Counties of Wales - Powys

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Hugging the English border, long and mountainous Powys is the largest county in Wales, covering a quarter of the country’s land. Named after the ancient Welsh Kingdom of Powys, which existed between the sixth and 13th centuries, there are hundreds of Bronze Age monuments scattered throughout the region, as well as numerous notable chapels and churches and, of course, plenty of castle ruins.

Brecon Beacons National Park is one of the biggest attractions in Powys. Pen-y-Fan Mountain is the highest in South Wales at just under 3,000 feet. There are a few different routes you can take to climb this peak, with varying levels of difficulty. However you reach the summit, you’ll be rewarded with fantastic views. Another highlight of this National Park is Four Waterfalls Walk. A trip here involves a two-hour walk along narrow country paths, where you’ll be rewarded with not one but four spectacles of cascading water.

Not everything at Brecon Beacons National Park involves climbing or walking. Boat trips down the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal are available. Opened in 1812, the waterway is 42 miles long. The boat journey takes you past beautiful scenery, quaint villages, lochs and bridges and pubs. There are also lots of opportunities for horseback riding, gorge walking, and caving and rock climbing expeditions when visiting the national park. You can book guided tours, or opt to explore independently.

Geo Park, Brecon Beacons, Powys, Wales(c) Crown Copyright

Powys is home to all four of Wales’ former spa towns. Builth Wells (once a tiny kingdom at war with the Kingdom of Powys) is a pretty place, popular as a stop-off for hikers and cyclists as they tackle the region’s long-distance routes. Surprisingly, there are four giant sequoias near the town’s Groe Park – two near the strand and two near the car park; they were planted to celebrate Buffalo Bill's visit in May 1904. Llandrindod Wells boasts the 12-acre Rock Park, complete with Victorian Arboretum, and the National Cycle Museum. Llangammarch Wells and Llanwrtyd Wells sit on the Heart of Wales rail line; the former is where you can find the Lake Country House Hotel and Spa, situated in a grand old hunting and fishing lodge, while the latter is known worldwide for its famous bog-snorkelling championships.

Presteigne is a fine spot to sample a stretch of the Offa’s Dyke Path – a trail that spans the entire length of the Wales/England border. The Judge’s Lodging Museum in the town has been left pretty much as it was in the 1800s; visitors can explore the courtroom, prison cells and living quarters, to get a fascinating glimpse of local history.

Art and culture abounds in Powys too, perhaps most famously in Hay-on-Wye, the book-lover’s dream town which hosts the annual Hay Festival of Literature and Arts. The festival was described by Bill Clinton as ‘the Woodstock of the mind’; sister events run internationally and speakers and guests come from all over the world to attend.

Make time for a trip to Powis Castle, a grand manor house with medieval origins, an incredible collection of art and historical objects, and magnificent gardens. The nearby village or Berriew is worth a pitstop for the Andrew Logan Museum of Sculpture alone.

In the north west of Powys, Machynlleth has become an unlikely hub for top notch comedy in the last decade, with an annual comedy festival drawing some of the nation’s best stand up comics. There’s also a Museum of Modern Art here, as well as the Owain Glyndŵr Centre, which showcases the history of the Welsh hero on the site where he established Wales’ first parliament.

101 Must-Do’ ways to live your regional connection.

Our 101 team have been working with local tourism, business, community and Council initiatives to bring you some of the best ways for you to live your connection to Powys.

Top 20 Surnames from Powys

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Isle of Anglesey Gwynedd Conwy Denbighshire Flintshire Wrexham Ceredigion Powys Pembrokeshire Carmarthenshire Monmouthshire Blaenau Gwent Swansea Neath Port Talbot Torfaen Caerphilly Merthyr Tydfil Rhondda Cynon Taff Bridgend Vale of Glamorgan Cardiff Visit England 101