Rhayader, Elan Valley Dams, Presteigne – Wales


We drove a scenic hour west of Ludlow to Presteigne and soon after entered Wales, where at first I couldn’t detect much difference between Wales and England except of course for the signs in unfathomable and unpronounceable (for yanks) Welsh. In another half hour we landed in the Elan Valley, outside the town of Rhayader. Elan Valley is famous for its dramatic dams that supply the water to the big English city of Birmingham. The scenery is also spectacular, a bit like Scotland, with mountains towering above the water, clad in vegetation in full autumnal glory, which here means browns, yellows, oranges (not red).

We started at the visitors center with sausage and bacon Baps (sandwiches), apple juice and tea, then browsed through the Wales-made goods in the gift shop, Then we ventured into the drizzle, which fortunately proved off and on, with dramatic bursts of sun that lit up patches of the mountains in the distance. We spotted at least three rainbows. Glorious.

In Rhayader, which bills itself as the outdoors capital of Wales, we stopped for a drink at the pub and then drove for dinner at the cool house of Jemima’s brother Francis, in Presteigne, where the England/Wales border runs though his back garden.

An agronomist who knows his seeds (and sells them), Francis and Dirck had lots to talk about. Francis has an interesting stone and wood cottage that used to be an old mill. The millstone and gears remains in the house, between the between the kitchen and dining room.

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