Things to do in Builth Wells

The Victorians and Edwardians appreciated Builth Wells for its health giving natural springs. Today, this friendly market town is a fine base for walking, cycling or a trip to the Royal Welsh Show.

  • Royal Welsh Show Sheep Pens
    Royal Welsh Show, Builth Wells by Katy/BlueyBirdy

    Every July, local media channels are abuzz with news from this massive agricultural gathering. You’ll see plenty of immaculately groomed cows, horses and sheep here, some displaying fabulous rosettes. But it’s not all about prize livestock – local food stalls, sports and entertainment add up to a fantastic family day out. 

  • Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. Welsh Pony Carts.
    Royal Welsh Agricultural Society, Builth Wells by Laurel Jarvis

    The RWAS showground, home of the Royal Welsh Show, hosts other big public events all year round. The highlights are the Spring Festival (May) for smallholding, gardening and sustainable living enthusiasts, and the Winter Fair (December), featuring livestock displays and a huge Christmas market.

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    Builth Bridge

    Kayaking towards Builth Bridge on the Wye at Builth Wells, Powys.
    Builth Bridge, Builth Wells by Ieuan Evans

    There’s been a bridge here for centuries. The one which stands today was built in 1779 and altered in the 1920s, as the original was only one cart wide. On calm days, when the river mirrors its graceful stone arches, it’s one of the prettiest bridges on the Wye. For the best views, head for The Groe. If it’s sunny, you could take a picnic.

  • Wyeside Arts Centre, Castle Street, Builth Wells.
    Wyeside Arts Centre, Castle Street, Builth Wells

    In Victorian times, when Builth was a popular spa town, this riverside building was both the market hall and the Assembly Rooms, used for concerts, dances and public meetings. Today, it’s a thriving little arts hub which presents films, live music, theatre, dance and big name comedy nights.

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    The Groe

    Autumn leaves at The Groe, Builth Wells.
    The Groe, Builth Wells by Ieuan Evans

    A stone circle, a striking war memorial, a splendid quartet of giant redwood trees and a statue of a prize bull mark the eastern edge of Builth’s large park. It’s home to the local rugby club, the Bulls. There’s a shady path beside the Wye, and masses of space to kick a ball around – or run with it, if you prefer.

  • In the centre of Builth Wells there is a 1000 feet square mural depicting the final days of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, the last native Prince of Wales.
    Llywelyn Mural, Builth Wells by Rhodri ap Hywel

    The end wall of a shop near the impeccably restored Lion Hotel is painted with scenes celebrating 13th century Welsh hero Llywelyn ap Gruffydd. As well as the prince himself, it shows his farrier, who reversed the shoes on Llywelyn’s horse to confuse his pursuers. Clever stuff. 

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    Monument to Llywelyn, Cilmery

    Monument to Llywelyn in between bare trees, Cilmery,
    Monument to Llywelyn, Cilmery by Rhodri ap Hywel

    Sadly, that nifty backwards-horseshoe trick wasn’t enough to save Llywelyn’s bacon. After defeating the English army at Menai Straits, Llywelyn set up camp near Builth in December 1282, hoping to raise support from local chieftains. Instead, he was ambushed and killed. A stone menhir now marks the spot.

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    Builth Castle

    Builth Castle.
    Builth Castle

    It’s a bit of a stretch to call this a castle, to be honest, since all that’s left is a grassy mound. But if you’re the imaginative sort, you’ll enjoy scrambling up to picture the scene in Norman times, when it was a timber motte and bailey, or in 1277, when Edward I had it rebuilt in stone, with a moat and drawbridge.

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    Wye Valley Walk

    The Lower Wye Valley from the Eagle's Nest, Wyndcliffe
    Wye Valley from the Eagle's Nest, Wyndcliffe by imaginedhorizons

    The Groe’s beautiful, tree-lined riverside path is part of a 136-mile walking route which follows the River Wye from its source all the way to Chepstow. From Builth, it’s 16.5 miles to Rhayader or 21 miles to Hay-on-Wye, through lush green landscapes. If you just have time for a stroll, you could head upstream to Penddol Rocks.

  • Couple cycling through Brecon Beacons by Talybont
    Couple cycling by Talybont through the Brecon Beacons

    Builth Wells lies at the junction of the northern and southern sections of the epic National Cycle Route 8, which connects Cardiff and Chepstow to Holyhead. Pedal north to explore Snowdonia, or south to plunge into the Brecon Beacons National Park. The 17 mile stretch to Rhayader is a favourite.