I consider myself to be pretty well versed in the beautiful parts of my homeland – the small but aesthetically gifted country of Wales. However each time I visit a new part of the country, I’m astounded by how much beauty one small corner of the world can hold, and pleasantly reminded that there is still so much left for me to discover so close to home.
Elan Valley is a dramatically beautiful estate of reservoirs formed by a chain of dams running down through several valleys, whose sides rise steeply up to mixed plantation and deciduous woodland, becoming heather and bracken-clad before ascending to gloriously vast open prime Welsh mountain tops.
The estate lies smack in the centre of Wales and is probably the most isolated piece of wilderness that remains here; it certainly doesn’t draw the crowds of visitors that flock to Snowdonia year-round.
We chose to visit Elan Valley to break up our journey from South to North Wales, and happily it lies a toddler’s nap distance away. After breakfasting in a cosy cafe in the nearest small town, Rhayader, we headed a few miles out to the Visitors Centre, where we parked up, used the (great) facilities, and put the backpacks on. We only had time for a short hike and wanted the girls to be able to stretch their legs and tire themselves out. As it turns out, this wasn’t the best choice of route for that, but they enjoyed themselves nonetheless, and had a play in the park back at the visitors centre on our return.
The path weaves itself through Oak and Heather which clings to the valley sides. We stopped to let the girls explore the trees, touch the bark which caused much amusement, pick up sticks to hit us over the head with, and leaves to scrunch into our hair.
There was one (quite literally) sticky moment when we stopped for a snack and a drink and having finished all their blueberries the girls decided to go and pick some more off the ground.. On closer inspection they were not blueberries but they were so enthralled because sheep poo squishes wonderfully between the fingers! Thank goodness for wet wipes.
From our stopping point we had the most incredible views and it was so tempting to keep going, but we had to get back to continue our journey North, so we turned around at Ty’n y Pant. In no time, and having retrieved a welly which had been dropped on the way out, we were back at the centre. We just had time for a delicious leek and potato soup and a delicious gluten free cheesecake for me for lunch from the visitor’s centre before getting back in the car.
The Elan Valley estate is huge, you could literally spend several days exploring, and we are so excited to have found such a wonderful place to break up our regular journeys from North to South!
For more information on visiting Elan Valley, see their wonderful website, here: http://www.elanvalley.org.uk