Llandrindod Wells (Llandrindod)
The Victorian and Edwardian glory days of this pleasantly faded spa town live on in its delightful architecture – Queen Anne and Edwardian baroque hotels and terraces that are arrestingly grand to this day. However, once the allure of the iron-, sulphur- and saline-rich waters dwindled, Llandrindod relaxed into sleepy obscurity.
Set around a market square lined with handsome stone and brick houses, and overlooked by the ruins of a Norman castle, genteel Montgomery is one of the prettiest small towns in the country. A charming mixture of Georgian, Victorian and timber-framed houses (many marked by helpful historical plaques) lines the streets, and there are a number of excellent places to eat.
Tucked beneath looming slopes of pine on the edge of Snowdonia National Park, Corris is a peaceful former slate village, 5 miles north of Machynlleth. With a steam railway, craft centre, theatre, great bike trails and subterranean tours of the village's old slate mine and caves, it's well worth a stop.
Hilly Knighton (Tref-Y-Clawdd; the town on the dyke) is a lively, handsome town of winding streets and half-timbered houses midway along the Offa's Dyke Path National Trail and at one end of the Glyndŵr's Way National Trail. A popular stopover for walkers, it is so close to the border that its train station is actually in England.
At the far east of the vanished county of Radnorshire, pressed right up against the English border, is Presteigne – its former county town. It's a very appealing little place, lined with handsome old buildings, studded with tearooms, craft shops and farmers' pubs and surrounded by beautiful countryside.
The Elan Valley is filled with strikingly beautiful countryside, split by imposing Victorian and Edwardian feats of civil engineering. In the late 19th century, dams were built on the River Elan (pronounced ellen), west of Rhayader, mainly to provide a reliable water supply for Birmingham. Around 100 people had to move, but only landowners received compensation.
Shortly before the River Rhiw empties into the Severn, it gurgles through this pretty village of black-and-white houses, grouped around an ancient oval churchyard. Tiny Berriew is the unlikely location for the Andrew Logan Museum of Sculpture; when it's closed there's not much to do here except stroll around and take in the scenery.
At tiny Pilleth a whitewashed church on a hill overlooks the peaceful valley where 800 men were killed in the 1402 victory by Owain Glyndŵr over Edmund Mortimer (Mortimer was captured, switched sides and married Glyndŵr's daughter). Most of them were buried in mass graves in the churchyard.
Two miles before Builth Wells on the A483 is the place where Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, the last Welsh Prince of Wales, was killed in a chance encounter with a lone English soldier in 1282. The spot is marked with a sad obelisk of Caernarfon granite. The site is often strewn with nationalist banners and pamphlets.