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Destinations in WalesDestinations in Wales



Rhayader and the Elan Valley

Rhayader, the first town on the River Wye, is said to be the oldest in mid Wales. Sitting in the shadow of the Cambrian Mountains at the upper end of the Elan Valley, Rhayader has a long history as a market town. Because of its location at a natural crossroads between east, west, north and south, Rhayader has welcomed travellers for centuries. In days gone by it was a very important staging post, especially for the London to Aberystwyth line. The journey from Rhayader to Aberystwyth today (along the B4574) is described by the AA as being one of the top 10 most scenic in the world.

Unsurprisingly this journeyman’s town was plagued with an excess of tollgates in the 19th century, sparking the famous Rebecca Riots in which farmers would dress in drag and attack the toll booths. Rhayader today is a far more placid place, with visitors attracted by the beautiful scenery that is criss-crossed with an abundance of trails and bridleways. It is also the home to a growing population of Red Kites that can be seen at Gigrin Farm, as well as the picturesque Elan Valley Reservoirs.

Elan Valley in Wales

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The reservoirs were built to provide water for the swollen population of industrialised Birmingham which was suffering from interminable epidemics of water borne diseases. The work was begun in 1894 and opened by King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra in 1904, the entire project cost £6 million which is around £240 million in today’s money.

Elan Valley Epic

The worker’s village, designed by Herbert Tudor Buckland is the only purpose built Arts and Crafts model Village in Wales and the Nant-y-Gro Reservoir was the test site for the Dambusters bombing experiments in 1942.

The Elan Valley Visitor Centre is the perfect place to start a visit to the area. The Visitor Centre includes an exhibition (which shows the history and natural history of the area), an audio-visual show, information desk, shop and cafe, toilets, children's play area, large picnic area and a large car and coach parking area.

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