Collaboration between the Cambrian Mountains Initiative and Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water has resulted in The Cambrian Mountains Food, Drink and Craft Fair, to be held in the Elan Valley on October 23, between 10am and 4pm.
During the dark times of the COVID-19 pandemic, local food, drink and craft producers in the Cambrian Mountains of Wales came together to create a virtual local produce network.
Whilst it was the dark times that motivated producers to join forces, it’s the world-class dark skies of the Cambrian Mountains that have recently inspired them to create brand new produce.
The producers will meet for the first time at The Cambrian Mountains Food, Drink and Craft Fair, to be held at the Elan Valley Visitor Centre, near Rhayader. Local people, tourism and hospitality businesses and visitors will have a chance to see, buy and order their dark sky themed produce.
The Elan Valley is an International Dark Sky Park, the only one in Wales and the only one on private land, but accessible to the public, in the world - https://www.elanvalley.org.uk/darkskies
The event celebrates creativity and resilience and highlights the importance of community cohesion in times of adversity.
For a flip-book of the brochure of Cambrian Mountains Local Produce, visit https://issuu.com/walkcambrianmountains/docs/cambrian_mountains_local_produce_2021
A video showing the produce available at the Elan Valley event can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuVztRdC4Fs .
The network of producers was facilitated by the RDP-funded Dyfodol Cambrian Futures and part-funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, Ceredigion County Council, Powys County Council and Carmarthenshire County Council.
The project also receives support from the Cefn Croes Windfarm Community Trust, Brechfa Forest West Wind Farm Community Fund, Aberystwyth University and the Elan Valley Trust.
Local food, drink and craft producers are uniting for the Elan Valley event.
Shropshire business joins forces with border vineyard
Shrewsbury-based double glazing specialist Heritage Glass Group has announced a new partnership with Kerry Vale Vineyard on the county border with Powys.
Heritage Glass has been supplying and installing quality replacement windows and doors to homes throughout Shropshire and the surrounding areas for more than 12 years.
Established in 2010, Kerry Vale Vineyard, near Montgomery, is home to 6,000 vines, used to make still and sparkling English wine. The vineyard hosts a cellar door shop and café and boasts an impressive array of awards, earned over the past decade.
Heritage Glass will be giving executive customers a bottle of Kerry Vale Vineyard’s award winning wine. In return, the vineyard will deliver corporate hospitality to the company’s most valued customers.
Tony Randell, managing director of Heritage Glass, said “Partnering with Kerry Vale Vineyard to provide gifts and deliver hospitality for our executive clients will enable us to thank our highly valued customers in a very special way.
“Both Heritage Glass Group and Kerry Vale Vineyard share the same important core values, with excellent customer service at its heart.”
Russell Cooke, vineyard owner, said: “We are thrilled to be able to work with Heritage Glass and are proud that this discerning business has chosen us to partner with.
“We are both family-run Shropshire businesses who place high emphasis on sourcing locally and pride ourselves on the quality of our provision and our excellent products and services.
“I am confident this will be a great partnership which will host many benefits for both of our businesses and our customers.”
Kerry Vale Vineyard owner Russell Cooke (left) with Tony Randell and Jason Richards from Heritage Glass.
The Elan Valley, Llyn Clywedog, and Lake Vyrnwy reservoirs, are just some of the amazing blue and green spaces in Mid Wales.
These majestic reservoirs, all situated within the county of Powys, provide a backdrop that inspires local communities, promoting a strong sense of place connection.
The eight reservoirs offer a host of activities in secluded beauty spots that are well worth discovering as Mid Wales displays its glorious autumn colours.
They appeal to walkers, heritage visitors, cyclists, sailors, anglers, artists, bird and wildlife watchers, patrons at local cafes and visitor centers and tourists staying at local accommodation and hospitality venues.
Llyn Clywedog, five miles west of Llanidloes, is set in between the Victorian reservoirs of the Elan Valley to the south and Lake Vyrnwy to the north.
Constructed in the 1960s, Llyn Clywedog is home to the tallest concrete dam in the United Kingdom at 72-meters high and comes complete with sweeping views across inspirational hills and valleys.
