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Wales Way - Central Cambrian Mountains Tour

The central Mid Wales uplands provide one of the most beautiful landscapes in the UK. Running from north to south, the Cambrian Mountains straddle the counties of Powys and Ceredigion and are often described as the backbone of Wales.

This one day tour starts in Rhayader and the nearby Elan Valley. The 70 square mile Elan Valley Estate has five reservoirs and is popular with people who come to see the spectacular scenery, which is ideal for walkers, cyclists and bird watchers.

From the Elan Valley, you then travel on the scenic mountain road to Devil's Bridge. This route across the top of the Cambrian Mountains is a spectacular drive in itself, through abandoned slate and copper mining areas and you will be sure to see Red Kites flying overhead.

At Devils Bridge a visit to the famous Devil's Bridge Falls is a must and then on to Bwlch Nant yr Arian on the A44 for a stroll through the forest and well-deserved afternoon tea in the cafe.

Leaving Nant yr Arian you can turn right to take you on to Aberystwyth and the Mid Wales coast or turn left towards Llangurig and travel back to your starting point in Rhayader


Rhayader is a busy, historic market town, named after 'Rhayadr Gwy' a Welsh name for a local waterfall on the Wye. It's where the A44 meets the A470 in the heart of the Cambrian Mountains and the gateway to the Elan Valley. local attractions include the Welsh Royal Crystal, the Rhayader Museum and Gallery and Gigrin Red Kite Feeding Centre.

From Rhayader its a short drive to the Elan Valley and you should allow around 2 hours to explore all the historic reservoirs and dams. The Visitor Centre is a great starting point and you can opt for a guided tour of the historic dams & reservoirs, pick up a map of the area, hire a bike or drive and explore this beautiful area before lunch at the visitor centre cafe or stop for a picnic lunch on the way.


Rhaeadr Gwy | Rhayader

A busy, historic market town, Rhayader is named after 'Rhayadr Gwy', a Welsh name for a local waterfall on the Wye. The town is situated in the very heart of Mid Wales in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley sheltered by the Cambrian Mountains.
Rhayader Museum and Gallery

Rhayader Museum and Gallery at Rhayader Museum and Gallery (CARAD)

Rhayader Museum and Gallery has been described as a little gem. There is a strong focus on the history of the local area, including the Cambrian Mountains and the Elan Valley.
Elan Valley Dam

Elan Valley Visitor Centre at Cwm Elan | Elan Valley

The Elan Valley Visitor Centre has information about the area, an exhibition, cafe, audio-visual show, play area and toilets.

Cycle Route at Fishing @ Elan Valley Reservoir & Rivers

Cycle along the north shore of the Claerwen Reservoir (west of Rhayader). There are several traffic-free routes in the area.


The Elan Valley Visitor centre which has a large cafe on site or take your own picnic lunch and stop at one of the extensive stops around the area.
Elan Valley Cafe

Elan Valley Visitor Centre Cafe at Cwm Elan | Elan Valley

The Visitor Centre cafe has a spacious seating area with windows all around to enjoy the wonderful view of the River Elan and Caban Coch Dam. There is a patio area with picnic tables for people wishing to sit outside in fine weather.


From the Elan Valley we suggest that you take the scenic mountain route to Devil's Bridge (along the B4574). This is a stunning driving route across the Cambrian Mountains uplands and you will see ancient silver, lead & zinc mine workings from times past and red kites and in the skies above.

Reaching Devil's Bridge is the Rheidol Gorge (home to the famous Devil’s Bridge Falls), whose famous admirers include William Wordsworth, and nearby Cwmystwyth, home to the oldest mine in the UK, dating back some 4,000 years.

Your next stop is Bwlch Nant yr Arian Visitor Centre, well-known for its long established tradition of daily feeding of red kites, Wales’s National Bird of Prey.

You could consider a Cambrian Safaris Tour and sit back and experience the area through the eyes of a local guide or treat yourself to a trip on the Vale of Rheidol Steam Railway which will take you to Aberystwyth through the peaceful landscapes of the Rhiedol Valley.

