Known for its stellar setting on the doorstep of the Elan Valley, this is where the moorland gets splashed with long lakes and outdoor adventure.
Rhayader has long been a fine place to pause on a trip across the Welsh moors—once for monks travelling between the area's abbeys, later for outlaws, and today for adventure-loving campers. The snaking Elan Valley Lakes west of town are main attractions, but Rhayader also sits alongside Britain's greatest wilderness south of Highland Scotland. In this area, you'll find Teifi Pools and the high point of the Cambrian Mountains, Pen Pumlumon Fawr. Both have spots to pitch up amid rugged scenery. Or stay lower down, enjoying the sinuous beauty of the River Wye and its hiking trail, the Wye Valley Path.
Elan Village is at the beginning of the Elan Valley as you ascend from Rhayader and reach Caban Coch, the first of six dams creating the five vast reservoirs stretching away from here. One of the area's best campsites is just before the visitor centre, where deep valleys and lakes divide the bald hills. Fantastic hiking and biking trails thread it all together.
This rarely trodden upland west of Elan Valley is a series of small, spectacular natural lakes—together they form the source of the Teifi, the longest river in Wales. Below in the valley is one of Wales' loveliest ruined abbeys, Strata Florida, alongside the extensive Teifi Forest. In this remote country, you can camp in a bothy, a rudimentary shelter accessible only on foot, or on its grounds.
The highest point of the Cambrian Mountains (the spine of all Mid Wales) is at Pen Pumlumon Fawr. Many of the region's wildest hills and moors can be found here, where the nearest campsites are around Ponterwyd. Even still, tenters often wild camp high on the lonely slopes.
Rhayader is the first town on the winsome River Wye and near the start of the 136-mile Wye Valley Path, which traces the river from source to near the mouth. Campsites tend to occupy some of the flattest, greenest, and most sheltered ground around.
Easter through September is the busiest time for Rhayader camping. Outside of this season, many campsites and tourist facilities are closed due to the brunt of the year's bad weather. For the best weather and the fewest visitors, try pitching a tent in early spring or late summer. Even the warmest days rarely pass 20°C (68°F), while rain, strong winds, and below-freezing temperatures can arrive any time.