The dam is set against an ancient landscape, bordering the Hafren Forest and the remote, rugged atmosphere of the Cambrian Mountains. Afon Clywedog, a headwater of the River Severn, flows through the Victorian ruins of the Bryntail Lead Mines below.
This reservoir is a critical part of the Hafren Dyfrdwy flood control system for the River Severn. It has become integrated into the livelihood and leisure of the area, providing a great day out for visitors.
From creative art workshops that support members of our local community, water sports and education, to family-friendly walking routes past historic sites, which form part of Glyndwr’s Way, all activities provide a fantastic place to visit, relax and connect with the outdoors.
Recent investment from Hafren Dyfrdwy to renovate the reservoir visitor centre has allowed the creation of a community cafe, Caffi Clywedog, which is fully accessible. In addition, the site has its own community arts creative hub, which overlooks the breathtaking views.
At the creative hub, Radiate Arts CIC works within the local community to provide workshops, which aim to foster people’s wellbeing and uses the inspirational surroundings to spark creativity.
Pam Gordon, director of Radiate Arts said: “Everything we do is about delivering projects with those who would not usually experience art as part of their everyday life, providing a much-needed resource to feel the benefit of the arts in our lives.
Our activities include stone-carving, textiles and painting which are open to the public. The impact on wellbeing from the creative arts in such a fantastic place is transformational to those we work with.
“Our 100% plant-based Caffi Clywedog is next door and provides refreshments for courses and to those exploring the area. We are part of a strong rural community, Connecting Clywedog, and there is so much to explore here.”
Eluned Lewis, Elan Links Scheme manager said: “It’s sometimes hard to quantify the benefits of developing artist residency programmes. After a number of years, we are now seeing artists who have gained national recognition following time spent at Elan Valley which is great for the artists and for the location.
“The Elan Valley is a special place with a unique landscape, story and history. Elan Links is a Heritage Lottery funded scheme which aims to secure this heritage and boost the opportunities available in the Elan Valley for the future.”
Between 2018-2023, there will be 26 projects delivered, which celebrate heritage, improve access for visitors and archive their stories. Elan Links, which is led by partnership board, aims to improve training opportunities and enhance nature and wildlife in the area.
Nearly £3.4million will be invested in the Elan Valley area to safeguard heritage and increase the opportunities for visitors.
Lake Vyrnwy, situated 37 miles north of Clywedog, offers a range of activities, such as watersports, a spa at Lake Vyrnwy Hotel, cycling and walking trails for all abilities as well as an RSPB reserve and the largest organic farm in the UK.
Donna Marshall, senior visitor engagement officer for Lake Vyrnwy, said: “Lake Vyrnwy truly is a magical place that has so much to give. It offers stunning views, woodland walks and rare wildlife, and it really is somewhere where people can come and immerse themselves amongst the nature around them.
“We’re extremely lucky that at Hafren Dyfrdwy we own and manage Lake Vyrnwy, as well as Clywedog where we also funded the renovation of the cafe, as we know just how valuable that having access to sites like this is for local communities and visitors.
“After the year we’ve had, it’s really important that there are places across Wales where people can come and re-connect with nature and get back out again into the open air, and Lake Vyrnwy is the perfect place to do just that.
“From Wales’ tallest tree, RSPB bird hides, a local café on site, plenty of unique wildlife to spot, fairy tale towers and impressive dam, it truly is a place to remember.”
The Elan Valley at night.
A popular Mid Wales attraction which invites visitors to explore the underground world of a former slate mine has won a 2021 TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Best Attraction award.
Corris Mine Explorers, located at Corris, near Machynlleth, is said to have stood out by continuously delighting its explorers. The award celebrates businesses that consistently deliver fantastic experiences to travellers around the globe, having earned great traveller reviews on Tripadvisor over the last 12 months.
The attraction allows visitors to explore and discover the virtually untouched and disused workings of the old Braich Goch slate mine. The mine was worked from 1836 to 1870 when it was abandoned, the door creaked shut and everything was left in place.
