The first section of the trail begins at St Clements Church in Rhayader (Grid ref SN 962682), and follows the Elan Valley up as far as the church at Nantgwyllt, a distance of 5 miles.
Walking & Cycling
St Clements to Nantgwyllt Walk
St Clement’s Church, Rhayader
St Clement’s is an imposing 17th Century building much altered by the Victorians overlooking the River Wye adjacent to the old Welsh Rhayader Castle. The Church is of Norman origins, probably built by the Mortimer family who captured and restored the castle in 1200. The dedication is to St Clement and this could have stemmed from the fact that the Normans were rebuilding the Church of St Clemente in Rome at the same time. A large cast iron fence surrounds the reburied remains of the garrison of the castle, one of whom was said to be a giant. The Church has some very fine stained glass windows.
Eglwys Sant Clement, Rhaeadr Gwy
Mae Eglwys Sant Clement yn adeilad mawreddog o’r ail ganrif ar bymtheg a gafodd ei newid yn helaeth yng nghyfnod Fictoria. Mae’n edrych i lawr dros afon Gwy ac wedi ei lleoli ger hen Gastell Cymreig Rhaeadr Gwy. Mae’r Eglwys yn tarddu o’r cyfnod Normanaidd, ac fe’i hadeiladwyd mae’n debyg gan y teulu Mortimer a gipiodd ac a adferodd y Castell ym 1200. Cyflwynwyd yr eglwys i Sant Clement a gallai hyn fod wedi deillio o’r ffaith fod y Normaniaid yn ailadeiladu Eglwys Sant Clement yn Rhufain yr un pryd. Mae ffens fawr o haearn bwrw yn amgylchynu gweddillion garsiwn y castell. Cafodd aelodau’r garsiwn hwn eu hail-gladdu, ac yn ôl y chwedl roedd un ohonynt yn gawr. Mae gan yr Eglwys rai ffenestri lliw gwych iawn.
Gilfach Nature Reserve
Visitor centre – phone for opening times and event details: watch for butterflies, otters and leaping salmon, explore habitats rich in rare and fascinating wildlife, guided wildlife walks and talks.
See more here.
Gilfach is a traditional Radnorshire hill farm that has remained unimproved since the 1960's. Radnorshire Wildlife Trust purchased the farm back in 1988 and with fantastic support from volunteers, spent the next few years renovating the longhouse and barn; restoring the ancient field boundaries and developing a management plan that puts wildlife at its heart.
The farm is registered as an organic holding and is entered in the Tir Gofal agri-environment scheme and the Better Woodlands for Wales scheme. A local farmer works in partnership with us to manage the land for conservation, grazing it using traditional breeds like Welsh black cows and local Welsh mountain-cross sheep. Currently there are some black, horned sheep that look more like goats! These are a black Welsh Mountain/Hebridean cross.
The freehold of this 410 acre (166 ha) reserve was purchased in 1988 with very generous donations from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Countryside Commission, World Wide Fund for Nature, Oakdale Trust, W.A. Cadbury Charitable Trust and many other charitable trusts and individuals.
Elan Valley Trail - Sustrans Cycle Route 81
The Elan Valley trail is a glorius accessible, route forming 9 traffic free miles of National Route 81 which connects Aberystwyth and Wolverhampton via Shrewsbury and Telford. This section of the route is truly stunning as you cycle on the old railway line which helped to create the Elan Valley dams and reservoirs.
Following the line of the old Birmingham Corporation Railway for most of the way, the Elan Valley Trail offers families, novice cyclists and committed enthusiasts the opportunity to experience this beautiful part of the country at its best whilst staying healthy and helping the environment.
The trail starts from the pretty community of Cwmdeuddwr on the western side of Rhayader. Parking is available locally and Rhayader contains a number of cafes, shops, pubs, a bike shop and toilets. The linear Elan Valley Trail can be ridden in either direction but most people head west from the town towards the valley.
After leaving Cwmdeuddwr the route climbs over the impressive Rhayader Tunnel, a Radnorshire Wildlife Trust Reserve that is home to many bat species. Approximately half a mile later the route crosses a road, it's at this junction where Lon Las Cymru splits off and the Elan Valley Trail continues straight along the path.
At the next junction you can either continue along the trail up to the spectacular dams and reservoirs, or drop down to the Elan Valley Visitor Centre where you can stop off for refreshments at the cafe, delve into the history of the area and visit the tourist information centre.
The trail climbs steadily from the northern end of Garreg Ddu Reservoir, providing stunning views of the surrounding valleys and the four reservoirs that feed Birmingham's water supply, and continues up to the finish at Craig Goch Dam where toilets are available. A large part of the trail has a tarmac surface, so it is also suitable for less able users, but the northern end is not surfaced.
9 mile traffic free section of the Lon Cambria National Cycle Route 81. National Route 81 connects Aberystwyth and Wolverhampton via Shrewsbury and Telford.
Nantgwyllt to St Harmon Walk
This section of the trail from Nantgwyllt Church (Grid ref SN 909639), covers 11 miles, including mountain tracks over over high ground, before descending to cross the River Wye and following the Marteg valley to St Harmon Church.
Nangwyllt Church, Elan Valley
A Victorian church built at the turn of the 19th century by Birmingham Corporation to replace the small Nantgwyllt Church which was swallowed up by the flooding of the Elan and Claerwen Valleys to supply water for Birmingham in the early 20th Century. Nearby was the “House under the Water” made famous by author Francis Brett-Young. The poet Shelley lived at both Cwm Elan and Nantgwyllt houses, both of which were drowned. The Church has an exhibition of photographs showing the construction of the dams.
Eglwys Nantgwyllt, Cwm Elan
Eglwys Fictoraidd a adeiladwyd ar dro’r bedwaredd ganrif ar bymtheg gan Fwrdeistref Birmingham yw hon. Fe’i hadeiladwyd i gymryd lle eglwys fach Nantgwyllt a ddiflannodd pan foddwyd Dyffrynnoedd Elan a Chlaerwen er mwyn anfon dŵr i Birmingham ar ddechrau’r ugeinfed ganrif. Gerllaw roedd y ‘Tŷ dan y Dŵr’ a wnaed yn enwog gan yr awdur Francis Brett-Young. Bu’r bardd Shelley yn byw am gyfnod byr yn nhai Cwm Elan a Nantgwyllt - dau dŷ a gafodd eu boddi. Yn yr eglwys mae arddangosfa o luniau sy’n dangos y cronfeydd yn cael eu hadeiladu.
Following in the footsteps of Owain Glyndwr, this trail comes within a few miles of Rhayader.
This 132 mile (213km) National Trail is set in the heart of Mid Wales’ breathtaking countryside, and is dedicated to the 15th century Welsh Warrior and self proclaimed Prince of Wales, Owain Glyndwr. The trail starts in Knighton, on the English border where it links with the Offa’s Dyke Path. Running in a giant horse-shoe, it passes through the market towns of mid Wales on route to Machynlleth, and back again across Wales to Welshpool, close to the border with England.