Local Interest & History

of The Lion Royal, Rhayader

There are so many places to visit & things to do that we couldn't possibly list them all but we hope that this page might at least give you some ideas.

The Lion Royal Hotel Rhayader - Carnival day in Rhayader


The B4574 mountain road to Aberystwyth is described by the AA as one of the ten most scenic drives in the world.

The town is also a popular cycling centre and is on Route 8 of the United Kingdom National Cycle Network - Lôn Las Cymru.

Walkers and cyclists are drawn to Rhayader for the abundance of trails and bridleways surrounding the town, which is the gateway to a massive complex of reservoirs and dams (The Elan Valley), known as the 'Lakeland of Wales'. This vast area is home to some of Britain's rarest wildlife and plants, including red kites, along with magnificent feats of engineering.

Rhayader is also home to a museum, a leisure centre, numerous parks and all the amenities expected of a larger town. Rhayader is also renowned for being the town with the highest concentration of pubs and drinking establishments, per capita, in the UK with one to each 173 people.

In nearby Llanwrthwl the Living Willow Theatre, an open air theatre constructed of living willow trees, was opened in 2007.

The Lion Royal Hotel Rhayader - Fishing in the Elan Valley and on the River Wye


Fly-fishing only is available in the beautiful Elan Valley. The reservoirs, with a total area of 850 acres, support a good head of brown trout. The Association owns Llyngwyn, a 16-acre spring fed natural lake in quiet surroundings, with private car park at the lakeside. Three boats are available for anglers.

The lake is stocked regularly throughout the year with rainbow trout, and there is also a good stock of brown trout. Carp fishing is also allowed on part of the lake. Almost daily, red kites can be seen hovering above.

The Elan Valley reservoirs and Llyngwyn Lake are Troutmaster waters.

For the angler who is looking for river fishing, the Association has five miles of the river Wye for salmon, brown trout and grayling; two miles of the river Elan for brown trout, grayling, pike and some coarse fish; and three miles of the river Marteg (a tributary of the Wye) for brown trout. Fly fishing, spinning or worming is allowed on the rivers. Day permits and Summer or Winter Season permits are available.

Fishing tackle is also available in Rhayader. www.rhayaderangling.co.uk

The Lion Royal Hotel Rhayader - Wye Valley Walk

Wye Valley Walk

The 136 Mile (218km) Wye Valley Walk starts in Chepstow and follows the River Wye northwards through Herefordshire, entering Powys at Hay-on-Wye. It continues through the market towns of Builth Wells and Rhayader, continuing towards the Hafren Forest, north of Llanidloes, where it joins the Severn Way. www.wyevalleywalk.co.uk

The Lion Royal Hotel Rhayader - Sailing near Llanidloes Powys on Clywedog reservoir


Approximately 20 miles north of the hotel you will find Clywedog Sailing club. 615 acres of water within easy reach of both North and South Wales and the Midlands, Clywedog Sailing Club has been at home on Llyn Clywedog since 1968, amid some of the most tranquil and peaceful scenery in Mid Wales. www.clywedogsailing.org.uk

The Lion Royal Hotel Rhayader - Red Kite feeding centre at Gigrin Farm

Gigrin Farm Kite Centre

Gigrin Farm is located only 3/4 of a mile from the Lion Royal. Mid Wales has the greatest density and diversity of birds of prey in southern Britain... Mid Wales was home to the last remaining Native Red Kites. Now, due to the hard work of the Conservation bodies here in Wales, Red Kites are once again in the ascendance. The Red Kites are fed every day at 2pm GMT (3pm BST - the Kites don't know that we change the clocks for summer time!). www.gigrin.co.uk

The Lion Royal Hotel Rhayader - Gilfach Nature Reserve

Gilfach Nature Reserve

Approximately 4 miles from the Lion Royal, set in the lovely Marteg Valley just north of Rhayader, Gilfach is a 410 acre hill farm nature reserve, owned and managed by Radnorshire Wildlife Trust for the benefit of wildlife. The farm is a mosaic of habitat including traditional hay meadows, rocky outcrops, rhos pasture, wet flushes, hill-side scrub and oak woodland, and is of course hugely rich in flora and fauna. www.rwtwales.org