Mark Waite, head mine guide at Corris Mine Explorers, said: “It is a huge honour to receive this Travellers’ Choice award from Tripadvisor. Not only does it recognise the quality of our explorers’ reviews, but it places Corris Mine Explorers in the top 10% of attractions worldwide.
“This is a real achievement. We would like to thank everyone who took the time to write us a review following their trip. It really means a lot.”
Kanika Soni, TripAdvisor’s chief commercial officer, said: “Congratulations to all the winners of the 2021 Travelers’ Choice Awards. I know the past year has been extremely challenging for tourism businesses.
“What has impressed me is how businesses adapted to these challenges, implementing new cleanliness measures, adding social distancing guidelines and utilising technology to prioritize guest safety.
“The Travelers’ Choice Awards highlight the places that are consistently excellent - delivering quality experiences time and time again even while navigating changing customer expectations and new ways of working.
“Based on a full year of reviews from customers, this award speaks to the great service and experience you provided guests in the midst of a pandemic.”
To see traveller reviews and information about Corris Mine Explorers visit the attraction’s TripAdvisor review page.
Visitors exploring the former slate mine at Corris.
With stunning scenery around every bend, Mid Wales has some of the most scenic drives in the UK where visitors can take their time and enjoy the views.
Many of the fantastic routes are set against panoramic and breathtaking backdrops. Here are a few suggestions to whet the appetite of motorists who love to explore places off the beaten track.
For those seeking to build a holiday or short break around these scenic routes, visit - https://www.visitmidwales.co.uk/accommodation/ - to view the range of quality accommodation available across Mid Wales.
Our scenic drives begin with Abergwesyn Pass from Llanwrtyd Wells - famous for bog snorkelling, the man versus horse race and the Alternative Olympic Games - to Tregaron.
This single track runs through an almost brutally wild landscape of moors, escarpment, pine forest and scurrying streams. In the middle, there’s a steep series of hairpins called the Devil’s Staircase.
It’s not built for speed, which means its 20 odd miles can seem much further, especially when you might not pass a single soul for the entire trip, other than the occasional sheep.
Along the route, drivers will see Soar y Mynydd, the most remote chapel in Wales, which is well worth a short diversion. Further south, past Llyn Brianne reservoir, is the RSPB Gwenffrwd-Dinas reserve.
The mountain road from Aberystwyth to Rhayader crosses the spine of the spectacular Cambrian Mountains.
Head out of Aberystwyth on the A4120 to Devil’s Bridge, follow the B4574 to Cwmystwyth, then pick up the tremendous mountain road that soars through the mountains, past the northernmost of the Elan Valley reservoirs before eventually dropping down into Rhayader.
On the way, drivers can check out the university town of Aberystwyth, take a steam train journey up to Devil’s Bridge on the Vale of Rheidol Railway and explore the Devil’s Bridge Falls.
There are also the Elan Valley reservoirs, conceived by Victorians to supply water to the industrial English Midlands and now a tranquil paradise for walkers and wildlife. Be sure to check out the valley for stars on a clear night, as it’s a Dark Sky reserve.
Other scenic routes to explore include the mountain road from Llanidloes to Machynlleth, via Clywedog Reservoir. The views are wonderful and take in the former lead mining community of Dylife and the Dylife Gorge and Wynford Vaughan-Thomas viewing points which afford panoramic views over the surrounding area.
The breathtaking routes continue with the Bwlch y Groes Pass, a route that lies on minor roads linking Dinas Mawddwy, Llanuwchllyn and Lake Vyrnwy, with views across the Dyfi Valley and Cadair Idris.
This is part of the pilgrim's route from North West Wales to St David's in South Wales. A cross, which can be found just below the summit at the junction of the roads from Vyrnwy and from Dinas Mawddwy, was placed on the route as a symbol of faith and strength comforting travellers since medieval times.
Bwlch y Groes was used between and after the wars by the Austin Motor Company and the Standard Triumph Motor Company to test prototype cars and their performance during hillclimbing.
Another must is the route that takes drivers along A487 from Machynlleth via Corris towards Dolgellau and before turning off on the B4405 to Tywyn via the picturesque Talyllyn lake at the foot of Cadair Idris mountain.
