Mid-Wales is Britain’s forgotten wilderness and Rhayader lies at its heart – halfway between Hereford and Aberystwyth, midway between Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons. Although barely known outside Wales, it is just two hours from the Midlands and only three- to four hours drive from London, Manchester or York.
Its jewel is undoubtedly the Elan Valley, flooded a century ago to provide safe drinking water for Birmingham. This created a wealth of different habitats, free from pollution, where fungi thrive. This is home to some of our rarest wildlife: from skies rich with soaring red kites; to oak woods full of pied flycatchers and redstarts and waters where otters and salmon play.
It is also rich in history. Nant-y-Gro Dam, for example, was blown up by Barnes Wallis to prove his theories about the destructive potential of a bouncing bomb. Or there are the remains of Cwm Elan House to which Percy Shelley, the poet, fled after being sent down from Oxford.