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Mid Wales and Brecon Beacons

This area of Wales is divided into three regions: Brecon Beacons, the Heart of Wales and the old county of Montgomeryshire.

Brecon Beacons Park by Barbara Ballard The Uplands of South and Central Wales, a high country consisting of gently rolling moors, forests, plateaus, farmland, rivers and streams is known as Brecon Beacons.

Brecon Beacons Park by Barbara Ballard The National Park, lying within the southern uplands, is 519 square miles (1344 sq. km) in size and stretches 40 miles (65km) from east to west. There are four mountain ranges within the park. Near the border with England are the Black Mountains, Next lie the Brecon Beacons, then the Fforest Fawr and, in the far west, the wilderness of Black Mountain. The two highest peaks in southern Britain are located in the Park.

Because of the different patterns of limestone and grit erosion which dominate the area, waterfalls, gorges and caves have formed over the centuries.

Peregrine falcon and raven can be seen in flight. Look for red kites in oak and ash woodlands. Arctic alpine plants blossom, while in the valleys, foxgloves and bluebells hold sway.

Usk River by Barbara Ballard The Usk is the major river in the park. It is famous for both salmon and trout fishing. The Wye flows along the eastern Park boundary and the Tywi in the west. Other rivers disappear into caves. At Devil's Bridge, the Mynach River plunges 300 ft (91.4m) on its way to meet the River Rheidol. Man-made reservoirs have added to the natural lakes in the area.

Langorse Lake Crannog by Colin Madge courtesy Geograph Britain and Ireland Remnants of chambered long cairns dotting the valleys attest to man's long habitation in the area. Mysterious standing stones hide in the mountains. Iron Age man and the Romans built fortifications in the area, and the Normans, when they conquered Britain, constructed castles. Sheep and cattle are scattered throughout the landscape.

A good place to start a journey is at the Brecon Beacons Mountain Centre, six miles (10km) southwest of Brecon. There are waterfalls, old viaducts, reservoirs, castles, caves and walks to be enjoyed amid nature's scenic wonders.

Brecon Cathedral by Barbara Ballard Brecon Beacons canal path by Barbara Ballard The town of Brecon, beside the River Usk on the north central edge of the Park has medieval origins. Narrow alleyways, a riverside promenade, a 1700s inn and the Brecon Cathedral are part of the attractions. The Brecknock Museum, on Captains Walk St, is full of fascinating objects on all aspects of the area. Canal boats can be rented for travelling on the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal.

Powis Castle by Paul Buckingham courtesy Geograph Britain and Ireland Powis Castle and orangery by Ian Capper courtesy Geograph Britain and Ireland Powis Castle is a stately home on a site occupied continuously for 700 years. The castle has an Elizabethan long gallery, a state bedchamber, and a baroque staircase. On show are paintings, furniture, and tapestries. The Clive of India museum contains Indian art brought to Wales by Lord Clive. Walks take in herbaceous borders, woodland, and orangery with 18th century windows. The terraces are dramatically sited on a steep slope.

Llandrindod Wells High St by Andrew Hill courtesy Geograph Britain and Ireland Llandrindod Wells Princes Ave by Andrew Hill courtesy  Geograph Britain and Ireland Rolling hills, mountains, valleys, meadows and the Wye River characterize the Heart of Wales. The perfectly preserved Victorian and Edwardian spa town of Llandrindod Wells boasts tall houses with towers, turrets, balconies and ironwork.

Hay on Wye Bookstore by Barbara Ballard Hay-on-Wye is known as the 'Town of Books'. It is a book lover's mecca with bookstores housing thousands of volumes of new and used books. It sits on the border between Wales and England near the banks of the River Wye and the foothills of the Black Mountains.

Lake Elan dam by Barbara Ballard The 70 square mile (181 sq. km) Elan River Valley runs through gently rolling green hillsides punctuated with crags, hay meadows, oak woodland, grasslands, bogs, rivers and streams. It's an important wildlife site. The lakes supply water to Birmingham and provide recreation for visitors-sightseeing, walking and horseback riding. There are twelve sites of special scientific interest and a National Nature Reserve.

Judge's Lodgings by Barbara Ballard The atmospheric Judge’s Lodgings in Presteigne is lit by gaslight as it was during Victorian times. Original furnishings grace the elegant apartments. The fully equipped servants' quarters and a huge courtroom are part of this 1870 Shire Hall. The church is also worth a visit.

