Powys, bounded to the west by the Cambrian Mountains, the south by the Brecon Beacons, and with the Berwyn Mountains to the north, is a great place to go for those whose outdoor activities stretch beyond sitting in a beer garden - though if that's your aim then there are plenty about - why not take in the historic Brecon Castle Hotel from which you can see the mountains while enjoying the town.
And it's not just the mountains that Powys can offer the adventurous spirit. A break afloat on the Montgomery Canal gives you time to take the scenery in at a comfy pace. Or if you prefer to have the view race past in a blur, there is quad biking. If no view at all is required, then maybe the cave systems around Crickhowell are for you - if you are an experienced and equipped caver. Or try the fishing in the lakes and rivers of the county, some rightly famed for trout and pike fishing.
Centres like Dragon Adventure near Crickhowell offer caving among a variety of outdoor pursuits. The Bear Hotel in the town, or The Manor Hotel in the Brecon Beacons National Park outside it, are both in easy reach of the wild Welsh countryside. And there is a lot of that. With a population of about 130,000 spread around the largest county in Wales, Powys has plenty of empty outdoors, within which you can find hide-away B&Bs like Glangrwyney Court set in the majestic National Park.
At the top of the county by trout-filled waters created by Victorian ingenuity sits Lake Vyrnwy Hotel, surely one of the loveliest in Britain, though there are several who would contend the title elsewhere in the county: Gliffaes Country House Hotel near Crickhowell for one; Lake Country House and Spa in Llangammarch Wells for another.
If a country house hotel doesn't suit your needs - or pocket - there is plenty of self-catering accommodation in the area. Agencies like Brecon Beacons Holiday Cottages have a huge selection, and are bound to have something convenient for whatever outdoor pursuit you follow, or near a good pub if you want a rest.
Though Powys is very rural, there are some interesting towns to explore (and pronounce). Llandrindod Wells was a spa that boomed in Victorian times: the Glen Usk Hotel has the confident architecture typical of the place; the Highland Moors Guest House outside the town may well have one of the best vantage points for viewing the countryside anywhere in Powys; and there's Guidfa House, a Georgian structure that can look on the Victorian dwellings as newcomers.
Llanwrtyd Wells is another spa, which claims to be the smallest town in Britain, and whose other claim to fame is as the venue for the World Bog Snorkelling Championships, one outdoor pursuit most will prefer to give a miss. Cerdyn Villa here is a suitably small B&B, with just two guest bedrooms; or there's Ty Carreg, a B&B where your breakfast egg comes from the owners' own chickens.
Llanfair Caereinion is far smaller, but with its own narrow-gauge railway that runs to Welshpool, a bustling market town with the medieval Powis Castle nearby: a bit younger but still 17th century is the Lion Hotel here; and the Royal Oak Hotel in the town is pretty ancient itself, once a manor house.
From braving mountains in Brecon to browsing books in Hay-on-Wye, crawling through caves in Crickhowell to curling up in country house hotels, Powys has a huge variety to offer the traveller, and with such a central position in Britain it is within a reasonable drive for most of us.
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Starry Starry Night, Look You – Dark Skies Tourism, South Wales | Mills and Hills in Central Lancashire, Lancashire | Get Fit on the North York Moors, North Yorkshire | A West Country Christmas – Dorset in December, Dorset | Nottinghamshire – Rural and Urban, Nottinghamshire | The Test Valley, Hampshire | Ashdown Forest, Sussex | The Rugged Northumberland Coast , Northumberland | The Resorts of North Devon, Devon | The Queen's London, London | Denbighshire , North Wales | York and Its Surrounds, North Yorkshire | The High Weald of Kent, Kent | Leisure, Luxury and Retail Heaven in Leeds , West Yorkshire | Rejuvenate Yourself in Rejuvenated Belfast , Belfast | Seasonal Fun in Brum, West Midlands | Autumn in the Southern Chilterns, Buckinghamshire | Cheshire Peaks and Plains, Cheshire | Essex’s Colne Valley, Essex | Cardigan Bay, West Wales | South Wales Valleys, South Wales | Highland Perthshire, Perthshire | South Downs National Park, Sussex | Royal Wedding London, London | Vale of Belvoir, Leicestershire | The Oxfordshire Cotswolds, Oxfordshire | Huntingdonshire, Cambridgeshire | Edinburgh at Christmas, Edinburgh and the Lothians | Marvellous Manchester, Greater Manchester | The National Forest, Derbyshire | East Lothian, Edinburgh and the Lothians | Regency Brighton and Hove, Sussex | Isle of Purbeck, Dorset | The Somerset Levels, Somerset | Llandudno, North Wales | Hereford, Herefordshire | Cheltenham, Gloucestershire | Bristol, the Great West City, Bristol | Weardale, County Durham | Festive London, London | Islay, Isle of Islay | Blackpool and the Lancashire Coast, Lancashire | The Vale of Evesham, Worcestershire | Land of the Prince Bishops, County Durham | The North Cornwall Coast, Cornwall | Torbay, Devon | Dumfries & Galloway, Dumfries and Galloway | West Highland Way, Argyll | Caithness and Sutherland, Highlands | Harrogate & its Surrounds, North Yorkshire | Sheffield, South Yorkshire
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