The Lion Royal Hotel Rhayader - Elan Valley Visitor Centre

Elan Valley Visitor Centre

The visitor centre is 3.5 miles from the hotel. A series of 6 dams in an area of outstanding natural beauty with scenic drives, waymarked trails, visitor centre. Ranger events, walks, bird watching, bug hunts, Dam open days, Pet show, childrens activities, guided walks and wildlife excursions. The Elan Valley Visitor Centre Visitor Centre is now open all season (10am until 5.30pm from March to end of October, 10am to 4pm from November until end of February, only closed on Christmas Day! Nearby you will find the pretty Elan Village - the only purpose-built Arts and Crafts "Model Village" in Wales. www.elanvalley.org.uk

The Lion Royal Hotel Rhayader - Abbeycwmhir


7 miles from the Lion Royal, you will find the village of Abbey-Cwm-Hir. Glyndwrs Way national walking trail and cycle route 25 pass through the village. Places of interest include the pretty village church, the ruins of the Cistercian Abbey founded in 1143, the gardens of Mill Cottage (open under the National Garden Scheme), the Happy Union Inn & The Hall at Abbey-Cwm-Hir is one of Wales' finest example of Victorian Gothic Revival architecture. The Monks' Trod runs between the Cisterian Abbeys of Cwm-Hir & Strata Florida. www.abbeycwmhir.org.uk

The Lion Royal Hotel Rhayader - Llywernog Silver Lead Mine Museum

Llywernog Silver-Lead Mine Museum

Located 23 miles from the hotel, Llywernog is an authentic 18th century silver mine. A visit to Llywernog offers a fascinating insight into life nearly 200 years ago, when the mine employed over 60 people. Today, Llywernog is a fascinating and educational family adventure, and continues to be developed as a major all-weather attraction.

Friendly and knowledgeable guides, who are always on hand to answer your questions and identify your geological finds, make Llywernog an ideal venue for schools and group visits. It’s cool in the mine even on the hottest day so warm clothing and stout footwear is a good idea!

The Lion Royal Hotel Rhayader - Devil's Bridge - Rheidol Gorge

Devil's Bridge

Take an 18 mile drive along the Aberystwyth mountain road enjoying the stunning scenery & you will find yourself at Devil's Bridge.

High in the mountains near Aberystwyth, there is a village where a very old bridge crosses a deep gorge. Above it are two other bridges built at later dates. But the lowest one....Well, they say that the Devil himself built it!

The waterfalls have attracted many thousands of visitors since the 18th century, including William Wordsworth who wrote about the "Torrent at the Devil's Bridge". Today, the Falls Nature Trail provides a unique opportunity to see this great natural feature in the Rheidol Gorge. www.devilsbridgefalls.co.uk

The Lion Royal Hotel Rhayader - Welsh Royal Crystal

Welsh Royal Crystal

Just half a mile from the hotel, Rhayader is home to Welsh Royal Crystal - the last hand-crafted Crystal Glass making in Wales. Centuries old handcrafting skills are used in the Welsh Royal Crystal glass making workshops.

All crystal pieces are individually hand cut, thus capturing the clarity, brilliance and sharpness of cut associated with quality crystal ware. The range of shapes and decorative cuts embraces Traditional, Intaglio and Celtic design influences, which are unique to Welsh Royal Crystal products. www.welshroyalcrystal.co.uk

The Lion Royal Hotel Rhayader - Real Ale

Real Ale

There are some fantastic breweries nearby.

  • The Waen Brewery, Llanidloes. LINK
  • Three Tuns Brewery, Bishop's Castle. LINK
  • Six Bells Brewery, Bishop's Castle. LINK
  • Heart of Wales Brewery, Llanwrtyd Wells. LINK
  • Jacobi Brewery, Caio. LINK
  • The Wood Brewery, Craven Arms. LINK
  • Hobsons Brewery, Cleobury Mortimer. LINK
  • Monty's Brewery, Montgomery. LINK

