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No matter how far you’ve come, Powis Castle alone will repay the journey. It certainly had quite an effect on architecture expert Simon Jenkins.

“Powis is a pocket battleship among great houses,” he writes. “Its rose-red walls, half as old as Wales, rise in shimmering medieval apparition over the fertile slopes of the Severn above Welshpool.”

Once a stark fortress it now reflects the changing fortunes of the Herbert family over fourcenturies – each generation adding to the sumptuous collection of paintings, sculpture, furni- ture and tapestries.

Its rare Baroque gardens – with their Italianate terraces blasted from solid rock, spectacular 30-feet high yew hedge and lavish herbaceous borders – are famous the world over.

In 1263, not long after Powis was built, Welshpool was granted its charter as a market town. It’s still the bustling hub of the rural community. In fact every Monday it hosts the biggest one- day sheep market in the whole of Europe.

Which is fine if you’re after a sheep. Otherwise the Old Station might be more your line. ThisGrade II listed former railway station turned shopping destination was built in 1860 to resem- ble a French chateau.

Clearly Victorian Welshpool had a bit of a thing for Gallic flair. Just 13 years later they built a magnificent Town Hall and clock tower in the French Renaissance style.

A town trail links these and many other remarkable buildings – or at least the ones left stand- ing after Owain Glyndwr rampaged through in 1400. Some of them, as you may well notice, have found a surprising new lease of life in the 21st century.

Happily the Royal Oak Hotel is still welcoming travellers with four real ales and a real fire togo with them.

But the 13th century motte and bailey castle is now a bowling green. The six-sided 18th cen- tury cockpit, the only one in Wales still in its original place, now has a less bloodthirsty pur- pose as the headquarters of the local WI. And a canalside warehouse from the mid-1800s is now the award-winning Powysland Museum.

It takes you through every stage of Welshpool’s history from the Stone Age to the present day – including the time when it was merely one of 30 warehouses lining this stretch of the Mont- gomery Canal.