Its now time for your return journey on the A44 back to Rhayader - with the highest concentration of pubs per capita in the UK your can be sure to find somewhere for a quiet evening meal to end the day.
Devils Bridge

Pontarfynach | Devil's Bridge

The village of Devil's Bridge, which translated in Welsh is Pontarfynach, means 'The bridge on the Mynach' is internationally famous for its waterfalls, and the Rheidol narrow gauge Steam Railway.
The Legend of Devils Bridge

The Legend of Devils Bridge at Devil's Bridge Waterfalls & Nature Trail

According to legend, the original Devil’s Bridge was built by the Devil himself. He constructed the bridge for a little old lady in exchange for her soul, or the soul of the first person to cross...
Bwlch Nant yr Arian Visitor Centre

Bwlch Nant Yr Arian Visitor Centre (NRW)

Bwlch Nant yr Arian has been awarded the Gold Award by Visit Wales for attractions which make an exceptional effort to create an enjoyable and memorable experience for their visitors.
Cambrian Safaris

Cambrian Safaris Tours

Cambrian Safaris provides excursions into the Cambrian Mountains and of all of Wales in a Land Rover Discovery. Tours can start from your accommodation, Devils Bridge, or Aberystwyth.
Vale of Rhiedol Railway

Vale of Rheidol Railway

All aboard the Vale of Rheidol by narrow gauge steam train. An unforgettable journey from Aberystwyth to Devil's Bridge, through the beautiful Rheidol Valley and sit back, relax on a journey through the spectacular Mid Wales countryside.

Details of Rhaeadr Gwy | RhayaderRhaeadr Gwy | Rhayader

Rhayader is a busy, historic market town, named after 'Rhayadr Gwy' a Welsh name for a local waterfall on the Wye. It is actually the very first town on the banks of the beautiful River Wye and has long been an important centre for the surrounding farming community with its flourishing livestock market.

Rhayader is said to be the oldest town 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 route. The mountain road from Rhayader to Cymystwyth is described by the AA as being one of the top 10 most scenic in the world.

This lively market town is a great base for exploring the surrounding countryside and the town boasts lovely riverside walks, cycle routes and is the home to Welsh Royal Crystal. Water has always played an important role in the town and today visitors flock to the nearby Elan Valley where Victorian engineers created a series of magnificent dams and reservoirs as a water supply for the City of Birmingham some 70 miles away. Gigrin Farm, just outside the town, is a designated Red Kite feeding area, and visitors can watch the breathtaking aerial feats of these beautiful birds who have returned from the point of extinction in Wales.

The town dates back to the 5th century, although Prehistoric evidence suggests earlier Bronze Age and Roman Settlements in the area. In 1177, the Lord Rhys of Deheubarth constructed a castle in the town, which sat at the very edge of his lands in order to resist Norman invaders, and in 1194 he rebuilt it, making it stronger and more durable to invasions. This castle was known as the Castle of Gwrtheyrnion, and like many castles in Wales passed hands between various Welsh princes and lords and the Norman invaders innumerable times until it was destroyed by fire in 1231 by soldiers from North Wales.

During the 18th and 19th century sheep and cattle drovers crossing the Cambrian Mountains on their journey towards the English market towns of Banbury, Hereford and London would often stop at Rhayader for lodging and provisions.

Its strategic position in the heartlands of Wales and at a crossroads meant that during the 19th century, no fewer than six toll gates were placed on the roads in and out of the town. This made journeys bringing animals into market expensive and became a real burden on the hard lives of the poor. When prices of stock fell and harvests were poor, these tolls became an impossible burden. As a result, between 1839 and 1844 the area witnessed mass rioting (known as the Rebecca Riots) when local people, angered by the increasing financial pressure followed a group of local tenant farmers and workers who dressed as women, known as Rebecca and her daughters. It is thought that the idea for disguise came from the Bible. In Genesis Rebecca recommended that some "possess the gates of those which hate them".


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Rhaeadr Gwy | Rhayader

Powys, LD6 5BU

Map reference: SN 971679
     Lat: 52.30034  Long: -3.51030
By Car: Main A470 from north or south Wales and A44 from Leominster

Public Transport Information -

Public Transport : 11 miles from Llandrindod station

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