Things to do Mid Wales
The Elan Valley
There are many reasons to visit Elan Valley. Part of the rugged Cambrian Mountains, Elan is a beautiful and unspoilt area made even more compelling by the dams and reservoirs which together create a wonderful, living landscape. The views are stunning and you are never far away from points of interest.
Elan is a haven for wildlife, one of the most important sites in Wales and there is always something to warm the heart throughout the year. You will marvel at the engineering enterprise of the Victorians in building the dams and the railways which served their construction.
As you breathe in the tranquillity of Elan it can be hard to imagine that this has been a place with such long and varied history. 4,000 years ago Stone Age people made Elan their home within the forests of oak, birch and hazel. Later arrivals included Celts and Romans. More recently Elan's resources have attracted mining interests. Coming up to date of course Elan's dams and reservoirs continue to provide water to significant populations.
The Visitor Centre below Caban Coch dam is a good place to learn about the remarkable building of the dams and the alternative ways to explore. There is a gift shop with useful maps, local produce and mementos of Elan. There is also a spacious cafe alongside the River Elan which serves homemade snacks and meals.
The Elan Valley is open 364 days a year (closed on Christmas Day).
Red Kites at Gigrin Farm (adjacent to Brynafon Country House Cottages)
The Red Kite Feeding Centre at Gigrin Farm is a 200 acre working farm, now famous for it's Red Kite Feeding Centre. Hundreds of Red Kites feed there every day. It is a truly breathtaking spectacle
The Red Kite Centre is located in the most beautiful countryside, in the heart of Mid Wales, overlooking both the Wye and Elan Valleys, and just half a mile from the market town of Rhayader.
There are general hides to watch from, as well as specialist Photographic Hides, both of which are just a few metres away from where the Red Kites are fed. There is a coffee shop & gift shop, a picnic site, and farm trail.
Feeding is at 2pm from the last Sunday of October to last Saturday in March, and 3pm from the last Sunday in March to the last Saturday of October .
Dogs are allowed – on leads.
The Willow Globe
The Willow Globe (Y Glôb Byw) is a scaled down, living version of the Globe in London, being a third of its size in diameter. The willow has been carefully woven into an organic and spiritual theatre, starkly sculptural in spring, which is almost completely absorbed by its lush, green surroundings in summer months. This secret, magical and intimate space, with a rough thrust stage, is totally unique - we believe it is one of the largest willow constructions in the country and probably the only one in use as a theatre in the world. Viola’s determination to ‘make me a willow cabin at your gate’ has a whole new resonance.
Perched high on a rock above the world-famous garden terraces, Powis Castle, originally built circa 1200, began life as the medieval fortress of the Welsh Princes of Powys, who held onto their kingdom despite the threats of their more powerful neighbours in Gwynedd and England.
In 1587, Powis Castle was sold to Sir Edward Herbert who created the romantic long gallery, which is richly decorated with the coats of arms of his ancestors. In 1784, the marriage of Lady Henrietta Herbert and Edward Clive, son of Robert Clive, the conqueror of India, combined the Powis and Clive estates.
Today, the medieval Castle contains one of the finest collections of paintings and furniture in Wales. It was originally built by Welsh Princes and was then the ancestral home of the Herberts and Clives. The beautiful collection of treasures from India is displayed in the Clive Museum.
The Castle & Gardens have been remodelled and embellished over more than 400 years and reflect the changing needs and ambitions of the Herbert family - each generation adding to the magnificent collection of paintings, sculpture, furniture and tapestries.
In the early 20th Century, the 4th Earl of Powis and his wife, Lady Violet, redecorated much of the castle and brought the garden back to life, introducing new varieties from all over the world.
The world-famous garden, overhung with clipped yews, shelters rare and tender plants is laid out under the influence of Italian and French styles. It retains its original lead statues and an orangery on the terraces.
Devils Bridge Falls
Devils Bridge Falls is a world famous tourist attraction 12 miles from Aberystwyth. These unique waterfalls have attracted many thousands of visitors since the 18th century, including William Wordsworth who wrote about the “Torrent at the Devil’s Bridge”. Today, the Falls Nature Trail provides a unique opportunity to see this great natural feature in the Rheidol Gorge.
There are two walks to choose from:1. NATURE TRAIL, WATERFALLS & 3 BRIDGES. This walk takes minimum of 45 minutes. Difficult walk. 675 steep uneven natural stone steps.2. PUNCHBOWL & 3 BRIDGES This walk takes 10 minutes or so. Moderate walk. 300 slate steps.
Refreshments and food are available from the Hafod Hotel opposite the exit to the waterfalls walk. Tearooms & Gift shop at entrance to walks.
Open from Mid Spring to October
Vale of Rheidol Railway
Travelling on the Vale of Rheidol Railway is the finest way to explore the stunning Rheidol Valley. Opened in 1902, the railway has been delighting passengers young and old for over a century.
Feel the wind in your hair in one of our Open Summer Carriages or watch the scenery passing by from the comfort of our First Class Observation Saloons. See the countryside change as you travel through wide open fields and meadows, woodland and rugged mountain scenery, the line twisting and turning as it clings to the hillside. Alight at one of our recently restored intermediate stations and explore the many walks the valley has to offer. Listen to the sound of a powerful narrow gauge steam locomotive working hard to climb 700ft (200m) in the 11¾ miles from Aberystwyth to Devil's Bridge.
