Looking back over photos from my trip to Ynyshir Hall earlier this year reminded me of just how beautiful the Welsh countryside is.
I’ve been to Wales many times, but mainly stuck to the big towns and cities such as Cardiff and Swansea. This was my first trip away from the M4 and into the “real” Wales, driving through the scenic Brecon Beacons, dotted with picturesque villages full of character.
I enjoyed every minute of my three-hour drive, winding round the country roads, over hills and through valleys, and even having to make an emergency stop to let a sheep cross the road!
During my stay I took the opportunity to wander around the local area and was amazed at the wonderful views and buildings you can find hidden down little side roads, just out of sight.
For example in Eglwysfach, the village where Ynyshir Hall is found, you can visit the Dyfi Furnace. This is a mid 18th century blast furnace that was used to smelt iron ore. Powered using local charcoal and water, it even ended up giving its name to a nearby hamlet. Now it lies quiet, and has its own kind of beauty, giving you a glimpse into life as it was back in the 1750s.
Built alongside the River Einion, it’s just steps away from a wonderful waterfall that I looked upon as a small introduction to the beauty of Artist’s Valley. Again just a short walk from Ynyshir Hall, Artist’s Valley is considered the inspiration for Led Zepplin’s world famous Stairway to Heaven, and it didn’t take me long to see why!
You can get a glimpse of the valley’s glory via steep winding single lane roads, but your best bet is to lace up your walking boots and go for a hike into the depths of the countryside, allowing yourself to become enveloped by its full beauty.
Finally, if you have the opportunity to visit this part of the world, then be sure to make a trip to RSPB Ynys-hir Nature Reserve, former home to the BBC TV show Springwatch. I only explored a small part of the vast grounds, but it’s a wonderful chance to enjoy nature to the full. I stepped through carpets of bluebells, watched a hare bound by, counted butterflies and carefully dodged nesting Canadian Geese (they were very protective of their eggs!) and felt more relaxed and at peace than I had for many, many months.
So there you have it – have you visited rural Wales? If yes then tell us what you loved or disliked in the comments below. And if you haven’t, well, what’s stopping you?!