In the seaside resort of Tywyn, you can swap your car, motorhome, motorbike or bicycle for a different form of transport – Talyllyn Railway, the world’s first preserved railway.
For those drivers who enjoy sea views, try out the coastal route from Portmeirion in the north to Cardigan in the south west of Mid Wales.
Portmeirion is a magical place, an exquisite Italianate village designed by Clough Williams-Ellis tucked neatly into a headland overlooking the River Dwyryd. The village was the surreal location for cult 1960s TV series The Prisoner and it’s a hugely popular day-trip.
On the journey south along the A496, check out Harlech Castle, a World Heritage Site, which was built in the late 1200s and now looks slightly marooned on its rocky plinth. A new bridge has made access easy and connected the castle with a new visitor centre that has five luxury apartments for hire.
The famous song ‘Men of Harlech’ commemorates an epic siege in the 1460s, when the castle held out for seven years, the longest siege in British history.
Barmouth was a hard-working, ship-building, slate-exporting port until 19th century tourists took a shine to its mountains-meet-sea charms. Nowadays it’s Southern Snowdonia’s most popular resort, with big beaches and splendid views up the Mawddach Estuary.
Take the toll bridge across the estuary at Penmaenpool to join up with the A493 coastal route and be sure to also check out Aberdyfi, a small seaside village in southern Snowdonia. where the River Dyfi meets the green-blue waters of Cardigan Bay.
Aberdyfi is the subject of a popular Welsh folk song, ‘Clychau Aberdyfi’ or ‘The Bells of Aberdyfi’, which refers to the legend of Cantre’r Gwaelod, a submerged kingdom beneath Cardigan Bay.
Drive inland to the ancient capital of Wales at Machynlleth to crossing the River Dyfi before continuing on the A487 to Aberystwyth, a pier-and-prom Georgian/Victorian resort, is well worth a visit.
There’s lots to see and do in the town, including the Aberystwyth Cliff Railway up Constitution Hill, the priceless treasures of the National Library of Wales and the Ceredigion Museum.
Next stop driving south is the busy little town of Aberaeron, which has a fine set of colourful Regency buildings along its harbour.
This stretch of the Welsh coastline is incredibly rich in wildlife, with Britain’s biggest pod of dolphins spending the summer in Cardigan Bay, centred around New Quay, once an important fishing and shipbuilding town that is now a popular holiday resort.
Our journey ends in Cardigan, an old fishing port with impeccable Welsh roots. In 1176, the first eisteddfod was held in Cardigan Castle and there’s still a traditional Welsh feel to the town.
View the scenic drives https://www.visitmidwales.co.uk/scenicdrives or watch a YouTube video about driving in the Cambrian Mountains at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9CZMxKZ_ZrU .
The spectacular Aberystwyth to Rhayader route through the Cambrian Mountains.
The Abergwesyn Pass on the route from Llanwrtyd Wells to Tregaron.
© Crown copyright (2021) Cymru Wales
The Llanidloes to Machynlleth scenic drive at Dylife.
© Crown copyright (2021) Cymru Wales
The Talyllyn Pass and lake.
Image: Barbara Fuller
Spring is one of the best times of the year to see rare wildlife and get up close to nature in the beautiful countryside of Mid Wales.
This unspoilt region in the heartland of Wales has an abundance of natural environments and some of the rarest species of birds and animals in the UK, including visiting ospreys, red kites, otters, beavers and even dolphins.
The UNESCO Dyfi Biosphere Wales - https://www.dyfibiosphere.wales/ - is one of the best places to see a diverse range of wildlife.
Otters swim in the rivers, beavers have recently been released, ospreys return every spring to breed, red kites grace the sky and dolphin pods are often spotted from the beach and on boat trips.
Nature reserves perfect for bird watching include Cors Dyfi and the Dyfi Osprey Project - https://www.dyfiospreyproject.com/ and the RSPB Ynys-hir reserve https://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves-and-events/reserves-a-z/ynys-hir/ which are all near Machynlleth.
For the last 50 years, RSPB Ynys-hir has been a wonderful home for wildlife and a haven for visitors who really want to get away from it all.