Birds of prey such as Red Kite and Buzzards are regularly seen soaring high above the valley floor and breath taking views can be enjoyed by all.
The line is a masterpiece of engineering, opened in 1902 to carry lead ore, timber and passenger traffic. The narrow track gauge allows the railway to follow the contours of the terrain with many sharp curves and steep gradients which add to the railway's charm.
Rhayader Museum and Gallery
Rhayader Museum and Gallery looks small and compact from the outside but, once inside, you will find a downstairs temporary Exhibition Gallery where there are a variety of exhibitions throughout the year. The building is fully accessible with a lift to the upper floor.
Upstairs in the Museum Gallery there are films to watch, and more than 50 oral histories to listen to along with a vast array of objects to look at. All of which help to tell the story of Rhayader from the early ages of man though to the current generation of people who live in and around the town.
Rhayader Museum and Gallery is run by CARAD, an independent charity. Currently, we charge an entry fee because we like to be able to use the money we raise to develop new exhibitions and projects.
We are open:Tuesday-Friday 10am-4pm Saturday 10am-1pm
National Show Caves
Dan yr Ogof is located at the National Showcaves Centre for Wales, is a 17-kilometre (11 mi) long cave system in south Wales,about 5 miles (8 km) north of Ystradgynlais and 15 miles (24 km) southwest of Brecon, in the Brecon Beacons National Park. It is the main feature of a show cave complex, which is claimed to be the largest in Europe and is one of the major tourist attractions in Wales. The first section of the cave system is open to the public, but the extensive cave system beyond is scheduled as a national nature reserve and is open only to bona fide cavers.
The bones of some 42 humans, as well as numerous animal bones, have been found in one of the nearby chambers of this cave system. In a 2005 poll of Radio Times readers, Dan yr Ogof was named as the greatest natural wonders in Britain
The Black & White Village Trail
The Black & White Village Trail is a moto/cycle route through some of the prettiest villages and most beautiful landscape in England. The 40 mile circular trail leads west from the ancient town of Leominster, through a rich landscape of orchards, hopyards and distant hills, taking in the most picturesque black and white villages along the way as well as the little market town of Kington.
The villages are more than just pretty places to visit. Each one has its own character and community, with tea-rooms, shops, craft workshops and pubs waiting to welcome the visitor.
Take advantage of the quieter pace of life and enjoy a day spent following the byways of quintessential rural England.
The Judges Lodging
Explore the 'upstairs, downstairs' life of theVictorian Judges, their servants and felonious guests.
Once called ‘the most commodious and elegant apartments for a judge in all England and Wales' (Lord Chief Justice Campbell, 1855), decay beckoned Radnorshire's disused Shire Hall into obscurity. Now, aided by an interior hardly touched by time and original furnishings discarded in attics, extensive research and restoration has re-awakened this ‘Victorian fossil'.
From the stunningly restored judge's apartments to the dingy servants' quarters below you can explore their gaslit world. Damp cells remind you of the building's true purpose, along with the vast courtroom where your imagination in captured by the echoing trial of William Morgan, local duck thief.
Visitors to the building are accompanied by an eavesdropping audiotour of voices from the past; you will hear their tale, from Mary the hardworking maid, to Reverend Richard Lister Venables, Chairman of the Magistrates and employer of the famous diarist Francis Kilvert, portrayed by actor Robert Hardy.
You can hear excerpts from our fabulous character audiotour, including Robert Hardy, along with an interview with Historical Consultant, Dr Charles Kightly here (this will open in the Media Player you use).
An historic house with a difference, our total ‘hands-on' policy allows you to actually sit in the judge's chair, study his books, even pump water in the kitchen (although we would rather you did not use the commodes!).
The Silver Mountain Experience
Where history, myth and legend collide in a fantastic day out for the whole family.
Set against the dramatic Cambrian Mountains, The Silver Mountain Experience is not your usual day out.
Experience guided tour A Miner’s Life, which takes visitors on a fascinating journey through the oldest part of the uniquely preserved silver-lead mine.
Explore Welsh myth and legend in our theatrical experiences such as A Dragon’s Tale and the mysterious Black Chasm (not for the very young or faint-hearted!).
New attraction Time Lab features an interactive show for all the family, delving deep into the freaky facts and twisted tales linked to this unique silver mine.
As well as our fantastic theatrics, you won’t want to miss what else we have on offer. Discover our Mining Museum, let your imagination run wild in Woo Hoo Woods, go gem panning, den building, dig for fossils and much more.
Llandrindod Lake was built as a boating lake towards the end of the last century when Llandrindod Wells was a prime Victorian tourist destination with thousands of visitors arriving each year to take advantage of the famous spa waters. The original boathouse can still be seen to the left of the lake, now converted into a private residence.
The lake is popular with visitors and has a Lakeside Café, which was recently completely rebuilt, provides light refreshments and full meal services in attractive surroundings. Visitors enjoy panoramic views of the lake and surrounding area and the nearby picnic area is popular in the summer
The lake is also popular with fishermen and has recently been drained, cleaned out, and new fish stocks introduced. There is an abundance of wildlife including ducks, geese and swans. The island in the middle of the lake provides an undisturbed habitat for birds, insects and other wildlife.