Read our latest Review of Lon Lodges from the Greentraveller Lucy Symons who visited us recently and was warmly welcomed and shown what a fabulous holiday you can have relaxing in your Lodges and enjoying everything this area has to offer. You can’t beat it anywhere!
Lucy Symons samples some real Welsh hospitality and partakes of a calm, peaceful break in this gorgeous, little-known area, celebrating pastoral splendour and natural local beauty
Near Rhayader, in the wide open fields of Radnorshire, you will find two bespoke lodges, designed by an architect member of Stephen and Kerena’s family, the ground broken by a member who is handy with a backhoe, totally locally sourced and built. The family have lived on the land since 1945 and are thoroughly good eggs, involved on every level in the community. They farm the land and run the lodges and volunteer to help keep their local area running. You get the sense that these are people who have a keen appreciation and awareness of their landscape, the surrounding wildlife and who practise responsible husbandry.
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The self-catering lodges each sleep six, in two doubles and a twin room. There’s a shared family bathroom with a separate loo and a huge open plan kitchen/dining/sitting area with patio doors opening on to the private gardens. The noisy bit of the farm is far away, and even though the lodges are next to each other, there is a thoughtful amount of privacy. The lodges are both cleverly thought out, using the peak of the roof as central to the living area with the bedrooms tucked under the eaves on either side, giving the main room a fabulous airy feel whilst the bedrooms feel cosy and private. The french doors looking out over the fields all open right up so you can invite the outdoors in, with a double fence between you and the sheep. However, on a cold or possibly damp day or even in the snow, you are snug and warm with efficient underfloor heating and an amazing amount of insulation.
The family has a stall selling fresh fruit and veg in season, and set it out near the lodges so if you arrive feeling peckish, you can fill your boots with local victuals. Kerena leaves a basket on the kitchen table with a bottle of local Welsh wine and Welsh cakes to welcome you and although self-catering, the kitchen is stocked with fresh milk and Welsh brew tea and coffee. There is a local pub within two miles and the town, filled with recommended pubs and restaurants serving fresh home cooked food, is accessible via pathways so you don’t need to be brave walking on the narrow country roads if you travel by public transport.
On the walls of the lodges are many maps; hand drawn by a local illustrator, they show you exactly where to walk on the farmland – routes that follow the river Dulas and tour around the site of a Roman marching camp, past a badger sett or the site of an Iron Age fort. Pride in their local environment and pride in their heritage is evident, as Kerena tells me that Roman treasure, torques and other jewellery was found here in the 1880s and is now housed in the British Museum. There is a Welsh dictionary and a handy card with common phrases so you can test your knowledge or perhaps brush up on your Welsh whilst you are here. Nearby Rhayader has a museum, Carad, where you can listen to oral histories and explore a record of the community as it has changed over the years. In the lodges there are binoculars and a logbook for you to make a note of any wildlife you happen upon as you wander the fields and streams. There’s a wonderful local chap who runs fungi forays if you are so inclined. Also, not far away is the Gigrin Farm feeding station for red kites and the Gilfach Nature Reserve with guided trails and many first class spots to cast your line if you fancy fishing – keep your wits about, though, as here they host the Commonwealth Fly Fishing Championships, so you may be casting your line next to a real expert.
History buffs will enjoy the fact that the Dambusters had their bouncing bomb practices here in the outstandingly beautiful Elan Valley, with its manmade Victorian dams and reservoirs that gravity feeds water to Birmingham – it’s one of the most well loved places in the country. Less than four miles from the farm is Rhayader where you can rent bikes and pedal off on any number of dedicated cycle routes including along the disused railway lines in the Elan valley. There is a shed at the Lodges for you to store your bike. The area is well known for pony trekking and there are events calendars available for you to see what the local area has to offer whenever you are there – perhaps a dog show (second to Crufts) or the Royal Welsh Show, the Bog Snorkelling World Championships or The Hay-on-Wye book festival. All distances here may occasionally look daunting, but are actually pretty easy because the roads are all so quiet and perfect for cycling.
The lodges were designed and built to be as sustainable as possible. The whole family were involved in the architecture and construction, using local sustainable Douglas fir trees, cut at the local saw mill, for cladding. There are electrical charging points for vehicles. The family are keen to share their Environmental Charter they have provided in the lodges, for their guests, if you wish to experience a “greener” holiday.
How to get here by public transport
Stephen and Kerena are willing to collect you at the rail station at Llandrindod Wells or bus station in Rhayader if you ask them nicely. You can rent bikes or bring your own and lock them in the shed at your lodge. There are even electric bikes available to hire if you are worried about the hills.
This is a fully accessible lodge – perfect for a family of three generations. Ramps mean pushchairs or wheelchairs are easily manoeuvred, and a travel cot and high chair are supplied so you needn’t drag one with you. Fido is welcome and will have a ball watching the sheep through the double fence. Recently nominated for “dark skies status” and awaiting confirmation of the award, you can spend time sitting in the hot tub with nothing but lambs for company, gazing up into the perfectly clear night skies.
If your family wants a spot of real Welsh hospitality, this is the place for you. Small enough to make everything personal, Kerena and Stephen and the rest of the Pugh family will welcome you in, sharing with you their pride in their roots and the local history. Granny does the washing, Uncle Robert and Auntie Rebecah provides the veggies and the sheep provide the pastoral ambience. The countryside is just spectacular and the stargazing from the hot tub irresistible. This is a perfect spot to make a local connections and to base yourself for a calm and peaceful break or a hub from which to visit this gorgeous, little known area and celebrate the local resources and natural beauty.