Adults-only, back-to-basics camping in the wilds of Mid-Wales, close to fantastic hiking trails, mountain-biking and swimming
When the famous children’s author Beatrice Potter visited Machynlleth in 1888 she described the countryside as ‘most beautiful, but on rather a large scale for 'getting about’’. Little has changed. To make the most of pottering (no pun intended) between this wonderful market town, the looming Cader Idris mountain, the various tourist centres and the beaches to the west, you really do need a set of motorised wheels. So if you’re intending to pack in plenty of activity during a visit, your trusty feet and bicycles alone won’t do, unless you’re in training for the Olympics. It’s a super-steep mile-long climb to Gwalia from the main A road. If horse-riding and swimming are your things, you will find riding lessons all over Wales. Swimmers have sandy beaches just an hour’s drive away and also at an indoor leisure centre in Machynlleth itself. Also, in the campsite’s grounds there’s a pond, complete with its own little pier to jump off.
Get plotted at one of the country’s most primitive campsites in remote countryside, then do nothing and see no-one bar your neighbours until it’s time to go home. This campsite ticks very few of the boxes that many modern-day campers consider vital to a comfortable stay. There are no cooking facilities, amusements, refreshments, nightlights (it’s darker than dark here at night) and no shower onsite, though you can pay £1 to use the one in the house shared with B&B guests. What you do have are a couple of flat fields with pitches on the outskirts of an expanse of rushes and a couple of kayaks and a canoe you can use free of charge on the medium-sized pond. Life here is simple; distractions are nonexistent.
Since coming here in 1979 the owners have learnt to be self-sufficient. They keep their own chickens in the front yard – camping children can join in feeding and egg-collecting and there are goats that might need hand-milking. Peace reigns more or less until early September, when baby tawny owls are kicked out of their nests and voice their concerns at suddenly being left to fend for themselves. Surrounded by trees, Gwalia is a blessing for anyone with strong hunterer-gatherer DNA. Campfires are permitted, stray pieces of wood can be picked up and used and the owners sell bundles. There’s usually only a handful of campers present at any one time and they are spread far enough apart so that all you’ll see of your neighbours are wafts of campfire smoke rising from the other side of the rushes.
Machynlleth, six miles away is well known for its vibrant Wednesday markets, held at the central Maengwyn Street, where you can pick up arts, crafts and edible, organic all-sorts. Do take bikes if you can, though, three cross-country mountain bike routes start in Machynlleth (Mach 1, 2 and 3), and there’s a purpose-built trail, the ‘cli-machx’, in the nearby Dyfi Forest.
Machynlleth, Powys, Wales, United KingdomTraditional, ancestral territory of various First Nations according to To respect the Host's privacy, the precise address of this land will be provided after booking
Hosted by Amy E.Joined in August 2015
From the host
Gwalia is a traditional small holding set in the peaceful hills of mid-Wales, near Machynlleth. It's an amazingly special place, loved by the owners and their many guests over the years. It's a family run, environmentally sensitive smallholding with an abundance of wildlife. Please note: Gwalia Farm is an ADULTS ONLY campsite. Cars are parked a minimum of 10m from the camping pitches, there is no vehicle access onto the campsite.
If the weather’s behaving erratically, why not get to the root of it all at the Centre for Alternative Technology down the road, which offer solutions to some of the most serious challenges facing the planet.
Food and drink
At the bottom of the hill, sitting on the A470, thePenrhos Arms (01650 511 243) is a gorgeous stone hotel that serves above-average pub grub at lunchtimes and between 6–9pm in the evenings.