The best destinations are often the ones that hide in the shadows of noisy neighbours…


Lan-fawr, Yr Allt and Blaen-y-clawdd-du
An alternative to: Elan Valley

Afon Ystwyth, and the road that runs parallel to the river, seem almost to tunnel through the Cambrian Mountains, such is the size and steepness of the valley banks; even the Limousin suckler cows look a little daunted. That the SAS regularly train among these hills probably tells you all you need to know.

The River Ystwyth cuts sharply through a range of 600-metre hills before being spat out at Aberystwyth. The recent history of the valley is apparent from the ghostly ruins of the old lead mines, but it’s the challenging ascents up Lan-fawr, Yr Allt and Blaen-yclawdd- du for which hillwalkers travel down the long and winding road from Devil’s Bridge or Rhayader. Many of the hills are also forested, offering diverse walking. But perhaps the most bizarre area is the 200-hectre Hafod Estate built by Thomas Johnes (1748-1816). He built his mansion and landscaped the area in the Picturesque style. Quite why he wanted to stamp his aesthetic on such stunning countryside, only he knows.

Hubs: Devil’s Bridge, Aberystwyth, Rhayader
Tourist information: Aberystwyth, 01970 612125
Map: Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 Explorer sheet
213 (Aberystwyth & Cwm Rheidol);
Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 Explorer sheet 214
(Llanidloes & Newtown/Y Drenewydd)

Image by Daniel Neilson