Machynlleth is a small market town with a population of some 2,000. It stands at the head of the beautiful Dyfi estuary in Powys, Mid Wales. When Machynlleth is mentioned one thinks of "alternative,” "ageing hippies", "rain" and "Welsh.” An unusual mix but it seems to work and as a holiday destination Machynlleth has a lot going for it. You will find sellers of arts and crafts, demonstrations of renewable energy sources, mountain bike trails, beautiful scenery, and Welsh history. All in one small Welsh town.
For such a small town it has a lot of history - its claims to fame being the location of the coronation of the Welsh rebel Owain Glyndwr as Prince of Wales in 1404, and for the parliament that followed. There are several historic buildings in the town including the medieval town house known as "The Parliament House" in Maengwyn Street, which now houses an interpretive centre dealing with Owain Glyndwr. Another is "Royal House" located at the junction of Garsiwn Lane and Penrallt Street, possibly built in the 1300's and where Charles I is reputed to have stayed in 1644.
Machynlleth is probably best known as the "town with the clock,” indeed the town clock must be the first impression made by visitors to the town. Machynlleth Town Clock was built by the townspeople in the 1870's and is the hub of the town, from which the three main streets radiate.
Maengwyn Street, (leads East to Welshpool and Newtown), is the main street that holds the famous Wednesday Markets. The Wednesday street market attracts many people from afar with its great variety of traders and craftsmen. A charter granted in 1291 by Edward 1 gave the right to hold "a market at Machynlleth every Wednesday for ever and two fairs every year.” The town also boasts a wide selection of independent shops, so very different from the usual collection of national retail chains found in most towns. They include a butchers, a greengrocers, vegetarian / whole foods store, jewellers with fine Celtic offerings, several cafes, takeaways and public houses (pubs), an art gallery, and an alternative therapy practitioner. Continue up Maengwyn Street and you come to Parliament House and the Tourist Information Centre.
Penrallt Street (leading North to Dolgellau) includes the Royal House (see above), the Tabernacle Arts Centre, shops selling goods from locally-produced meat to ironmongers, and continues on toward the Railway Station, the River Dyfi, and Dyfi Bridge.
Pentrerhedyn Street (leading South towards Aberystwyth) takes you to Plas Machynlleth in the parkland that fringes the town, and until recently hosted the now defunct Celtica Centre. You will also find the rather strange looking Smithy of 1896 in Pentrehedyn Street. It looks to me like they have used the elaborate brickwork from a tunnel entrance to form the entrance to a ...shed!
The Glyndwr Festival, celebrating the life of one of Wales' most famous sons, takes place in the first week in September.
The Machynlleth Festival takes place in the auditorium in The Tabernacle late August every year. During the week, eminent performers take part in events ranging from recitals for children to jazz.
Walks, Cycle Trails and Other Activities
Machynlleth boasts several of the best Mountain Bike Trails in Wales. Fantastic mountain bike routes for all abilities right from the town centre of Machynlleth and purpose built single track in the Dyfi forest to the North. Local mountain bikers and business people formed a community group known as Dyfi Mountain Biking, who aimed to publicise the great mountain biking in the area and boost tourist income. The group successfully fundraised to waymark the Mach 1, 2 and 3 routes on rights of way around Machynlleth, and then to build trails in the Dyfi forest. Mach 1 route : 16km (approx. 10 miles), gives you a taste of what is on offer and takes you South West out of Machynlleth, to the village of Derwenlas, returning via the Llyfnant Valley . There is a steep descent on the return route to Machynlleth. This trail is suitable for novices, allow between 1.5 to 2 hours. Mach 2 Trail This route, 24km (approx. 15 miles) takes you South East out of the town along the river Dulas and Glyndwr's Way, named after the Welsh leader Owain Glyndwr who led the Welsh rebellion in the C15th.
Although the area is renowned for the Bike Trails walkers are also well catered for in Machynlleth with walks both within the Dovey Valley and on the surrounding hillsides. The local walks are complemented by the Glyndwr Way National Trail.
The Tabernacle: The Tabernacle Arts Centre is a neo-classical Methodist chapel that together with adjacent buildings forms a cultural centre - The Tabernacle. It is home to the Museum of Modern Art Wales, houses a permanent art collection, and hosts a sequence of exhibitions. The restored, galleried chapel functions as a performance space, with the original pews for seating.
Parliament House: The medieval town house known as "The Parliament House” is found in Maengwyn Street. It houses an interpretive centre dealing with Owain Glyndwr and the Welsh Rebellion of the early 15th century.
Dyfi Valley Drive: Cross the River Dyfi and head west for a delightful ten mile drive down the beautiful Dyfi estuary through Pennal to Aberdyfi. Here you can get your feet wet paddling in the Irish Sea or walk on the huge expanse of golden sands. Take boat trips around the estuary or try your hand at fishing for sea Bass.
Tal-y-Llyn Railway: Drive a few more miles to Tywyn and catch the Tal-y-Llyn Railway near to Tal y Llyn (Lake), surely one of the most beautiful lakes in Wales.
Clywedog Reservoir: Head east to the Clywedog reservoir for sailing, fishing, wildlife and beautiful scenery.
Snowdonia National Park: Venture further north and all the delights of the Snowdonia National Park await your pleasure.
Vale of Rheidol Railway: Drive south from Machynlleth to Aberystwyth, a traditional seaside resort and University town. Another great little train of Wales awaits you here, with a journey to the dramatic Devil's Bridge gorge, high up the Vale of Rheidol.
Accommodation and Services
Accommodation: There are hotels, guesthouses and self catering accommodation in the area.
Food and Drink: There are a number of hotels/restaurants/pubs and an Indian restaurant in Penrallt Street. In the daytime, you have a choice of cafes in Maengwyn Street, including a vegetarian restaurant. All of which serve hot food.
Travel: Machynlleth is favoured with a station on the Cambrian Railway Line. The railway enables travellers from the midlands of England to travel to Machynlleth via Shrewsbury. The Cambrian Coast Railway Line enables travel to and from the West and South of Wales.
The road bridge over the River Dyfi is a gateway northwards into the southern reaches of the Snowdonia National Park (Eryri), and there are alternative roads to both south Wales and the Midlands of England available.