Of the four spa towns, LLANWRTYD WELLS, twenty miles northwest of Brecon, is the most appealing. This was where the Welsh – Dyfed farmers along with Nonconformist middle classes from Glamorgan – flocked to the great eisteddfodau (festivals of Welsh music, dance and poetry) in the valley of the River Irfon; today, it’s the Welsh capital of wacky events.
In town, Dolecoed Road winds for half a mile along the river to the Dolecoed Hotel, built near the spa’s original sulphurous spring. Although the distinctive aroma had been noted in the area for centuries, it was truly “discovered” in 1732 by the local priest, Theophilus Evans, who drank from an evil-smelling spring after seeing a rudely healthy frog pop out of it. The spring, named Ffynnon Drewllyd (Stinking Well), bubbles up amongst the dilapidated spa buildings a hundred yards behind the hotel.