardens, museums, a glass factory, and the theatre to visit. Also, mainly in the summer, there are Festivals - e.g. Literature, Music. Or if you are interested in alternative technology there is a Centre for you to visit at Machynlleth. 

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Bird Watching, Fishing and Rhayader

Red Kite - On the edge of Rhayader is Gigrin Farm, a working farm, which was Wales' first official Red Kite Feeding Centre. At 2pm in the winter, 3pm in the summer, Red Kites gather to be fed, together with Goshawks, Ravens and Buzzards. At another feeding station on the farm smaller birds are fed and the visitors can see Yellow Hammers, Redstarts, Brambling, and Siskin.

Mid Wales Falconry, which was set up as a dedicated school for falconry has amongst the best flying ground in the United Kingdom. 

River Wye - Rhayader and Fishing - The name Rhayader is derived from “Rhaeadr Gwy” - Waterfall on the Wye. The original waterfall was blown up in 1780 to make way for the bridge so now only the remains can be seen. Rhayader is the first town on the river Wye, which rises 20 miles away from its source on the Plynlimon range of the Cambrian Mountains, and the Wye is one of Wales' most famous trout and salmon river, the other being the Usk. The Rhayader and Elan Valley Angling Association, which controls reasonably priced permits available from the local newsagent, offer fly fishing for rainbow and brown trout and angling for carp. Also, for the coarse angler there is native chub, perch roach and pike in beautiful waters of the surrounding countryside, including the spring-fed lake called Llyngwyn, “White Lake”. This lake was originally stocked with carp from central Europe in the 12th century by Cistercian monks from the nearby Abbey-Cwm-Hir. For the fisherman, the main attraction in the waters of the area, where the Welsh International Bank Fly Fishing championships is held each year, is the salmon, native brown trout and grayling.

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The Gilfach Nature Reserve - which has a wide variety of habitats, is on the Cambrian Mountains, situated where the Marteg River meets the River Wye. The enclosed meadow, high moorland, woodland and rocky upland rivers of the Reserve support an abundance of animals and birds. The Cambrian Mountains area encompasses Plynlimon, which is the highest mountain in Mid Wales at 2468ft., and the huge upland area known as Elenydd. It includes the headwaters of many of the great rivers of Wales; Severn, Wye, Rheidol, Ystwyth, Elan, Teifi, Tywi, and Irfon. 

The Elan Valley Estate - which is owned by Dwr Cymru Welsh Water and mostly vested in the Elan Valley Trust, a charity, is 70 square miles of moorland, river, bog, woodland and reservoir. The Estate, situated within the Cambrian Mountains, is mostly covered by 12 separate Sites of Special Scientific Interest. 

The Claerwen National Nature Reserve, on The Elan Valley Estate, is where species such as bog rosemary, cotton grasses and bog mosses are conserved and scarce birds such as the golden plover and dunlin feed and breed. 

The Elan Valley Visitor Centre - provides moonlit mammal safaris, badger watches and bug hunts. 

The National Showcaves Centre for Wales, in the Brecon Beacons, is “one of the principality’s top visitor attractions”. They include the “Dan-yr-Ogof Cave“, found in 1912 by 2 brothers who were local farmers;“the Cathedral Cave”, discovered in 1953, where a lake is fed by 2 cascading waterfalls; and ”the Bone Cave”, so-called because over 42 human skeletons were found there, many dating back to the Bronze Age. There is also a replica Iron Age Farm; a Shire Horse Centre, a Victorian Farm, and the award winning “Dinosaur Park” is one of the largest in the world.

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Misc Places of Interest

Welsh Royal Crystal - which is based in Rhayader, is Wales’ only commercial maker of handmade Welsh Crystal. Visitors can see demonstrations glass blowing, cutting, decorating and polishing.

Theatre - Theatr Hafren, Newtown, Powys. Opera - Mid Wales Opera has established itself as one of the foremost British touring opera companies. 

Library - The National Library of Wales at Aberystwyth is one of the great libraries of the world and, throughout the year, features a wide collection of works and exhibitions about Wales. 

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The Centre for Alternative Energy - is at Machynlleth. On arrival, you ascend 180ft by a water powered cliff railway to the seven-acre display site which includes interactive displays demonstrating the power of wind, water and sun. There are also working examples of environmentally responsible buildings, energy conservation, organic growing and composting. 

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Narrow Gauge Railways - Mid-Wales is also popular for its sailing, canoeing and canal cruising. Other activities include: rally driving, climbing and mountain biking, caving, cycling and quad biking. For golfers there are 9- and 18-hole courses, many with spectacular views. Another way of seeing the beauty of the Welsh countryside is with the enjoyment of travelling on one of the Narrow Guage Railways. 

The Brecon Mountain Railway, built on the track bed of the former Brecon and Merthyr Railway, is a 2' gauge line of 3.5 miles length running through part of the spectacular Brecon Beacons National Park in spacious and comfortable coaches. Its headquarters,(and only station with car parking) is at Pant, just North of Merthyr Tdfil. The line currently runs, downhill through a valley in the Brecon Beacons, to Pontsticill. 

