First published in: The Times Click here to view a map for this walk in a new window
They were setting up market stalls around the handsome half-timbered Tudor market hall in the centre of Llanidloes. We stopped in Long Bridge Street to buy Welsh cakes in Talerddig Bakery (‘Oh, our cakes are sturdy enough to withstand the rigours of a rucksack!’) and some Black Bomber cheese from Darren Tonks’s fine food emporium. Llanidloes is that sort of town – long-settled, neat, well-provisioned and a little bit rarified in flavour, with the River Severn on its doorstep and the mid-Wales hills cradling it in isolation.
Up in Allt Goch Wood, dream-catchers of twigs and feathers turned in the wind, suspended in the framework of an ash-bough bender. Wooden shelters and a stout earth closet hinted at alternative lifestyles being enacted among the trees. Beyond the woods the bathing goddess symbol of the Severn Way beckoned us east along old-fashioned country lanes floored with shaly rock and grass.
This is sheep-farming country. At Cefnmawr a flock of black-faced ewes jostled round the farmer, anxiously eyeing the feed sacks on his trailer. The views were opening out, steeply down into the Severn Valley 500 feet below where Llanidloes lay tucked into the foot of the wooded slopes of Allt Goch.
A long lane led us down across the Severn to the Newtown road, where bearded bikers drank great mugs of tea outside the Riverside Café. We took the lane running steeply up the hill towards Newchapel, before turning off up a green lane that rose steadily into the open country around the humped hill of Moelfre. A moment in the cold wind to stand and admire the prospect across lumpy fields, woods, farms and the white church at Newchapel, before turning west along the upland trail of Glyndŵr’s Way.
Under a big old silver birch we sat to enjoy our Welsh cakes and Black Bomber. Then we found the twisty lane down to Llanidloes, with a pair of red kites wheeling and mewing above us among the low grey clouds.
Start: Llanidloes town centre, Powys SY18 6HU approx. (OS ref SN954845).
Getting there: Bus service X75, Shrewsbury-Rhayader
Road – Llanidloes is on A470 (Rhayader-Newtown)
Walk (11 miles, moderate, OS Explorer 214): From Market Hall down Long Bridge Street. At bottom, left across River Severn. Left up Westgate Street (955849, Glyndŵr’s Way/GW). Just past Tan-yr-Allt, right (953849; GW, ‘Severn Way/SW’) up through trees. In ½ mile, beside organic toilet on right (100m beyond junction of tracks), fork left (956856, GW, SW). Follow GW/SW through and out of woods; left along golf course edge to clubhouse (954859). Right (GW) down drive; in 100m left (GW, SW) along stony lane. In 250m GW turns left (955863), but continue along SW (‘goddess’ waymark symbol) to cross B4569 (962864).
On along lane. In ½ mile pass Cefnmawr (969867); right to road (972866); turn left. In 400m fork right (974867); in 300m, right (978868) down stony lane. Ahead along next field edge, over brow to gate in far left corner (980864). Ahead along left-hand hedge (not track by right-hand fence!), with bank steepening on right. Keep hedge on left and descend through gates for 600m to rough lane (982855), soon becoming surfaced. Left for ½ mile, passing Pentre, to road (988863). Right for 1 mile to A470 (997851).
Right past Riverside Café; in 100m, left (‘Newchapel’). In 600m fork right by house (997845); in 150m, by next house, fork left off road up green lane (996843). Down to cross stream (994840); bear left up track. Through gate (blue arrow/BA) to barns at Celyn (995839). Left to pass in front of them, then right (BA) up their left side. Through next gate and fork left (995837). Follow left hedge uphill. In 200m bear left through hedge and clockwise round field; left through gate (995834) and up open hillside. Aim half right for upper edge of bracken patch and follow it past thorn tree and on south to gate (994829, BA). Ahead into dip to meet GW (997825); right to cross stony driveway at Blaen-y-Cwm (992825). Follow GW down field, through hedge (989824); right (GW) to gate (GW); into dell, across footbridge (987824); over fields to Ashfield (985825).
Along lane to road (985831). Right; in 400m, left at Newchapel (987834), passing side lane and chapel on right. In 450m, left (983836, GW) down drive to gate in front of large shed (GW). Down field to stile (GW); steeply down through wood to cross Nant y Bradnant stream (982836). Up (GW) along woodland track for 400m to gate (978838). Half left across field to road (978838). Right (GW) for 1½ miles into Llanidloes.
Lunch: Riverside Café, Dolwen layby on A470, SY18 6LL
Accommodation: Lloyds Hotel, Llanidloes, SY18 6BX (01686-412284, lloydshotel.co.uk) – welcoming and comfortable.