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Destinations and Regions

There’s a lot of ground to cover in Mid Wales. Two thousand square miles of breathtaking scenery and views that seem to go on for ever. So we’ve divided all this splendour into five destinations to make it easier for you to know where to start.

Discover Powys through its five unique regions, each with its own distinct landscapes, history, heritage, and culture. From rolling hills to vibrant valleys, each area contributes to the charm of Mid Wales. Immerse yourself in the diverse stories and experiences that shape Powys, inviting you to discover the unique appeal of each region.

The Brecon Beacons National Park and International Dark Sky Reserve covers about a quarter of Mid Wales and includes the highest mountain in Southern Britain. The Cambrian Mountains are equally unspoilt and spectacular. The Berwyn Mountains loom pretty large, as the name suggests in Lake Vyrnwy and the Berwyns (you might have noticed a bit of a mountain theme there.) We also do the rolling hills and fertile valleys of Offa’s Country along the England-Wales border and the wildlife-rich beaches, mudflats and wetlands of the Dyfi Biosphere.

It’s all out there for you. It’s your experience.

Do it your way.

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Lake Vrynwy lake with Canoes
LakeVyrnwy

Lake Vyrnwy & The Berwyns

This region of mountains, moorland and steep river valleys is home to about two per cent of the British population of peregrine falcons – and lots of other rare birds and animals. But not too many people.

 

There are two small but interesting towns: Llanfyllin with its Victorian workhouse and prestigious classical music festival and Llanfair Caereinion at the western end of the steam-powered Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway.

 

Apart from that it’s mostly scattered villages clinging to the hillsides or beside the cascading clear streams of the Vyrnwy, Tanat and Banwy. And mile after mile of stupendous views.

 

The Berwyn Mountains are certainly quite a sight. Cadair Berwyn, at 830 metres above sea level, is the tallest peak in Wales outside a National Park.

 

Walkers on 135-mile-long Glyndwr’s Way National Trail and horse riders on the Rainbow Trails of Dyfnant Forest can enjoy equally wild and spectacular landscapes.

 

But it’s not quite all as nature intended. Despite its reputation as the most beautiful lake in Wales, Lake Vyrnwy is entirely mad-made.

 

Back in the 1880s the world’s first large stone-built dam flooded the head of the Vyrnwy valley, submerged a village and created a body of water 11 miles round.

 

Lake Vyrnwy is now the heart of a 24,000-acre nature reserve teeming with wildlife. It attracts thousands of bird-watchers, walkers, anglers and cyclists every year. 

 

And most of them start in Llanwddyn village – reborn a couple of miles from its original location as the home of the RSPB’s visitor centre, the start of a sculpture trail and a great place to eat or buy local crafts.

Towns in the Vyrnwy and the Berwyns:

Llanfair Caereinion,

Llanfyllin,

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Dyfi Biosphere

Dyfi Biosphere

You may not have heard of the Dyfi Biosphere. Possibly because it’s the first biosphere in Wales and one of only three in the entire British Isles. But you’ll be hearing a lot more about it in the future. 

 

So what exactly is a biosphere? Better ask UNESCO, who decide these things by very strict rules indeed.

 

They’re not just looking for one of the world’s finest wildlife-rich landscapes. Local people have to care about it and want to conserve it. And they need to have big new ideas about how to create a more sustainable future.

 

The Dyfi part is rather easier to explain. It refers to the River Dyfi that flows from the mountains of southern Snowdonia all the way to the seaside resort of Aberdyfi.

 

Our biosphere covers award-winning sandy beaches to the west, dense untamed forests to the north, mudflats and wetlands to the south and the Cambrian Mountains to the east.

 

It’s a haven for wildlife. Including perhaps the most famous bird in Wales: Monty of the Dyfi Osprey Project at Cors Dyfi nature reserve.

 

It’s a test bed for the future. Boffins at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth are pioneering more sustainable ways of living.

 

And it’s one vast, environmentally friendly playground. The Wales Coast Path and Glyndwr’s Way both pass through. The terrain is perfect for mountain biking. You can even curl up at the end of the day in “eco pods” high up in the tree canopy.

A day of historic churches, hidden history and nature at its best.

Towns in the Dyfi Biosphere:

Machynlleth

Offas country

Offa's Country

It can be safely assumed that Offa, an eighth century king of Mercia, didn’t think much of his Welsh neighbours. In fact he spent a lot of time and trouble building a dyke all the way from one end of Wales to the other to keep us out of his back yard.

 

It’s now Britain’s longest ancient monument – and the inspiration for one of its most popular long-distance walking routes. King Offa, one suspects, would not have approved.

 

Because 177-mile-long Offa’s Dyke Path National Trail from Chepstow to Prestatyn certainly doesn’t keep Wales and England apart. It brings them together in shared enjoyment of a spectacular landscape we call Offa’s Country.

