Llanwrtyd Wells, Powys, Wales, UK Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Llanwrtyd Wells, Powys, Wales, UK

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Llanwrtyd Wells1 is situated in Mid Wales in the county of Powys. It's about 50 miles north of Swansea, and is a major destination on the scenic Heart of Wales railway. It is on a line of natural springs that runs up from South Wales, hence the Wells part of the name. The water from the wells tastes foul, imagine the taste of sulphur and chalk.

It is considered to be the smallest town in the UK. Indeed, driving through one gets the impression of a single street with several pubs/hotels clustered around a very small town square.

The Welsh Hymn 'Guide me O Thou Great Jehovah' was composed here, as was the Llanelli Rugby Club anthem 'Sosban Fach'2.

Food-wise, there is of course the ubiquitous chip shop, but all of the hotels do good food. There is the added advantage of real ale being served in most drinking places. Beers include Brains SA and Felinfoel Double Dragon.

Llanwrtyd Wells is a popular jumping off place for tourists who want to explore the Welsh countryside, either on foot, horse, bicycle, or even by car. There are also several annual events held in and around the town. The pubs/hotels around the square host two Real-Ale festivals during the year, each lasting for several days.

The town has two major sporting events that attract international attention:

The Man versus Horse Marathon in June sees about 300 runners pitting their stamina against 20 horses on a 22-mile circuit of the Welsh mountains. Runners get a 15-minute head start on their equine opponents and the aim is to stay ahead. Until 2000, no runner had won, but it was always a close run race. The horses do less well on some of the rocky terrain, and a super-fit runner who is prepared to risk life and limb could probably claim the £21,000 prize.

The first ever human winner was a Royal Marine in 2000 who had trained specifically for the race. The race is now named in honour of the late Screaming Lord Sutch, a UK eccentric, who had started the race for several years.

In August there is the bizarre Bog Snorkeling World Championships. Competitors have to swim two lengths of a 60-metre trench cut into a peat bog, underwater. It has been described as like trying to swim through treacle.

1Pronunciation is difficult, but Clan-oo-er-tid will just about do until you can ask an inhabitant how to properly say it.2To hear grown men singing this with tears in their eyes after a triumphant rugby season can bring a lump to one's throat, until you consider that the words mean 'Little saucepan, standing by the fire, big saucepan, standing on the floor, and the cat has scratched little Johnnie'.

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