We had two of our grandchildren here for a fortnight at the beginning of August so I thought I would list some of the activities that they enjoyed while here. The list demonstrates just what a lot of activities there are here, parents and children can find lots to do and enjoy, just as adult visitors can.
On their very first evening we were able to take them to the Willow Theatre where the Big Friendly Giant recounted snippets from all the Roald Dahl stories and his life. The Willow Theatre is a magical place, the Globe Theatre created from living willow.
The town walk is an ideal start to a holiday in the Rhayader area, it helps to orientate, and to give some idea of the beauty and character of the town.
The Gigrin Farm visit, for kite feeding, is an absolute essential, people travel from all over Britain to watch the spectacle of dozens or even hundreds of Red Kites being fed at the Kite Centre. Our family also stayed on at the farm to investigate some of the other attractions there.
Both children really enjoyed a two hour visit to Rhayader Community Museum. They completed a quest, were fascinated by the video on poaching, dressed up, as a fairy, and a Medieval foot soldier. They coloured in pictures and drew their own, and collated a whole list of names for a toilet!
They drove past the Elan Valley dams and reservoirs to the Aberystwth Mountain Road, and then through the Ystwth valley to Devil’s Bridge. They did the full visit to the gorge, which takes the best part of an hour, before boarding the Rheidol
Valley narrow gauge railway train for the journey to Aberystwth. It was very windy in Aber that day, so while they braved the beach we toured the Ceridigion Museum. After the return train journey we returned to Rhayader via the A44. Warning: the train timetable is very much geared for visitors to Aberystwth to make the journey to Devil’s Bridge, do the gorge and then return, it is only in August
that they run an extra journey which allows travellers from Devil’s Bridge to Aber to have time in the town. Having said that the journey is well worth while even without spending time in Aber.
A mammoth walk from the cottage, up the Elan Valley to the top dam, then climbing up the hillside to return to Elan Village across the top, finally scrambling down Y Foel. This is only for the young and fit (well fit anyway) and took about four hours! A bit much for us!
The Elan Valley Scavenge, is organised by the Rangers. Children are provided with a paper bag and a list of items to search for – a black seed, an oak leaf, a narrow leaf, something smooth, etc, etc. All of the items can be fairly easily found in the circuit from the Visitor’s centre across the bridge below the dam and back along the low path to the Bailey Bridge. We then took all our new treasures home and pasted down a selection onto card to make a montage. Very artistic and rewarding.
We made a mistake, we had seen that there was to be some organised pond dipping, and we had presumed it was at the Gilfach Nature Discovery Centre, it was somewhere else, but we had taken our own nets and bucket, and the Marteg is a broad and shallow stream at the point where a style gives access to it. An hour plus of concentration and experiment had six confused minnows swimming around our bucket with a handful of other river life. Once they had been returned to the wild we enjoyed ice cream and tea at the Centre, and saw that there was a Den Building event the following day.
Returning the next day for the Den Building, Susie, one of the Radnorshire Wildlife Trust employees led 20 kids with “responsible adults” up into the oak wood.
This is a brilliant event, the children put in huge effort, cutting and carting bracken, building and covering structures, then, with a structure in place they were encouraged to make masks of leaves and twigs, before a Grand Tour of the new buildings. Quite the biggest den was built 40 foot up a steep bank and all the bracken for it was enthusiastically carted by one fit 10 year old. I imagine he slept well that night!
We were so enthused we had to build a den in our garden the next day. Interestingly we had suggested a little gathering of kindling sticks as a worthwhile activity, but that had been condemned as “boring”, but, as a part of den building, kindling was enthusiastically dragged into the garden. Hopefully the bracken will also make good kindling once it has dried out. Our den used the old apple tree as primary structure, so it became “Apple Tree Cottage”, carpeted with a plastic sheet and complete with shingle table.
The Rheidol Valley Train has a cost, which for two hour long journeys through the most magnificent scenery is not too expensive, £15.00 per adult with concessions for pensioners and children, the gorge is less than £5.00 each, there is also a modest cost for Gigrin Farm. The Museum has lost its Arts Council funding, along with just about everything else to do with the Arts in Mid Wales, so have to make a charge, and the Willow Theatre also charge for entry. However, it could be considered that, apart from a £2 donation towards the costs of the den building masks, many of the best of the fortnight’s activities do not cost. We know that our grandchildren will be very happy to come back again for another holiday, and we can’t wait for them to come so that we can do more fun things such as river dipping and den building!