A bustling little town in the hills with plenty in the way of culture, creativity and beautiful surroundings
The perfect example of good things coming in small packages, the little Powys market town of Llanfyllin is a vibrant hub of culture and creativity.
And while many visitors to the area use it as a base from which to explore the surrounds – namely Lake Vyrnwy, Pistyll Rhaeadr and the Berwyns – Llanfyllin is a day out in its own right.
Nestled amid the hills of northern Powys and flanked by the rivers Afon Cain and the diminutive Afon Abel – presumably named after the biblical brothers – Llanfyllin is a friendly hillside town with a reputation as a haven for arty types and alternative culture, thanks possibly to its heritage as an early pagan settlement. The name derives from seventh-century Celtic saint Myllin, and both a well and parish church dedicated to the holy man help give the town its unique identity.
The town boasts an attractive high street with some striking architecture, such as timber-framed gem The Hall.
Shops worth checking out include grocers and wholefoods store Down to Earth (tel: 01691 648841), quirky gift shop Wishing Well (tel: 01691 648648) and the workshop of weathervane and sculpture artist Stanley Jankowski (tel: 07929 566342), one of whose creations graces the town square. The Butty Bank Café (tel: 07969 670664) is a Tourist Information Centre and sells local arts and crafts including cards and prints by photographer Cordelia Weedon (whose images are pictured).
For a bite to eat, Seeds is a cosy eatery in a lovely Grade II-listed building, serving up classic bistro-style fare with Welsh produce taking centre stage. Alternatively, Cain Valley Hotel, a characterful 17th-century former coaching inn, offers hearty pub grub and local and guest ales. Or, for scrumptious gastro-pub classics with waterside views, try the Tavern Brasserie at the nearby Lake Vyrnwy Hotel.
Any day out in Llanfyllin wouldn’t be complete without seeing Y Dolydd Llanfyllin Workhouse.
Its dramatic restoration was the subject of a TV programme and it’s one of just a few surviving examples of these “poorhouses”, where paupers were sent to live and work from the early 19th century onwards.
The bleak and forbidding building is home to Wales’ only workhouse museum and provides a rare insight into this fascinating and controversial annal of the past. With a visitor trail and film, it’s open daily and is free of charge. Its six-acre site includes a sensory garden, and both the building and grounds host art exhibitions and events throughout the year.
On the outskirts of town, atop Green Hall Hill overlooking Llanfyllin, is what remains of The Lonely Tree (pictured in its former glory) – a once-majestic Scots pine of European significance.
A prominent local landmark for two centuries, and the site of numerous marriage proposals, the former Wales Tree of the Year made national news when a whole community rallied to try to save it after it was felled by hurricane-strength storms in 2014. While the tree is sadly no more – though some saplings are currently taking root and it’s hoped one will prove a worthy successor – the hill walk is worth it alone for the stunning vistas of Llanfyllin and surroundings in this beautiful corner of Mid Wales.
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