Offa's Dyke path by Jeff Buck courtesy Geograph Britain and Ireland Knighton, a small market town, sits on the Welsh-English border at the approximate mid-point of Offa's Dyke Path. It is the home of the Offa's Dyke Centre with an interesting exhibition and AV presentation. The town, with many 17th century houses, is on the hillside above the Centre. Traces of late stone & Bronze Age settlements and Iron Age fortifications can be found in the surrounding area. It was the scene, 700 years ago, of one of Owain Glyndwr's victories against the English.

Bell Museum by  Barbara Ballard The county town of Montgomery is a delight to explore with its short cobbled street hugging the hillside. The tiny Bell Museum is full of interesting treasures.

Montgomery Castle by Barbara Ballard High on a hilltop above the town are the remnants of Montgomery Castle, built in 1223 to guard the border. It commands a view over the countryside, the town and the 13th century St Nicholas Church. The castle saw action in the Civil War and was demolished by Parliament's army.

Lake Vyrnwy dam by Barbara Ballard Lake Vyrnwy, created by a dam built in 1888, is in the beautiful, wild and mostly unpopulated countryside of Montgomeryshire. A village, Llanwddyn, was submerged for the dam's creation. The land is a nature reserve and a bird watcher's paradise. There is a drive around the entire lake and over the dam. The noise of the water pouring over the dam is both thundering and mesmerizing.

Abbey-Cwm-Hir billiard table by Barbara Ballard For a truly unusual day out visit Abbey-Cwm-Hir Hall, north of Llandrindod Wells and down a quiet country road in a peaceful countryside setting. It’s a Grade II listed Victorian country house built in gothic revival style in 1834. The name comes from the former 12th century Cistercian abbey sited in the grounds. With grounds to walk in, a walled garden, and 52 rooms full of collectibles and antiques open for viewing, plan on a full afternoon of exploration.

Patricio church font by ceridwen courtesy Geograph Britain and Ireland This area of Wales is also home to many historic churches so be sure to include visiting some in your itinerary. One such, Patricio Church, is located at the top of a hill in a remote valley of the Black Mountains. It is noted for its carved 16th century rood screen and loft, medieval stone altars, wall paintings, and many other interesting features. The church houses one of the oldest fonts in Wales.

Mid-Wales and Brecon Beacons Attractions

For opening times and full details of attractions see the Attractions section of our website.

Abbey Cwm-hir Hall
7 miles north of Llandrindod Wells in countryside; accessed from A44-A483 and A470; map on website
Tel. 0 1597 851 727
For photos and more details see our article Abbey-Cwm-Hir Hall
Web: Abbey Cwmhir Hall

Andrew Logan Museum of Sculpture
Berriew, Welshpool, Powys
On the B4390
Tel. 0 1686 640 689; Fax. 01686 640 764

Beacons Reservoir
Minor road west of the A4059, west of the A470
Head of Taff Valley in Brecon Beacons National Park

Bell Museum
Montgomery, on the B4386/88
For photos and more details see our article Montgomery

Bodynfoel Hall
Llanfechain; off the B4393
North of Welshpool, Montgomeryshire
Tel. 0 1691 648 486

Brecknock Museum
Captain's Walk St. in the Old Shire Hall
Brecon, on the A40/470

Brecon Abbey
Brecon

Brecon Castle
Brecon, Powys; on the A40/470

Brecon Cathedral
Cathedral Close, Brecon, on the A470
Tel: 0 1874 625 222 (Visitor Centre)
For photos and more details see our article Brecon Cathedral
Web: Brecon Cathedral

Brecon Gaer Roman Fort
Minor road from B4520 north of Brecon, Powys

Bronllys Castle
Bronllys, Powys
Southeast of A438/A479 junction
Tel. 0 1443 336 000 before visiting

Bryngywn house and parkland
Meifod, Montgomeryshire; on the A495

Builth Castle
Builth, Powys, on the A470

Camlais Castle
Three miles southeast of Sennybridge; on the A40

Cantref Reservoir
Off the A470 south of Brecon in Brecon Beacons National Park

Carreghoffa Castle
Carreghofa, Montgomeryshire, Powys
Off the B4398

Castell Blaen Llynfi
Three miles west of Tretower (A479)

Castell Crugerydd
Near New Radnor, Radnorshire, Powys
On the A44

Castell Dinas
Between Bronllys and Tretower on hilltop near the A479, Breconshire, Powys

Castell-y-Blaidd (Wolf's Castle)
Llanbadarn Fynydd, Radnorshire, Powys

Castle Caereinion
Castle Caereinion, on the B4385
Montgomeryshire, Powys

Cefn Bryntalch historic home
Llandyssil; minor road just west of Montgomery
On B4385, Montgomeryshire

