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LLANWRTYD WELLS developed in the eighteenth-centruy spa boom, and was the spa to which the Welsh – farmers of Dyfed alongside the Nonconformist middle classes from Glamorgan – came to the great eisteddfodau (festivals of Welsh music, dance and poetry) in the valley of the River Irfon. Nowadays, it trades as Britain's smallest town and is the undisputed Welsh capital of wacky events – from the world bog-snorkelling championships to a Man versus Horse race and numerous biking/walking/beer-drinking combination weekends. For more information see Web: www.green-events.co.uk .
Main Street runs through the centre of town, crossing the Irfon River just below the main square, Y Sgwar, dominated by a stunning sculpture of a red kite. On the opposite side of Main Street, Dolecoed Road winds for half a mile along the river to the Dolecoed Hotel, built near the original sulphurous spring. Although the distinctive aroma had been noted in the area for centuries, it was truly "discovered" in 1732 by the local priest, Theophilus Evans, who drank from an evil-smelling spring after seeing a rudely healthy frog pop out of it. The spring, named Ffynnon Drewllyd (Stinking Well), bubbles up amongst the dilapidated spa buildings a hundred yards behind the hotel.
Accommodation includes the lively Neuadd Arms on the main square (Tel:01591/610236, Web: www.neuaddarmshotel.co.uk ; Price: £50), which also does good bar food; the lovely Carlton House (Tel:01591/610248, Web: www.carltonrestaurant.co.uk ; Price: £50), yards away on Dolecoed Road, with cheaper rooms (including two bargain singles) across the street at its brasserie; and the fairly grand Lasswade on Station Road (Tel:01591/610515, Web: www.lasswadehotel.co.uk ; Price: £70). The marvellous Drover's Restrestaurant by the river bridge (Tel:01591/610264, Web: www.food-food-food.co.uk ; Price: £50) serves wholesome, traditional Welsh dishes and snacks, and has some classy, cosy B&B accommodation. Finally, the AStonecroft Inn on Dolecoed Road (Tel:01591/610332, Web: www.stonecroft.co.uk ) is a superb pub with great food and regular live folk, R&B and rock music as well as beds (£13.50) in a small, self-catering hostel annexe.