With the current state of the world, I think 2021 is the year I finally explore the UK.
I’d booked a Wigwam Holiday at their Hafren site, near Llanidloes in mid Wales, for 3 nights in the middle of the wettest May in recent history. It’s about a 2 and a half hour drive from Cardiff, up the A470, which once you get past Merthyr Tydfil is a very scenic drive.
I’d planned a couple of pit stops on the way, and after 2 hours I stopped for lunch in the pretty town of Rhayader.
After a quick walk around the town and down to the River Wye, I hopped back in the car for the short drive to Llyn Clywedog, which has some lovely views
After that it was a 10 minute drive to my home for the next 3 days, a Wigwam cabin just outside of Staylittle. There are 6 cabins on site, all of which have a double bed, kitchenette, and an en-suite bathroom, and 3 of the cabins also have wood-fired hot tubs. It’s owned by very friendly farmers who made me feel very welcome.
After settling myself in, I decided to go for a short drive to the nearby Dylife Gorge, with this fabulous view:
After an evening spent hoping the clouds would part to experience the Dark Skies that this region is famous for, I retreated unsatisfied to bed.
The next morning after a slowish start hoping for the rain to stop, I headed off on the short drive to the Hafren Forest. This is a working forest, with several trails, some on short loops and a longer one, approximately 8 miles round, to the source of the River Severn. There is a small car park with toilets, and from there, all the trails are very well signposted. I started off doing the 1.5 mile loop to Severn-Breaks-Its-Neck, a waterfall. After stopping for my packed lunch at the picnic benches on the Cascades Trail, I continued on to the Blaenhafren falls, which was approximately 2 miles from the start. Originally I’d intended to turn around at this point, but I felt good (despite the rain) and as the Source of the Severn was only another mile and a half, I decided to carry on.
This part of the walk is described as ‘strenuous’, and it does get quite steep in parts, rising to over 2000 feet. It is, however, a very peaceful walk, following the Severn as you wind your way up onto the open moorland. The source itself is marked by a wooden pole. All the paths are well maintained and well marked. It was quite cold and still raining so I didn’t hang around for too long before retracing my steps back to where I’d started.
All in all, it was just over 9 miles in just shy of 4 hours, and a great way to spend a day in the outdoors, despite the rain.
The next day, after another slow start, I headed 40 minutes south, back towards Rhayader, and out to the Elan Valley. I parked up at the Visitor Centre and paid for parking (£2.50 all day), and then set off walking along the well-maintained trail which runs alongside the reservoir. It was quite pleasant as I approached the first dam, but the weather quicker turned and I steadily got wetter and wetter. I kept wandering through the rain, hoping for it to brighten, but turned around after 3 miles and retraced my steps. I had a short detour across the Garreg Ddu Dam to see the Nantgwyllt Church. Obviously as I approached the end of my walk, the weather cheered up enormously. All in all I walked 6 miles in 2 and a half hours.
I then got in the car and decided to drive along the road which hugs the shores of the lakes and made it to Pen y Garreg Dam.
After that, I retreated back to my cabin, where apparently the weather had been pretty reasonable all day – typical!!
I returned home through the rain the following day. Even though this was only a short break, I was so thankful for the change in scenery and to spend some time outdoors instead of being glued to my laptop. I think that UK-based breaks are likely to be the norm for a little while, and you could definitely do worse than spend a few days in this beautiful and peaceful part of Wales.