Cefnllys Castle
Near Llandrindod Wells, Powys

Cerrig Duon (Maen Mawr) prehistoric stones
In countryside off the B4391
Then minor road to Tan-y-pistyll, Powys

Craig-y-Nos Castle and Country Park
Glyntawe, Powys; on the A4067
Southern Brecon Beacons National Park

Crickhowell Castle
Crickhowell, Breconshire, Powys; on the A40

Dingle Garden, The
Three miles north of Welshpool, Powys
Off the A458
Tel. 0938 555 145

Doldowlod Gardens
Llanyre, by Llandrindod Wells, Powys
On the A4081

Dolforwyn Castle
Minor roads from A483, Abermule
Midway between Newtown and Montgomery

Dyfi Furnace
On A487, near Eglwys-fach
Tel. 0 1443 336 000

Ffrwdgrech house and garden
Near Brecon, Breconshire; on the A470

Four Stones
In countryside off the A44 near Walton, Powys

Gaer Fawr iron age Hillfort
Welshpool, Powys

Garthmyl Hall
Berriew, south of Welshpool, Montgomeryshire; on the A483

Garwnant Visitor Centre
Taf Fawr valley, five miles north of Merthyr Tydfil
Signed from A470 road to Brecon
Tel. 0685 723 060

Glansevern Hall
Berriew, south of Welshpool; on the A483
Montgomery, Montgomeryshire
Tel. 0 1686 640 200 or 0 1686 640 827

Gregynog Hall
University of Wales; on the B4389
Newtown, Montgomery, Montgomeryshire

Hay Castle
Hay-on-Wye, on the B4350

Holy Trinity
Bettws, near Clyro; on minor road by Rhydspence Inn

Judge's Lodgings
Presteigne, Powys; on the B4355
Tel. 0 1544 260 650
For photos and more details see our article Presteigne and the Judge’s Lodgings
Web: Judge's Lodgings

Llandegfedd Reservoir
On minor roads off the A4042 east of Pontypool and south of the A472
Tel. 0 1291 673 722 (rangers from March-Oct); 01495 769 281 (rangers from Nov-Feb)

Llanerchydol Hall
Welshpool, Montgomeryshire; on the A458
Tel/fax. 0 1938 552 322; mobile 0 7970 498 212

Llangedwyn Hall
Llangedwyn, Montgomeryshire; on the B4396

Llangorse Lake Crannog Visitor Centre
Off north shore of Llangorse lake; signposted from Llangorse
Eight miles west of Brecon, on the B4560
Tel. 0 1874 658 226
Web: Crannog Visitor Centre

Llanidloes Museum
Town Hall, Great Oak St
Llanidloes, Montgomeryshire; on the A470
Tel. 0 1686 413 777

Llantarnam Abbey
Llantarnam; on minor road linking A4042 and A4051
Near Cwmbran
Tel. 0 1633 867 317

Llwyn-on Reservoir
On A470 north of Merthyr Tydfil
In Brecon Beacons National Park
Tel. 0 1495 769 281

Lymore Park
Montgomery, Montgomeryshire; on the B4385

Maen Llia standing stone
Brecon Beacons National Park

Maen Madoc standing stone
Brecon Beacons National Park; close to Roman road, Sarn Helen

Maesllwch Castle
Glasbury, Radnorshire; on the A4078/B4350

Montgomery Castle
Off B4385, on hilltop above Montgomery, Powys

Nant Tarw prehistoric circles
Usk reservoir road from Trecastle, Powys, A40; carpark in forestry commission plantation; map essential

National Cycle Museum
The Automobile Palace, Temple St, Llandrindod Wells, Powys
Tel. 0 1597 825 531

Owain Glyndwir Centre
Parliament House, Machynlleth, Powys, on the A489
Tel. 0 1654 702 401
Web: Owain Glyndwir Centre

Patricio Church (Patn’show)
At the top of a hill in a remote valley of the Black Mountains
Six miles north of Abergavenny

Pedwar Maen prehistoric stones
In countryside south of the A481 and A44 junction, Powys

Pen Y Beacon (Blaenau) prehistoric stones
By a car park on minor road off the B4350 from Hay-on-Wye, Powys

Pencerrig historic home
Llanelwedd, by Builth Wells on A483, Powys

Pen-twyn and Pontsticill Reservoirs
Just north of the A465 and Merthyr Tydfil
Open: year round

Pigwyn Roman Marching Camps
By foot from Trecastle, Powys, on the A40

Plas Llangattock
Llangattock, Powys
On the A4077, northwest of Abergavenny

Powis Castle
One mile south of Welshpool, Montgomeryshire; on the A483/458
Tel. 0 1938 551 944