The Teifi Valley Railway’s main station is at the South Wales village of Henllan near Newcastle Emlyn,in Dyfed. The 2' gauge railway offers steam hauled trains on a four mile round trip along the wooded valley of the river Teifi to its teminus at Pontprenshitw. The Alan George, built in 1894 by the Hunslet Engine Company, for services in the Penryhn Quarries in North Wales, and Sgt Murphy, built by Kerr Stuart at Stoke on Trent in 1918 are the two steam engines which move the majority of the passenger trains on the line. 

The Bala Lake Railway - a 2' gauge railway, which runs practically the full length of Bala Lake (“Llyn Tegid”) from its headquarters, in Gwynedd, at Llanuwchllyn to Bala. The lake, situated at the confluence of the rivers Dee and Tryweryn, is the largest natural lake in Wales, surrounded by mountains rising to almost 3000ft. Modern coaches are hauled by historic steam engines. The railway follows the track bed of the Bala to Dolgellau railway, built in 1868, as part of Britain’s standard gauge rail network, and was first opened in 1972. The first steam trains were hauled by Maid Marion, bought from the Dinorwic slate quarry, an engine which still serves on the railway today.

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Powis Castle, Welshpool - a world famous garden with Italianate terraces. This 17th century garden, based on designs from William Winde, has magnificent hanging terraces including an Italianate terrace inspired by the palace of St Germain-en Laye in France. Plants on the walls at Powis Castle include roses, pomegranates and other rare plants. In spring is the beauty and colour of the rhododendrons and azaleas, and in the autumn, rich and lovely tints. Many plant varieties are provided by the adjoining nursery.

Aberglasney Gardens, at Llangathen in Carmarthenshire, is a fascinating garden covering approximately 10 acres,including 2 woodlands. The gardens were restored in 1995 but it’s history spans many centuries. Aberglasney is situated in the lovely Tywi Valley,the ruined castles of which are a reminder of the turbulent times of the Middle Ages,and during this time knowledge of the people who owned what became the future Aberglasney is dependent on tradition. More is known of from the fifteenth century and in 1470 it was recorded that it had 'nine green gardens, orchards, vines and young oaks. Today visitors can, amongst other things, see the Cloister Garden, the Yew Tunnel, the Pool Garden, the Walled Gardens,and "Bishop Rudd’s Walk. 

Welshpool, where the following 2 gardens are found, is a bustling market town situated in the upper reaches of the Severn Valley. It is home to the largest sheep market in Europe.

Glansevern Hall, at Berriew, Welshpool, in Powys, is a Greek Revival house, surrounded by a landscaped park from the early 1800's. There is a woodland,with Rhododendrons and specimen trees from the Victorian period, a large lake, a water garden, a large rock garden with grotto and walks through the woodland to the banks of the River Severn. A more formal aspect of the garden are the colourful borders around the house, and roses in the walled garden.

The Dingle at Welshpool in Powys is an “internationally acclaimed” four-acre secluded and beautiful garden, created by Mrs Barbara Joseph. The garden includes lakeside and woodland areas, as well as colour-themed and unusual planting. 

National Botanic Garden of Wales - set in the beautiful Towy Valley of South West Wales - where work assists in the conservation of some of the rarest plants in the world. Within the “Great Glasshouse” a Mediterranean landscape has been created. Or visit one of Europe's longest herbaceous borders all set within a partially restored Regency Park. See the Wallace Garden, honouring the famous Welsh botanist Alfred Russell Wallace.

Penpergwym Lodge - This 3 acre garden at Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, has been developed over the last twenty years from the remnants of an Edwardian garden designed when the house was built. There are mature trees, open areas of lawn, and a contrasting formality in the more ordered area, marked out by new and old hedges. 

Bwlch y Geuffordd Gardens, Bronant, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion - This garden is situated at an altitude of 1,000 ft, the soil is thin wet peat over clay, the winters are harsh and the winds strong, but an extraordinary garden has evolved. There are 2 series of ponds and a lake, linked by paths, waterfalls and bridges. There are a number of sub gardens - bog, Mediterranean, Japanese, formal, wild, cottage and woodland - many sculptures, lovely planting and plenty of seating.

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Annual Events

The Mid-Wales and Border area host a range of annual events including:-

The Gregynog Music Festival - held at Gregynog Hall, near Newtown, in June.

The International Hay Festival of Literature - Held annually in the famous book town of Hay-on-Wye - May /June.

The Festival of the Countryside - is a series of hundreds of events - including bird-watching, guided walks and farm visits - held throughout the year in central Wales. 

The Royal Welsh Show - Wales’ most important agricultural show is held in July at Llanelwedd near Builth Wells. 

The international Brecon Jazz Festival - is held in Brecon each August. 

The Llandrindod Wells Victorian Festival - also held in August, includes street theatre, walks, talks, drama and music.

The Machynlleth Festival - a mixture of classical music, jazz, lectures and art.

The Presteigne Festival - (mainly classical) Music and the Arts. 

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