Things to do in Rhayader, Powys
Rhayader is situated on a crossroads halfway between North and South Wales - a place of hills, valleys and water. In Welsh, Rhaeadr means waterfall. Although the waterfall from which the town got its name was destroyed in 1780 when the Wye was bridged, you'll still see streams, rivers and lakes at virtually every bend in the road.
Rhayader is the perfect place from which to explore Mid Wales and the stunning Elan Valley, and has many delights to offer. It's a thriving little town with a wide choice of shops, fine old pubs, good eating and friendly places to stay. Each season has unique appeal, in this beautiful part of Mid Wales.
The Elan Valley is a revelation; the dramatic heart of Wales, meadows and woodlands pierced by the Wye, one of Britain's most famous salmon rivers. The massive lakes are a series of four reservoirs created a century ago to provide water for the city of Birmingham. Time your visit to Graig Goch after heavy rain and you will see the 130-foot high face of the dam covered in a veil of cascading white water. Before the waters rose to cover it, the poet Shelley regularly stayed at a mansion here, from which he could revel in scenery he considered marvellous. Francis Brett Young also based his book, 'The House Under The Water' on the flooding of the Elan valley.
Find the clocktower in the middle of Rhayader and you are standing at the historic crossroads midway between North and South Wales. In the mid 19th century this was the vital staging post for coaches travelling from Aberystwyth to England. Twice, local men calling themselves 'Rebecca's Daughters' in a Biblical reference, dressed as women and destroyed the turnpike gates which stood here, in protest at the high toll charges. Tollhouses can still be seen in the town on South Street and Llangurig Road.
The British bird, the red kite is found only in Mid Wales. Once reduced in numbers to only 10 or 12 pairs, the majestic bird was in danger of extinction. Now red kites can be seen again. The woodlands of the Wye provide carefully protected nesting sites and at the Red Kite Feeding centre at Gigrin Farm just outside town, visitors can watch the wild birds congregating to twist and swoop in aerial competition.
Rhayader is a traditional Welsh market town, so when better to see it than on market day. You'll find the general market in full swing every Wednesday in addition to a number of fairs held on various dates throughout the year with traditions going back hundreds of years.
There's shopping for antiques and crafts in Rhayader too with a special treat for crystal ware enthusiasts. This is the home of Welsh Royal Crystal - the Principality's own manufacturers of lead crystal tableware. Here you can visit the factory, see beautiful pieces being hand crafted and, buy in the factory shop.
The countryside surrounding Rhayader is ideal for walking, mountain biking and pony trekking, whilst the River Wye offers quality fly-fishing. In Rhayader itself there are facilities for cricket, tennis, bowling, football and rugby.