The area’s simply too big and there’s too much to do. You could spend four days with the family at Green Man or the Hay Festival. You could spend a week pottering the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal, or searching for the perfect beach on Cardigan Bay, or getting utterly lost - in the best possible way - among the Cambrian Mountains.
But we like a challenge. So if you’re up for it, here’s a four day, circular tour of big, beautiful Mid Wales. We’re only scratching the surface, of course. But if you like the sound of what we’ve got to offer, feel free to come down and design your own tour. You may need a couple of spare weeks, mind.
Day 1 - The Brecon Beacons National Park
There are three mountain ranges that make up the 519 square miles of this glorious National Park. The central range – the Brecon Beacons themselves – have the highest peaks in southern Britain, but even the highest, Pen y Fan, is just an hour’s walk from the road, and we regularly see young children on the summit, looking mightily chuffed with themselves. To the east, the Black Mountains (plural) fall away towards the English border; to the west, the lonely Black Mountain (singular – confusing, isn’t it?) stands tall over the Towy Valley. A family favourite is the Waterfall Country north of Neath, which includes waterfalls you can actually walk behind. And which child doesn’t find that amazing?
Day 2 - Cardigan Bay
Look! It’s a dolphin! Or it is a porpoise? It’s definitely not a seal, because that’s one over there. We’re not saying you’ll get bored of seeing marine mammals off the Cardigan coast, but sightings are so regular, you’d be desperately unlucky not to see something – and maybe even a whale, or a basking shark (they’re totally harmless, by the way). There are plenty of specialist boat-trips from the harbour towns like Aberaeron, Cardigan and New Quay. Alternatively, find yourself a clifftop – the stretch between Cardigan and Aberporth is particularly stunning – crack open the picnic, and watch, and wait. You won’t have to wait long, we promise.
Day 3 - Aberystwyth
Aberystwyth is a proper pier-and-prom Victorian resort, with the added bonus of a thriving university and arts centre. There’s a lot to do in the town itself, including the rail ride up Constitution Hill to look at the camera obscura, the National Library of Wales, and Ceredigion Museum. One of the favourite family day trips from Aberystwyth is on the Vale of Rheidol steam railway, which chugs from 12 miles to Devil’s Bridge, where there are actually three bridges, stacked on top of each other, the lowest dating back 1,000 years. This was built by the Devil himself, according to local legend, although in truth the credit should go to the other team: Cistercian monks from Strata Florida monastery.
Day 4 - Welshpool
Sticking with the train theme, the mainline Cambrian Line cuts across Mid Wales from Aberystwyth to Shrewsbury. On the way, it stops at Machynlleth, a terrific market town where the farming community rubs shoulders with all kinds of artistic and hippy influences, and the town also has strong connections with Welsh warrior hero Owain Glyndŵr. Nearby, the Centre for Alternative Technology is a superb family day out, where the strong environmental message is leavened with a lot of fun (they strongly encourage you to eat the flowers, which is nice). Then it’s on to Welshpool, a classy half-timbered borders town, whose star attraction is Powis Castle, which has easily some of the best gardens in Britain. There's also Powysland Museum and the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway to explore for a bit of local heritage.