For our next adventure, Jaffa and myself were invited over to Mid Wales to stay at Beili Neuadd Bunkhouse a dog friendly bunkhouse near Rhayader. The Saturday morning arrived and we packed up with mixture of clothes and outdoor gear, as you never know what the weather is going to bring, and headed west. With me at the steering wheel and Jaffa contentedly in his cage, both looking forwarded to some good walks in rural Wales. Our route took us through Worcester and as we drove though the city a lovely aqueduct spanned over the road and the river next to the racecourse looked absolutely beautiful in the sunshine. If we had more than a weekend for our trip, we would have stopped to explore. We left the city behind, following the A44, through the countryside with hills and bends.
I was getting hungry and Jaffa was ready for a break, when I spotted a sign advertising a 16th century country pub called Live and Let Live. I turned into a lane and down hill on to dirt track surrounded by the heather and grass of Bringsty common. There was the beautiful thatched pub, with views over to the Malvern Hills in distance. Jaffa was ecstatic to find it was dog friendly. After gammon egg and chips and sticky toffee pudding (delicious) and a nice chat with the friendly staff, I picked up a laminated walk sheet from the pub’s selection and we went out to walk off lunch. After a wrong turn on the common, I was in need of a map. Luckily I have the ViewRanger app on my phone, which has every map in the country on it. In the distance across the fields I could see a big Manor House so we headed that way passing cows, sheep and streams only to find the house was a wedding venue and the bride and groom were on the lawn having pictures taken beside the lake! Using the maps on View Ranger I was able to find a route back to the pub, this time through the Brockhampton National Trust Estate. We used the marked Blue Route through the estate’s wood and came across a horse statue before arriving back on Bringsty common. We walked to the trig point at the top of Bringsty common where we had lovely views of the Malvern hills and beyond. This was a really great route, I would recommend it.
Back on the road we passed through some lovely towns and villages. We stopped to get some self catering supplies at the town of Rhayader, a couple of miles before Belili Neuadd Bunkhouse. Rhayader has free parking in main town car park and plenty of pubs, cafes and restaurants. You could stay here for a week and have a different place to go each day. I opted for fish, chips and mushy peas, wrapped to go, and headed off to the bunkhouse.
At Belili Neuadd Bunkhouse I was welcomed by David and Alison and Alfie their dog. Belili Neuadd Bunkhouse is in the countryside but not far from Rhayader (my take-away was still warm). There is a patio with BBQ and seats, set within a lovely garden with views over the countryside and free range chickens wandering around. The kitchen had plenty of cutlery and everything you need to cater for a big group. The water comes from a under ground pump. Jaffa and his new friend kept me company in the dog friendly bunkhouse while I ate and Alison very kindly brought me a homemade cake for pudding. Unusually, I was the only person in the bunkhouse that night and Jaffa and I had a dorm to ourselves with an en suite wet room. The shower was lovely and warm and we had everything we needed including bedding and soap. Luckily I know that when staying in a hostel/bunkhouse you bring your own towel. I was invited to the main house to socialise in the lounge and had a very nice evening meeting with house guests, Alan and Alan, who were on a bike ride from Devon and Cornwall.
The dorm was warm and there where plenty of blankets. The moonlight shone through the window and after a quick rig-up of a blanket blind, Jaffa and I had a great night’s sleep. Sunday we woke to find mist clearing to reveal lovely scenery. You can self cater in the bunkhouse but I decided to spoil myself with a Welsh Breakfast at the farmhouse. It was a lovely cooked full breakfast made from food produced on the farm, with toast and jam to finish up. Alan and Alan came to join me.
I am a member of the Ramblers and you can hire maps from their head office with routes for local walks. The route that they recommend near Rhayader looked good. Alison made me a pack-up and let me borrow her dog Alfie and we drove to the start of the walk at Cwmdeuddwr car park. Jaffa, Alfie and I headed up a mountain road then branched off along a byway into the hills, passing a cottage where a couple had lived for over 20 years. On reaching the top we came to some Standing Stones, probably bronze age, with stunning views in every direction. Down across the moors and mountains passing a waterfall, then up to the trig point Crugyn Ci (533m749ft) where we passed some runners running down. Here I ate Alison’s lovely packed lunch and enjoyed the peaceful views for long time. Eventually we headed down into the Elan Valley with its vast reservoirs and forests. At the top reservoir we stopped and learnt about how the reservoirs supply Birmingham’s drinking water. At Garry Road car park a local gave us some good advice to walk on west side of the reservoir instead of the tarmac cycle trail on east side. So we did and it was beautiful though the trees, meadow and tracks. I kept stopping to look at the view and water below. We crossed the dam on a road and rejoined the Elan Valley Cycle Trail, following it down to the Visitor Centre. This was the first time all day we had seen civilization and I was looking forward to a nice drink and cake at the Elan Valley Visitor Centre. Unfortunately the Centre was not dog friendly and I did not feel I could leave the dogs tied up outside so we continued on our way.
The Elan Valley Cycle Track is 8 miles from the top to bottom and were were on the last 3 miles. To begin with this section was near a road, but the last mile took us to a disused railway tunnel that is now a nature reserve. The trail ended in the car park where we had started at the beginning of the day some 15 miles before. I returned Alfie to the Alison and thanked her for a great weekend and headed off for home. I would recommend this area, it’s beautiful and peaceful and Beili Neaudd Bunkhouse was warm and welcoming,
Look out for another great Alex and Jaffa adventures weekend, coming to this blog soon.