Mid Wales

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Mid Wales is probably the most remote part of Wales. It is quite distant to the major cities of Swansea, Cardiff and in England, Birmingham. Its nearest main centre outside Wales is Shrewsbury. Within Mid Wales it is dominated by one town, a seaside resort and academic centre.

Aberystwyth is the main centre of Mid Wales. It is a popular tourist destination noted for its castle, cliff railway and The Vale of Rheidol narrow gauge steam railway. During the summer season, it is possible to transfer from the standard gauge Cambrian Coast Railway onto the narrow gauge line into Devil's Bridge. Before 1989, it was British Rail's last operational steam railway with steam engines in the BR Rail Blue livery. The Aberystwyth Cliff Railway ferries passengers up Constitution Hill, where the summit is marked by a café and a camera obscura. As well as having its own university, Aberystwyth is home to the National Library of Wales.

Further up, where Ceredigion meets Gwynedd, is Machynlleth. The town was back in 1404, the seat of Owain Glyndwr's Welsh Parliament and claimed to be 'the ancient capital of Wales'. It has an annual comedy festival and weekly markets selling Spanish, French and Welsh food. It is also home to The Wales Museum of Modern Art and - just outside the town - the Centre for Alternative Technology. Exhibits include a low energy house, a site-wide electricity grid using renewable energy, and a hydraulic ram pump. If you're looking for an ecologically sound conference venue, this is the place.

Along the A487 is Cardigan, the town which gives the name to its bay. The first competitive Eisteddfod took place there in 1176, in the town's castle. A few miles east is Lampeter, the smallest university town in the United Kingdom. The University of Wales, Trinity Saint David, has one of its four campuses there, with the other three in Carmarthen, Swansea and London. All four campuses are also conference venues.

On the banks of the River Wye are the towns of Builth Wells and Llandrindod Wells. The first town is known for its castle, built under King Edward I, marked only by a mound and ditches. The second town expanded at the height of the railway age as a spa town. Each May, Llandrindod Wells plays host to an amateur drama festival. Close by is the town of Rhayader, which is a Transition Town where members of the community move towards ecologically sustainable lifestyles.

In the northern part of Mid Wales is Newtown, established in 1967 as one of two New Towns in Wales. It was originally known as 'Llanfair-yng-Nghedewain' and best known as the birthplace of Robert Owen, one of the founders of the cooperative movement.

For a scenic option, Mid Wales makes for a suitable conference venue. Especially Aberystwyth and Newtown which is served by daily rail services along the Cambrian Coast railway line.