Radnorshire Wildlife Trust Bird Hide
Erwood Station Craft Centre; Erwood near Builth Wells

Rhayader Castle
Near town of Rhayader and the church on bend of River Wye

Rhos Y Beddau stone circle
In countryside off the B4391, then minor road to Tan-y-pistyll, Powys

Robert Owen Memorial Museum
The Cross, Broad Street, Newtown, Powys
On the A489
Tel/Fax. 0 1686 626 345

Rock Park, The
Llandrindod Wells, Powys; on the A483

Sarn Helen Roman Road
Near Brecon, Powys, A40

South Wales Borders Museum, The
the Barracks, Brecon, Powys
Off B4520, A40, A470
Tel. 0 1874 613 310

St Aelhaiarn Church
Guilsfield, Powys, on the B4392

St Andrew Church
Presteigne, Powys, on the B4355

St Bilo Church
Llanfilo, near the A438, Brecon

St Brynach Church
Minor road south of Brecon

St Cattwg Church
Llanspyddid on the A40 just west of Brecon

St Cewydd Church
Aberdw, off the B4567, south of Builth Wells

St Cynog Church
Defynnog, on the A4067 near the A40

St Cynog Church
Penderyn, on the A4059, near the A465

St David Church
Cregrina, on the A481 east of Aberedew

St David Church
Glascombe, nine miles west of Builth Wells on country roads

St David Church
Llanddew, just north of Brecon

St David Church
Llywel on the A40 west of Trecastle

St Edmund Church
Crickhowell, on the A40

St Edwards Church
Church St, Knighton (northern edge of the town)
Tel. 0 1547 528 566

St Eigon Church
Llanigon, 3 miles southeast of Hay-on-Wye

St Ellyw Church
Llanelieu, Talgarth; on narrow road past Talgarth Church

St Idloes Church
Llanidloes, Montgomeryshire, Powys; on the A470

St Maelog Church
Llandefaelog, north of Brecon, off the B4520 on minor road

St Mary Church
Bronllys, on junction of A438/A479

St Mary Church
Builth, on the A470/A483

St Mary Church
Crickadarn, near Erwood
Off the A470 near Builth Wells

St Mary Church
Llanywern, off many minor lanes
North-west of Llangorse Lake

St Matthew's Church
Llandefalle, off the A470

St Matthew's Church
Llanelwedd, on the outskirts of Builth Wells, A483

St Mauritius Church
Altmawr, 4 miles south of Builth

St Michael's Church
Bryngwyn, one mile north of B4594

St Michael's Church
Clyro, on the A438

St Nicholas Church
Montgomery, Montgomeryshire; on the B4385/86

St Padarn Church
Llanbadarn-y-Garreg
On minor road off the B4567 at Aberedew

St Paulinus Church
Llangorse, on the B4560

St Stephen
Old Radnor, on minor road off the A44

St Teilo
Llandeilo Graban; minor road off the B4594 near Erwood

Talybont Reservoir
On minor road south of B4558 and town of Brecon in Brecon Beacons National Park
Tel. 0 1495 769 281

Trecastle Mountain (Y Pigwyn) prehistoric stone circles
By foot from Halfway on A40, near Trecastle, Powys

Trewern Hall
Four miles from Welshpool, Powys; off the A458
Tel. 0 1938 570 243

Ty Mawr Wybrnant stone farm dwelling
Four miles southwest of Betws-y-Coed on minor road from Penmachno
Tel. 0 1690 760 213

Ty’N-y-Coed Uchaf small holding
¾ mile walk from Penmachno; off the A5
Near the Woolen Mill on the B4406
Tel 0 1492 860 123

Usk Reservoir
Minor road south-west of A40 from Trecastle and west of A4067
Upper reaches of Usk Valley in Brecon Beacons National Park
Tel. 0 1495 769 281

Photos courtesy of Geograph Britain and Ireland as follows:
Powis Castle by Paul Buckingham; Powis Castle orangery by Ian Capper; Langorse Lake Visitor Centre by Colin Madge; Llandrindod High St by Andrew Hill; Offa’s Dyke path by Jeff Buck.
All other photos © 2011 Barbara Ballard

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Our Mid Wales and Brecon Beacons Articles
Montgomery
Presteigne & Judge’s Lodgings
Lake Vyrnwy and its Nature Reserve
Abbey-Cwm-Hir Hall
Elan Valley Estate and Visitor Centre
Brecon Cathedral
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