If you're after a couple of days exploring the quieter areas of the Welsh outdoors, head to the northern reaches of our wonderful Cambrian Mountains. Follow our two day itinerary and make the most of your time in this lovely region of Wales.
Day one: exploring Llanidloes and Hafren Forest
Llanidloes is a small, friendly town by the River Severn, easily reached from the A470 on The Cambrian Way. Our journey starts here, so arrive early to enjoy a tasty coffee and cake in one of the many independent cafes. The rest of the morning is free to explore the rural town before making your way towards Llyn Clywedog and Hafren Forest.
Industry and insurgence
Llanidloes' focal point is the distinctive 17th century black and white timber-framed Old Market Hall. The town had a thriving textile industry, and was famous for being involved in the 19th century Chartist uprisings. Head to the Llanidloes Museum to find out more about the area's heritage, then visit the Minerva Arts Centre to see the beautiful vintage quilts and textiles on display. There are plenty of antique shops, delis and independent shops to explore. Have lunch in one of the pubs or cafes, or pick up a picnic from a deli.
Remote reservoirs and native woodlands
After exploring Llanidloes, head north out of the town on the B4518. Turn left at the signpost towards Llyn Clywedog, a man-made reservoir with incredible big-sky views. This single track road road around the reservoir is a real treat for drivers - narrow and twisty - so take care.
The remains of Bryntail Lead Mines are on the way, right under the shadow of the impressive Clywedog Dam. Follow the brown sign to the car park. A walk along the mile-long waymarked Clywedog Gorge Trail around the site is a great way to see everything. Glyndwr's Way National Trail passes through the area so it's also a good starting point for walks.
Along the road above the dam, there's a viewing point with parking areas overlooking the reservoir. It's a decent spot for a flask of hot drink or a packed lunch. Watch out for rare ospreys over the water between April and August. Once you've refuelled, carry on to Hafren Forest to explore for an hour or so. There's a choice of relaxing or strenuous waterfalls walks in the forest, where you can enjoy being immersed in native woodlands. There's free parking, pushchair and wheelchair-friendly trails, and accessible toilets.
Sunset and stars
Follow the B4518 north then turn left onto the twisty narrow mountain road towards Machynlleth. It genuinely feels like the middle of nowhere up there. The views are widescreen - stop and gaze over the desolate-seeming expanse of moorland surrounding Glaslyn Nature Reserve's sky-reflecting lake. Park up by the entrance to the reserve (there's limited parking), or head a bit further on to the Wynford Vaughan Thomas viewpoint. You'll enjoy dramatic views across miles of gently-shaded hills in hues of green and brown towards the wilder north. Experiencing the sun set over Foel Fadian's peak is incredible. The multitude of colours blazing across the sky against silhouetted hills is truly awe-inspiring.
You are in proper Dark Skies territory here, so settle yourselves comfortably and watch the stars emerging from the afterglow.
First, the planets - Venus and Saturn appear bright over the western horizon through the vestiges of the sunset. Then, as the skies darken, the constellations appear - the Plough and Sirius to the North, the Milky Way's river of stars across our galaxy, Mars a bright red dot. Marvel at the twinkling canopy of stars above.
When you head back to your accommodation, with some advance notice, your hosts may be able to book you into a stargazing session with an expert. There's also an official Dark Sky Discovery Site back down the road at Y Star Inn Car Park, Dylife.
Day two: get active with outdoor adventures
If you're in an enthusiastic mood and the day looks fine, get up early and aim for the Llyn Clywedog viewing point for a sunrise to remember. After a decent breakfast back at base, there are plenty of options for some outdoor adventures before you head home.
Walking near Llyn Clywedog
The area round Llyn Clywedog has many waymarked trails to follow, including Glyndŵr's Way National Trail and the Severn Way. Chances are you won't see many fellow hikers. For a good morning's strenuous trek, follow the path in Hafren Forest to the source of the River Severn on Pumlumon Fawr. There are also lots of woodland trails to explore for all abilities.
The trails round Glaslyn Nature Reserve are ideal for an amble about looking at the rare flora. For a bit more effort climb up nearby Foel Fadian - a short walk but steep in places. The views are worth it.
Get on your bike
Try a few hours off-road motorbiking at the Yamaha Off Road Experience down the road from Staylittle, or head out a few miles from Llanidloes to SweetLamb KTM Adventure Experience. Both places offer beginners courses through to expert level.
Fishing on Llyn Clywedog
Bring your rod and licence and go fishing on the reservoir. The Clywedog Trout Fishery offers day permits, boat hire including accessible wheelyboats, and guided fishing sessions.
Parking in Llanidloes: there is free parking by the river, or a couple of pay-and-display car parks in the town.
Llanidloes is easy to get to by public transport, but you'll need to cycle, or walk along Glyndwr's Way to get to and around Llyn Clywedog. There are a couple of places to hire bikes in Llanidloes. Traveline Cymru is a useful public transport journey planner.