Located on the A487, Wales Coastal Way, in the village of Eglwys-fach, the reserve covers 850 hectares with a wide mix of habitats - mountain, lowland wet grassland, reedbed, bog, woodland and saltmarsh.
Springtime at this reserve is spectacular, with pied flycatchers, redstarts and wood warblers singing their hearts out whilst the woodland floor transforms into a beautiful carpet of bluebells. Watch the diving display flights of lapwings and the piping calls of redshanks on the Marian Mawr pools.
Cors Dyfi Reserve and Dyfi Osprey Project is the best place to see ospreys, otters, beavers, nightjars, warblers, increasingly rare hen harriers and even water buffalo, which are introduced to graze the marshes.
Ospreys spend their winters in West Africa, but since 2011 some of them have come to Cors Dyfi each spring to mate. Over the years, the osprey partners have raised one to three chicks successfully each year. Watch them live at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtlCjc1D4Qo
In a double success story for Mid Wales, ospreys have also been nesting at Hafren Forest alongside Clywedog reservoir, near Llanidloes, since 2014. Watch them live in the nest at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyciWNPFuWM
Nearby, along the Cardigan Bay coast, dolphins and porpoises often put on a display for spectators. For the best chance of seeing them, visit Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre in New Quay and take a boat trip.
New Quay is one of only two places in Great Britain where you can see bottlenose dolphins. Dolphin Survey Boat Trips - https://www.dolphinsurveyboattrips.co.uk/ -
provide an underwater microphone which allows passengers to listen to the dolphins in their natural habitat.
Further inland, at Forge, near Machynlleth, visitors are allowed to get up close and personal with birds of prey at the Falconry Experience Wales - https://raptorexperiencewales.co.uk/. Fly and handle Lakota the bald eagle or Moggie the white faced owl under professional supervision.
The falconry experience also includes falcons, hawks, American buzzards, a white tailed sea eagle and a fast paced demonstration of a falcon flying to a lure.
Falconry Experience Wales also organises Raptor Days with wildlife presenter and author Iolo Williams who introduces people to the raptors at various locations in Mid Wales. The first two days this summer are sold out, but spaces are available for July 24 and August 9. More details on the website.
To enjoy the spectacle of seeing more than 100 red kites feeding, travel to the Red Kite Feeding Station at Bwlch Nant yr Arian, between Llanidloes and Aberystwyth - naturalresources.wales/bwlchnantyrarian?lang=en
Bwlch Nant yr Arian became a red kite feeding station in 1999, as part of a programme to protect the small number of red kites in the area at that time. Nowadays, the red kites fly in from a 10-mile radius to be fed by the lake daily at 3pm and the spectacle can be watched from the lakeside viewing area.
For those seeking to build a holiday or short break around wildlife watching, visit - https://www.visitmidwales.co.uk/accommodation/ - to view the range of quality accommodation available in Mid Wales.
Red kites can be watched at Bwlch Nant yr Arian feeding station.
Ospreys at the Dyfi Osprey Project.
Bottle nose Dolphins in Cardigan Bay.
Image: Steve Hartley, Dolphin Survey Boat Trips.
Wildlife presenter Iolo Williams with Lakota the bald eagle at Falconry Experience Wales.
A beaver family has been released at the Cors Dyfi Reserve.
The call comes from MWT Cymru, which represents more than 600 tourism and hospitality businesses in Powys, Ceredigion and South Gwynedd. The company has created a new page on its Visit Mid Wales website - www.visitmidwales.co.uk/christmas - to promote gift ideas in the run up to Christmas.
Gift ideas range from animal, falconry and pottery experiences to rides on narrow gauge railways and a selection of Mid Wales craftware and food and drink products.
With some Mid Wales hotels closing temporarily due to new COVID-19 restrictions imposed in Wales, which begin at 6pm today (Friday), shoppers are being urged to go online to book a short break, holiday or visitor experience as a special gift to look forward to in 2021.
Val Hawkins, MWT Cymru’s chief executive, said: “2020 has been a really challenging year and I would appeal to local people in Mid Wales and those living outside our region to continue to support our member businesses this Christmas,” she said.
