Where to go, what to see, and finding good food around Drovers Retreat
Drovers Retreat is set in the magnificent scenery of the Welsh Borders, on the edge of the Radnor Forest.
Whilst it is the rural peace and superb landscape which attracts many people to the area, there are also many other attractions to the area. Here we give a taster of these attractions. local towns, eating out and sourcing local food.
For local culture, of which there is a surprising amount, click here.
Apart from the magnificent and unspoiled landscapes of the Welsh Marches, local visitor attractions include:
at nearby Penybont (4 miles) is The Thomas Shop – a village shop preserved from the 1950’s and before. 01597 851951
the Elan Valley dams and reservoirs near Rhayader, which supply Birmingham's water;
Presteigne's Judges Lodgings enable you to experience a Victorian courtroom, complete with cells;
the Spaceguard Centre (12 miles) at Knighton is a working observatory, and the main source of information about near Earth objects in the UK;
Knighton Livestock Market (9 miles).Here local farmers bring their livestock (sheep and cattle) to sell, as they have done for hundreds of years. It offers visitors a great sense of the local farming community, and is fascinating to watch the bidding process. The market is held every Thursday and some Fridays. For current dates see here.
and of course, superb walks in all directions from Drovers Retreat.
The gloriously picturesque Heart of Wales railway line has a station 2 miles away at Dolau. Head north towards Shrewsbury, or south towards south Wales and Swansea, through some of the most beautiful and unspoilt countryside in Britain.
Eight miles east beyond Knighton and you are across Offa's Dyke into England, with its pretty Black and White villages, and market towns. Head west towards the Cambrian Mountains, and the most spectacular scenery. The Brecon Beacons are not far away. Everywhere is walking country, and castles, country pubs and picturesque market towns await you either side of the Wales/England Border.
Many of the market towns on the Welsh/English border are picturesque and full of interest. Places such as Ludlow (29 miles) and Leominster (26 miles) were developed on the wealth of the Medieval wool trade. Hay-on-Wye (30 miles), famed for its annual book festival, and its many second-hand book shops is about 40 minutes away.
Knighton (10 miles)
Known as the Town on the Dyke, Knighton boasts the Offa's Dyke Visitor's Centre, which is a fascinating free exhibition about the 8th Century earthwork built by Offa, the King of Mercia. The dyke follows the Welsh English border from the hills above Prestatyn to the Severn Estuary near Chepstow.
A traditional Border Country market town, Knighton, which straddles the English/Welsh border, is certainly worth a visit. A busy livestock market, as well as a Community Market, with plenty of local produce, independent shops and some great coffee shops are amongst its attractions. If you haven't been to a livestock auction. Knighton's is well worth a visit. There are auctions every Thursday (Finished Lambs and Cull Ewes) and the first and third Friday in every month – Store Cattle and Store Sheep.
Llandrindod Wells (10 miles)
Llandrindod Wells (known locally as Lllandod), developed as a Victorian Spa town. The legacy of this is some fine Victorian architecture. Now the County Town of Powys, it hosts the main Powys County Council buildings, and is an attractive town to wander around. The Llandrindod lake has a cafe and is a pleasant walk around its edge.
The town developed from the mid-19th century as a fashionable spa around its mineral springs, which can still be taken today. This was boosted by the arrival of the railway in 1862, which gave visitors an easy way to access the town. The railway also remains, and the Heart of Wales line connects Swansea with Shrewsbury, and is one of the country's most scenic routes. One station, Dolau, lies just over 2 miles from Drovers Retreat.
PRESTEIGNE (12 miles)
One-time capital of the old county of Radnorshire, Presteigne is an attractive Border town, with plenty of activity.
Together with many independent shops, cafes and restaurants, Presteigne is worth visiting for the Judges Lodgings, with the audio conducted tours, ending up in the dock of the old courthouse.
Rhayader (14 miles)
The series of dams which supply Birmingham with its water are just outside the small town of Rhayader at the Elan Valley. A fantastic engineering feat of the late 19th century and early 20th century, at close quarters the dams are staggering.
The huge water pipeline which stretches from the dams to Birmingham is to be found 300 feet below Drovers Woodland Walk.
Several local pubs are great for a drink, or meal - from honest pub grub to more adventurous eating including:
Harp Inn at Old Radnor (13 miles) - Excellent food, real ‘pub’ atmosphere, and superb views. (a favourite with us)
the Lion Hotel, Llanbister (8.5 miles), A traditional country pub, with great atmosphere, and fantastic curries (the have contacts with India, and good supplies of the best spices!). Good family cuisine at affordable prices. Recommended.
The Severn Arms, Penybont (4 miles) - Old coaching inn, offering simple meals in pleasant surroundings. Garden slopes down to river Ithon.
Horse and Jockey, Knighton (10 miles) - Originally a 14th Century Coaching Inn, this old-world pub offers a good range of food, and good beer.
The Banc, Knighton (10 miles) 5 Broad St, Knighton LD7 1BW - this ex-bank eatery is new and not yet tested by us. Reports so far are very good. 01547 520009
The Stagg, Titley – (15 miles) Excellent food, a little pricey, but very popular.
Baron at Bucknell- (16 miles) – fine country inn, with good restaurant.
Cosy Corner Cafe and Restaurant, Builth Wells (17 miles). Highly praised for both its teas and cakes as well as excellent meals.
The Lion, Leintwardine (18 miles) - great riverside location. Great food and surroundings.
Jolly Frog, Leintwardine. (19 miles) - French cuisine and décor. Food Excellent.
The Riverside Inn, Aymestery (22 miles) – its title describes its location. Great food and good beer.
The Tower House Gallery, Knighton - Our favourite for an excellent range of coffees, teas, hot chocolate, light wholesome lunches and fascinating gifts and books.
The Herb Garden, Llandrindod Wells. Bright, friendly community-owned cafe offering freshly made, home-cooked food, hot drinks and snacks, locally sourced and fairly traded where possible, with a menu catering for a wide range of tastes including Vegetarian, Vegan and Gluten-free - fully licensed too.
Our two nearest towns are still reasonably well stocked with small independent shops including for meat and vegetables.
In Knighton, ‘The Old Garage’ at the top of the town, stocks produce from their own local market garden. Mick and Alice grow vegetables which are sold in their shop - along with a huge range of sustainably sourced products, including chocolate and alcohol! You can also order a vegetable box through their website.
Tom Pugh has recently relocated his butchers shop to the main street. Tom and his family are no strangers to butchery. He and his father Andrew look after their two shops, the other being in Bishops Castle. The meat is sourced from known farm locally , including Tom’s uncle Clive. The family recently won a Great Taste Award for their wonderful haggis.
Knighton offers a local food market every Saturday morning at the Community Centre.
In Llandrindod Wells, one independent butcher also remains. J. Williams in Temple Street also sources much of his meat directly from his own farm and others locally.
In the main street, Van’s Good Food shop offers a range of local and wholefoods, including organic vegetables.
Llandrindod has a ‘Country Market’ every Friday morning.