To the west of Rhayader is the Elan Valley Estate, owned by Welsh Water and managed by the Elan Valley Trust, the series of reservoirs set in the outstanding scenery of the Elan and Claerwen Valleys have created a home for wildlife and a place to inspire us all.
Arts, Culture and Heritage
Elan & Claerwen Valleys
Walking: With 72 sqaure miles of Elan Valley Estate, walking routes in this our part of the Cambrian Mountains is spectacular. See a selection of the Elan Valley walks here.
History: In the 19th century, at the time of the Industrial Revolution Joseph Chamberlain, then leader of Birmingham City Council, set about finding a clean water supply for the City.
The Elan and Claerwen Valleys had been identified by the engineer James Mansergh as having the best potential for water storage - with
• An average annual rainfall of 72 inches (1830mm).
• Narrow downstream valleys which made building the dams easier.
• Impermeable bedrock preventing the water seeping away.
• Altitude - the area is mostly higher than Birmingham enabling the water to be transported by gravity alone, without the need to be pumped.
An Act of Parliament was passed for the compulsory purchase of the area and in 1893 the building work began. Over 100 occupants of the Elan Valley had to move, only landowners received compensation payments. Many buildings were demolished, among them 2 manor houses, 18 farms, a school and a church (which was replaced by the corporation as the Nantgwyllt Church).
A railway line was constructed to transport the workers and thousands of tonnes of building material each day and a village of wooden huts was purpose built to house many of the workers on the site of the present Elan Village.
The Elan Valley Dams were officially opened by King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra on 21st July 1904, and the later built Claerwen Dam was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1952.
Present Day: The dams and reservoirs of the Elan Estate are situated within an area of outstanding scenic beauty. They provide a lasting amenity in their own right for visitors to enjoy. The protection of the water catchment area to prevent pollution of the reservoirs has safeguarded the habitats of numerous species of flora and fauna and now the 70 square miles of moorland, bog, woodland, river and reservoir are of national importance for their diversity of lower plants (ferns, mosses, lichens and liverworts) and the Estate is the most important area for land birds in Wales.
Rhayader Town Trail
Beginning from the Smithfield Market this walk will take about an hour at a leisurely pace allowing for time to stop and look. It is all accessible for wheel chairs and push chairs although there is a steep 50m climb in Waun Capel Parc.
Print off your copy of the Town Trail and map and learn about Rhayader’s past qnd appreciate its architecture.
Our aim is to show off the best of the area and enable visitors to discover more for themselves, to make them want to come again
Willow Globe Open-air Theatre
The Willow Globe is planted from living willow rods and powered entirely from green electricity; almost certainly the first venture ever of its kind.
We have high quality professional and community productions on offer from April to September as well as our workshops, fun days and festivals. We have a new Shakespearean art and nature trail around our organic farm which hosts workshops and performances, a barn which acts as our wet weather performance and workshop space, an extensive costume store, a conference space and camping and B&B available. Please see our website for full details of events + booking.
The Hall at Abbey-Cwm-Hir
Abbey Cwm Hir Hall The Hall at Abbey-Cwm-Hir is a Gothic Victorian Mansion 7 miles north of Llandrindod Wells within a setting
Gothic Victorian Mansion with oustanding architecture, stunning interiors, fascinating collections and 12 acres of beautiful gardens