The Lion Royal Hotel Rhayader - Cambrian Safaris

Cambrian Safaris

Cambrian Safaris provides excursions into the Cambrian Mountains in a Land Rover Discovery. ​Come and enjoy fantastic views and scenery, local history and wildlife. We will pick you up from your accommodation or arrange a meeting point. http://www.cambriansafaris.co.uk

The Lion Royal Hotel Rhayader - Rheidol Railway - Devil's Bridge to Aberyswyth

Rheidol Railway

A blast of the whistle and the hiss of steam and you’re away! Sit back, relax and let us take you on a nostalgic journey through some of Wales’ most spectacular scenery. The line runs between Devil's Bridge & Aberystwyth. www.rheidolrailway.co.uk

The Lion Royal Hotel Rhayader - Rally Driving

Rally Driving

About 20 miles west of the Lion Royal, you will find the Phil Price Rally School. The Higgins Forest Experience Rally School & Off-Road Centre is approximately 25 miles north of the hotel. philprice.co.uk & www.higginsrallyschool.com

Brief history of the Lion Royal Hotel

The Lion Royal Hotel Rhayader - early 20th century view of West Street from a similar viewpoint as the Carnival photograph

This was formerly the RED LION, under which name it was known for at least 250 years, and probably for a longer period than that. Ogilby mentioned it as a principal Inn at Rhayader in his Britannia, published in 1675. It became a well known coaching Inn from the time when coaches first penetrated into this part of the country. The turnpike road from Presteigne and Kington to Rhayader was completed in 1779 and by about 1790 the road had been carried through to Aberystwyth. Before these roads were made, very little wheeled traffic of any kind passed through Rhayader, but by 1781 the Red Lion had its own postchaises, and the coaches followed soon afterwards. A weekly wagon service between Rhayader and Kington was instituted in 1781, performing the journey of 26 miles in 12 hours.

Clipscomb stayed at the Red Lion in 1799. In his "Journey Into Wales" he wrote that the landlord was "a well-informed man, and a good-humoured Welsh girl, with no knowledge of English, was the only attendant, but possessed genuine politeness." For supper he and his friends were served with "a couple of roasted fowls, ham dish, veal cutlets, piece of cold beef, excellent tarts, and a quart of strong beer per man." The charge for this meal (which present patrons will hardly expect to be repeated) was ONE SHILLING.

The Red Lion was well established as a coaching Inn by 1814, and is mentioned in Cary's Traveller's Companion of that year. In 1815 it was described as "a bow-sashed house," where postchaises could be hired at 1/4d a mile. The Stage Coaches at this period, and up to the end of 1820 continued to use the old road to Aberystwyth, by way of the Devil's Bridge. The Coaches only extended their run from Rhayader to Aberystwyth, in the summer months. The road via Llangurig did not come into use until about 1830. The Royal Mail coaches began to come by Rhayader to Aberystwyth in 1835, and ran daily on this road, summer and winter alike until 1858. Other coaches continued to use the Aberystwyth road up to 1864 when the railway was completed, to make direct connection with Aberystwyth through Llanidloes.

Probably the most enterprising landlord of the Red Lion, was James Lantrow who died in 1825. He ran his own coaches from the Bull and Mouth, London, through Oxford and Worcester, to the Kings Head, Kington, extending the service twice weekly in the summer to the Talbot Inn, Aberystwyth. He also ran a goods wagon Rhayader and Kington, where it connected with wagons for London and other places. In 1816 the coach took 28 hours to get from Kington to London, and 13 hours from Kington to Aberystwyth. Rather better times were made in 1825, owing to an improvement in the roads.

We can imagine that travellers on those journeys had time to enjoy the hospitality of the landlord of the Red Lion, such as they may do today, under its changed name of the Lion Royal. But if we seek the ghosts of the Royal Mail and its passengers, surely they dwell only on the road. No lingering laughter at the bar for those breathless adventurers, who left Kington at 1.23pm and were in Aberystwyth at 8.13; returning, they left the Gogerddan Arms (now the Lion Royal) at 5.30am, Rhayader at 9.30am and arrived at Kington 12.44pm. These were the times given in the schedule of 1835. They were never beaten, even by the coaches of the 1860's, and so strictly were they observed that people set their clocks by the passing of the Royal Mail.