From the main car park opposite Rhayader Leisure Centre, take the Llandrindod Wells bus. Alight at Nantmel School, observing the War Memorial in the car park opposite. The village school serves the scattered rural community and once had as headmaster the author, H.L.V Fletcher (‘Shepherds Tump’ and other works with a Welsh setting). He lived in the now demolished School House, many years ago. There is a telephone box here (Pic 1).
Now walk up the lane to the left of the school, which shortly crosses the line of the Elan Aqueduct, carrying water from the Elan Valley to Frankley Beeches, west of Birmingham. Note the arches aqueduct bridge behind the school, rather like a railway viaduct, although rail never reached here in spite of plans as late as 1924 to build a line from the small terminus at New Radnor (now a caravan site) to a junction with the Mid Wales line at Rhayader.
Continue up the hill and on the right the splendid lytch gate of St. Cynllo’s Church can be seen. The old church is worth a visit—the antecedents of Prince Edward’s wife, Sophie Rhys-Jones are believed to have lived in the area. Leaving the church continue up the rather steep and long hill to a ‘T’ junction. Turn left downhill, with a view into the small valley of the Afon Dulas to your left.
At the foot of the lane you will join the main road (A44), continue in the same direction for 150 yards then turn right along the lane past the Dolau Chapel (Pic 2) sign posted for Abby-Cwm-Hir.
Follow this lane, listening out for the occasional vehicle. The lane may be muddy in places but not so much that the walker cannot appreciate the extensive views to the left and right. The rounded hill to your left (around which the lane circles) is known as Castle Hill. There is a good all-round view from the summit (there is a field path not on today’s itinerary which passes close to it)
After about a further two miles at the junction take the left hand lane for Rhayader. You will pass several farms to the right and left and after a little while the Elan Valley comes into view (Pic 3). Upon entering Rhayader itself the stream to your left is Rhyd-hir-Brook meaning ‘long ford’ through which the main road must have splashed years ago. Continue along Rhayader’s East Street to the centre of the town and the Clock Tower, where there are several places of refreshment.