Llandrindod Wells: Spa Walk
1.From the Lake, begin at the gates to the lakeside restaurant. On the other side of the road is the Capel Maelog commemorative site and further down, a stand of English oak planted in honour of the WI. Walk approx. 100yds towards the town and take the second path on your left. In early photographs of the town, this area was still open common kept free of trees by grazing sheep eating the seedlings. The trees have grown up naturally since 1900. When you reach the road, turn right along the side of the grassland and at the Coach House, take the narrow road to the left down the hill to the main road, Temple Street. Temple Street is so named because of the ‘temple’ or stone circle which is said to have been situated on Temple Gardens. The National Cycle Museum is 2 mins. walk to your right.
2. Cross carefully over this busy road and enter the path opposite called Wellfield Walk. The 2 large buildings you are passing between, were originally small hotels for the benefit of visitors to the Spa town. You are now entering Rock Park which was planted as an arboretum with many specimen trees as well as those that have grown naturally. Cross a wooden bridge over the Arlais Brook and continue walking along its right hand bank and under the railway bridge – you can produce an echo if you are clever. Take the left fork and continue downhill still on the right bank of the rocky stream which flows down a narrow ravine. There are said to be dippers nesting in the tunnel under the railway. The insects they live on need very pure water. Some experts think that the name Arlais comes from Purlais meaning "the pure stream".
3. Continue to the bottom of the hill and the stone bridge. On your left is the Chalybeate Spring. The water from the spring was given to the public forever by the Lord of the Manor J W Gibson-Watt after one of his family had been cured by the waters. There was an iron cup attached by a chain, but that has been removed in the interests of health and safety.
4. Continue ahead to the Rock Park Spa Buildings. In Victorian times the Spa Buildings were the heart of the Spa. You could take the waters, bathe in the mud or saline water and have all sorts of health treatments. Additionally, entertainments were held on a stage under a canvas roof until the Grand Pavilion was built in another part of the Park in 1906. There is a restaurant in the Spa Buildings where you can have a meal and taste the waters. There is also a display of old black & white photographs showing some of the spa treatments in progress. Take the tarmac path to the right of the building and at the back keep left of the waymark post to go uphill with the bowling green soon on the left. At the next path junction turn right with hedge to left and soon turn left downhill.
5. The river Ithon is to the right at least 150ft below at the bottom of the cliff. The name Ithon comes from the Welsh word ‘eithon’ which means talkative – you can often hear the river splashing over rocks and cataracts.
6. At the end of the path go up the steps. Lovers’ Leap is a few yards on but to visit it great care is needed to negotiate rocky ground and tree roots. In any case keep well away from the edge. The story behind this name is that a beautiful girl fell in love with a young man of whom her father did not approve. Her father beat her and locked her in her room but she escaped and running to the cliff where so often they had met secretly, she threw herself into the whirlpool below. When her lover heard what his sweetheart had done, he also flung himself from the cliff to be with his loved one. You return by following the path that leads straight uphill passing to the right of the Bowls Club. Llandrindod outdoor bowling greens are of international standard. They have hosted many memorable competitions and still do. Go past the bungalows on your right and over the first ‘hump’ in the road. Almost immediately, you need to follow a path to the right leading up between the trees passing an old water reservoir that serviced the town before water was piped from the Elan Valley reservoirs.
7. By the lamp standard, take a path to the right that is fenced rather erratically on both sides. This runs alongside what were school playing fields and long before that the site of Roman Practice Works where Roman soldiers were taught to construct forts and camps. Up to the line of young trees it is now the Town Green but beyond that is private land. At the end of the path turn left under the railway bridge out to Temple Street again. There is a pedestrian crossing to your right.
8. Turn up Grosvenor Road, which was named after the man who built the first hotel in Llandrindod in the 18th century. At the bottom of the hill to the left of the road is a huge rock. Children love to hear the story that it was a piece of grit worrying the devil in his shoe as he flew over Llandrindod, so he shook it out and it landed there. It is really a glacial erratic from the Ice Age brought by a glacier which flowed from what is now the Elan Valley. When you reach the grassy common area further up the rise on your left, you will see a line of oak trees with a plaque, which tells you of their origin. Turn left and go diagonally across the grass aiming for the far right corner. This leads to the pathway around the lake.
9. Your walk can be extended by almost a mile by turning right to go around the lake. The lake was originally an area where peat was cut for winter fuel before the railway came in 1868 and brought coal from the English Midlands. The peat cuttings were deepened and a dam built across the stream which watered the area. There is a plaque in the entrance to the lakeside restaurant recording the gift of the lake and its surrounds to the Urban District Council. If you didn’t go around the lake, you can turn left across the front of the restaurant building to reach point 1 again. We hope very much you enjoyed your walk!