The spa towns of Mid-Wales, strung out along the Heart of Wales rail line between Swansea and Shrewsbury, were once all obscure villages, but with the arrival of the great craze for spas in the early eighteenth century, anywhere with a decent supply of apparently healing water joined in on the act. Royalty and nobility spearheaded the fashion, but the arrival of the railways opened them to all. Today, best of the bunch is undoubtedly the westernmost spa of Llanwrtyd Wells, hunkered down beneath stunning mountain scenery and renowned for its bizarre events. Llandrindod Wells, the most famous spa, attracted the international elite in its Victorian heyday, and has two excellent museums to enjoy. In between, the larger town of Builth Wells was very much the spa of the Welsh working classes and there’s no real reason to stop, except in mid-July when it hosts the absorbing Royal Welsh Show, Britain’s biggest rural jamboree.

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