Aberystwyth to Builth Wells
From the sea, across hills, valleys, and a spectacular reservoir
Follow the route - Aberystwyth to Builth Wells
> From Aberystwyth follow the coast northwards for 6 miles (10km) along the A487 and B4572 to Borth.
Three miles (5km) of sand can be found just to the north of this small village, which consists mainly of one street of cottages. The National Nature Reserve at Ynyslas has remarkable dunes, a submerged forest and varied birdlife. When you look out to sea you may see bottlenose dolphins, regular visitors to Cardigan Bay.
Places to stay near Borth
> Head inland along the B4353, then turn left on to the A487 at Tre’r-ddol and follow it through to Machynlleth.
On the way to Machynlleth, visit the village of Furnace. The large barn-like building beside the A487 gives Furnace its unusual name. This is an historic metal smelting site, dating from the 17th century when silver refining took place here. The waterwheel has been restored and you can see the magnificent waterfall that once supplied its power.
Machynlleth itself is the chief market town of the Dyfi Valley and gained fame in the 15th century as the seat of Owain Glyndŵr’s short-lived Welsh parliament. The Owain Glyndŵr Centre houses an exhibition of his campaigns. The Centre for Alternative Technology, to the north of the town, is a fascinating place to visit. Here you can see working examples of renewable energy, beautiful organic gardens, experimental green buildings and sustainably managed woodland habitats.
Places to stay near Machynlleth
> Leave on the A489, then take the unclassified road southeastwards to join the B4518 and on to Llyn Clywedog.
Visiting Llyn Clywedog
This impressive reservoir, built between 1964 and 1968, has the highest concrete dam of its kind in Britain – 237 feet (72m) high – and holds up to 11,000 million gallons (50,000 million litres) of water behind it. From the dam there are excellent views of the surrounding hill country. For walkers, the Glyndŵr’s Way and other waymarked walks follow the Clywedog valley.
Four miles (6km) further is Llanidloes. This is the first town on the River Severn, and there are several interesting buildings along its tree-lined streets. The most famous is the 16th-century half-timbered Old Market Hall, with its open ground floor – one of the last of its kind in Wales.
> Drive southwards along the A470 from Llanidloes for 15 miles (24km) to Rhayader.
This small market town on the River Wye is an ideal centre for visiting the ‘Lakeland of Wales’. The lakes are the reservoirs of the Elan Valley, which provide Birmingham with its water supply. Pony trekking and angling are particularly popular here. Although Rhayader is now a peaceful little town, it has had its share of excitement in the past. The 19th-century Rebecca riots, protesting against toll gate impositions, centred around the town, and the castle was destroyed during the Civil War. At the Welsh Royal Crystal Glass Factory you can watch the art of glass-blowing, and there are numerous craft shops and a pottery. Gigrin Farm, half a mile (1km) to the south, offers a farm trail of nearly 2 miles (3km) in beautiful surroundings, and there are pets and a children’s playground.
Places to stay near Rhayader
> Follow the A470 to Newbridge on Wye.
Visiting Newbridge on Wye
The ‘new’ bridge of the town’s name was built in 1910 to replace an old wooden structure. The church was founded in the late 19th century by the Venables family, who own Llysdinam Hall.
Places to stay near Newbridge-on-Wye
> Continue southwards on the A470 to Builth Wells.
Visiting Builth Wells
Builth Wells was one of a string of Welsh spa towns that drew crowds of health-seeking Victorians, but it was an important centre long before that. The castle was built in Norman times by James de San George, who was also responsible for Harlech, Caernarfon, Beaumaris and Conwy castles. The Wyeside Arts Centre provides a fine selection of entertainment throughout the summer with films, exhibitions and theatre. Just outside town, in the village of Llanelwedd, is the Royal Welsh Showground, which hosts the Royal Welsh Agricultural Show in July.