“Traditionally, December is one of the busiest months for our businesses, many of whom offer exciting experiences and craftware which make great Christmas gifts. It’s also a great time to book new year breaks and holidays in Mid Wales.”
The new restrictions imposed in Wales stop pubs, restaurants and cafes from serving alcohol and they are unable to open to customers beyond 6pm. Businesses can offer a takeaway service after 6pm and, if they have an off-licence, can sell takeaway alcohol up until 10pm. Indoor visitor attractions must also close.
The Welsh Government will review these restrictions on December 17.
Support local businesses Mid Wales.
Buy award winning gin from The Dyfi Distillery at Corris.
A hotel at one of the top visitor destinations and beauty spots in Mid Wales has launched a photographic competition as part of an autumn marketing campaign.
The winner of the competition will be treated to a Champagne stay for two people at Lake Vyrnwy Hotel and Spa. They will be able to enjoy dinner, bed and breakfast and sip champagne on the balcony of their premier lake view room overlooking iconic Lake Vyrnwy.
The competition is part of the hotel’s autumn marketing campaign to attract visitors to the popular Mid Wales destination when the Covid-19 ‘ firebreak’ lockdown ends in Wales on Monday, November 9.
The hotel wants to see visitors’ own best photographs of Lake Vyrnwy using the #lvapc2020 hashtag. The winner will be chosen on November 29 from entries across Facebook and Instagram.
“We hope the competition will help entrants to re-live their happy Vyrnwy moments in these difficult times,” said Anthony Rosser, Lake Vyrnwy Hotel’s operations director.
The marketing campaign is encouraging prospective customers to “re-awaken your senses with fresh air, long walks and tranquillity” by booking two different packages for a romantic or relaxing Champagne break in visually stunning surroundings.
Both packages are available from Sunday to Friday, from November 9 to February 28, and are based on two people sharing a double or twin room. To book visit www.lakevyrnwy.com .
The Vyrnwy Cwtch costs from £169 for a one night stay with a full Welsh breakfast, a £35 per person dinner allowance and a cuddly toy and chocolates. The Vyrnwy Escape offers a three night stay with full Welsh breakfast and a £35 per person per night dinner allowance. Customers can also take their dogs with them.
“Lake Vyrnwy has always been a place for romance and self-care,” said Mr Rosser. “Whether you want to go for a walk in the wild along the many paths surrounding the hotel or to snuggle down in front of a roaring fire with a hot chocolate, Lake Vyrnwy has more than enough to keep you busy - or not...
“Indulge in all the Welsh countryside has to offer. With specially curated walking maps of local routes available from reception, escape, explore and let the problems of the outside world melt away. Bring your furry family members too, it’s an adventure for the whole family.”
Lake Vyrnwy Hotel is a member of MWT Cymru, an independent organisation representing more than 600 tourism and hospitality businesses in Powys, Ceredigion and the Meirionnydd region of Gwynedd.
A spectacular autumn view of the Lake Vyrnwy.
Image by © martinwebbinfocus | Spinning Your Dreams
Now in its third year, this annual celebration of the independent accommodation sector will take place from Monday 16th – Sunday 22nd March 2020.
MWT are supporting eviivo and the B&B Association to make the campaign a success and we need your help to make the most of National B&B Week week for Mid Wales accommodation providers. Last year almost 350 properties nationwide provided deals and offers to encourage guests to stay with them and we'd like to make sure that as many local businesses and MWT members as possible are among them.
National B&B Week is open for all B&Bs and independent accommodation providers to get involved with and, best of all, it’s free!
All you need to do is:
1. Think up a great offer to entice guests to book or stay with you during National B&B Week 2020.
2. Visit https://bandbweek.com/participate/ to submit your offer. Enter your property and offer details, and the National B&B Week team will promote them to the public and the press.
That’s it! Last year's National B&B Week generated nearly 100 pieces of press coverage for UK B&Bs (including a feature in the Sunday Times) and almost 20,000 visitors to the bandbweek.com website.
Over 150 offers have already been published. Submit yours now to get involved .
Another great couple of articles recently as a direct result of our press and PR activity. Thanks to our wonderful members for lending us your support.
Stuart Anderson – East Anglia
Feel Good Food Magazine
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