 

A network of bridleways, drover’s path and quiet lanes radiates out from the main trail into the surrounding countryside – from the dramatic Black Mountains to the riverside meadows of the Wye and Severn.

 

All this means that many walkers on Offa’s Dyke Path never quite manage to leave Mid Wales. Not with places like Powis Castle to explore and events such as the Hay Festival of Literature to distract them.

 

It can’t be easy to tug on your boots again after a sumptuous meal in a country pub and a night in a farmhouse bed. And it’s virtually impossible to tear yourself away from market towns such as Montgomery, Presteigne and Welshpool with their array of all too tempting independent shops.

 

The Offa’s Dyke Centre in Knighton, the only town on the dyke itself, will tell you all you need to know about Offa’s Country. And right outside the town is a forest where the last dragon in Wales lies sleeping. Wouldn’t harm to have a little look.

Towns in Offa's Country:

Hay-on-Wye

Knighton

Montgomery

Presteigne

Welshpool

Cambrianmountains

Cambrian Mountains

The Cambrian Mountains are the spine of Wales, a vast moorland plateau gouged by glaciers and cleft by steep valleys. They begin at the Plynlimon massif, source of no fewer than six rivers. Which is why quirky Llanidloes is the first town on the Severn and Rhayader the first on the Wye.

 

They stretch all the way south to Mynydd Mallaen near Llanwrtyd Wells, Britain’s capital of weird and wonderful sporting events.

 

And they contain some of the oldest rocks in Britain. Between the spa towns of Llandrindod Wells and Builth Wells – home of the Royal Welsh Show – lies an area internationally famous for its trilobite fossils.

 

But not every part has been 500 million years in the making. The Elan Valley Estate, or the “Lakeland of Wales”, was created in Victorian times by sheer force of will.

 

Once seriously considered for National Park status, the Cambrian Mountains may be less famous than Snowdonia or the Brecon Beacons but they’re just as special. Just as rich in rare species such as the golden plover, the black grouse and the red kite.

 

It may be what prompted the famously eco-conscious Prince of Wales to set up his Welsh home at Llwynywermod. His Cambrian Mountains Initiative aims to conserve this rugged landscape and the rural communities that depend on it.

 

And when HRH isn’t at home, you can stay in the courtyard next door and do your bit by walking the local drovers’ tracks, shopping in the market towns or eating in the award-winning restaurants. It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it.

For more information on the Cambrian Mountains Initiative Click Here

Please take a look at the Cambrian Mountains booklet to find out more:

Towns in the Cambrian Mountains:

Builth Wells

Llandrindod Wells

Llanidloes

Llanwrtyd Wells

Newtown

Rhayader

Brecon Beacons

Brecon Beacons

They don’t do things by half in the Brecon Beacons National Park. It’s why these 519 mountainous square miles don’t just make up one of the best-loved landscapes in Britain. They’re on the world map too.

 

The National Park is too vast to experience all at once. So it’s divided into four. The Black Mountains in the east, guarded by the market town of Talgarth and the book town of Hay-on-Wye. The Brecon Beacons containing the highest mountain in southern Britain, Pen-y-Fan. The ancient royal hunting ground of Fforest Fawr. The Black Mountain in the west with the iron town of Ystradgynlais in its shadow.

 

This is a beauty that stops you in your tracks. A sense of space that puts your life into fresh perspective. A refuge and an inspiration.

 

You’d expect it to attract people with a passion for outdoor adventure. Walkers, sailors, anglers, canoeists, mountaineers, hang-gliders, horse riders. And you’d be right.

 

But it doesn’t stop there. You’ll also find cavers, stargazers, festival-goers, geologists and even aircraft enthusiasts. All going their own way, making their own memories. No wonder the world is paying attention.

 

Brecon Jazz Festival, the Hay Festival and the Green Man Festival at Crickhowell all bring international glamour to rural Mid Wales.

 

The rocks at Fforest Fawr are so amazing they’ve been recognised as a European Geopark. The showcaves at Dan-yr-Ogof are the best in Europe. Aircraft crash sites are scattered right across the wild uplands of the National Park as a poignant reminder of World War Two.

 

And there are very dark skies everywhere. So dark you can see distant stars, bright nebulae and even meteor showers. That’s why the Brecon Beacons is only the fifth place in the world to be made an International Dark Sky Reserve.

 

Milky Way or Beacons Way? The National Park Visitor Centre south of Brecon will give you all the inside information you need to create your own unique experience. 

For more information on the Brecon Beacons Click Here

Towns in the Brecon Beacons:

Brecon

Crickhowell

Hay-on-Wye

Talgarth

Ystradgynlais

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