Mountain roads and why you should avoid them at all costs *smirk*
Part of my directions to get here include the phrase "don't let your Sat-Nav direct you over the mountain road in Welshpool" a valuable local tip for people unfamiliar with the roads. What can be a shortcut to some, is a hellish diversion over a winding mountain road to others, so best to hedge your bets on the main road for your first trip to Mid Wales and hope you don't get caught in traffic.
What I don't mention is that the mountain roads around here usually lead to some lovely hidden gems that we want to keep all to ourselves, but because I'm very accommodating here at Nant Awen I'll mention a few places worth visiting, also I needed a new blog post topic, so we all win here.
Might as well start with the road already mentioned over the mountain between Carno and Welshpool that can lead to what we all know and love, a waterfall detour!
As the largest, single drop waterfall in Britain and the site of a David Beckham shower scene for an advert, who wouldn't want to visit Pistyll Rhaeadr in Llanfair Ym Mochnant? A walk up to the top of the falls allows for a view down the valley before stopping for a cuppa in the tea room below.
Sometimes a detour over the mountain road leads to an afternoon tea with a view- it's what we all want because, well, cake. Winding over and between the mountains from Carno via Llangadfan* up to the man-made reservoir, Lake Vyrnwy. The option to hire bikes and cycle around the lake is there, but let's be honest with ourselves, it's the afternoon tea we're really interested in. Up on the hill looking down over the lake is the Hotel and Spa, which offers a romantic vantage point over the valley.
*chance to grab a cuppa and a cake at the Dyffryn in Foel if you can't wait until you get to the lake!
Mountain detour that you're likely to get lost on? Here you go, iiiiit's Glaslyn. On the mountain road between Llanidloes and Machynlleth this nature reserve has some parking in a small lay-by then it's a walk down the track to get to the lake. As previously mentioned this is a nature reserve, and that means lots of stuff!
We got birds, insects, flora, fauna, 129 different types of fungi/lichen, I mean this place is LITchen! Worth stopping by if you want real peace and quiet.
Bwlch Y Groes
If it's mountain roads you want, this is your one.
The second highest public road pass in Wales at 545 meters it leads to Lake Vyrnwy, Llanuwchllyn (big, oddly symmetrical natural lake) and Dinas Mawddwy, so there are plenty of ways to find yourself on this mountain detour. This pass was part of the pilgrimage from Ynys Mon to St David's, marked by the wooden cross near the summit, a version of which has been there since the middle ages.
From the viewing point you can also see natural veins of peat on a nearby mountain ridge, for all you pedologists out there. More recently it had been used as a testing area for Triumph and Austin cars. It's a steep, narrow and winding road that has a very impressive view at the top, worth the detour if you ask me.
If you find yourself heading towards the coast but don't want to see the sea, you can take a scenic detour on a mountain road that leads you to Pontarfynnach, or Devil's Bridge. A world renowned area of Wales thanks to both Hinterland and the legend of an old lady and the devil (it's a classic) it's a worthwhile visit.
Two rivers meet at one gorge where they make for some pretty impressive waterfall action. A great opportunity to get your steps in on a walk down the gorge and back, or just have a look at the sign and then chill out over lunch at the Hafod Hotel across the road.
Now remember what I said, there's nothing to see here, so keep to the main road and definitely don't make any detours to see these wonderful hidden gems... I mean, these very unremarkable places... *side eye*