Friday, 29 January 2016

What does Llandrindod Wells have to offer?

There are many things to do, see and appreciate in Llandrindod Wells.

Here is a short snippet of just some of the facilities and services that are available to the community, residents and visitors of Llandrindod Wells...  
albert hall, arboretum, astro turf/all weather pitch, band stand, banks, builders merchants, bus routes, cafes, chalybeate springs, charity shops, churches, cobblers, countryside, county hall, cycle hire, dance centre, doctors, estate agents, fish and chips, football pitch, footpaths, garages, golf course, green spaces, gym, hills, hospital, hotels, indoor and outdoor bowling centres, jive classes, lake, leg club, market, national cycle museum, new town wifi, newsagents, niche shops, night club, nursing homes, opticians, pavilion, play groups, plumbers, post office, pubs, radnorshire museum, railway, restaurants, rock park, rolling hills, rugby pitch, running clubs, schools, signal box museum, slimming world, spa, sport centre, sports hall, supermarkets, taxis, tennis courts, tourist information, woodland, youth centre...

These numerous facilities are used in many different ways in Llandrindod Wells...

aikido, archery, art, athletics camps, badgers, badminton, ballet, bingo, birthday parties, bird watching, bouncy castle cadets, carnival, cricket, cubs, cycle fest, cycling, dancing, dog walking, education, entertainment, fishing, flicks in the sticks, football, golf, guides, gymnastics, hockey, indoor and outdoor bowls, jive, karate, kayaking, keep fit, konga, lions, martial arts, netball, orchestras, orienteering, photography, pilates, quiz nights, rainbows, rambling, rugby, running, scouts, shopping, silver band, snorkeling, steam punk, step aerobics, st john's, swimming, table tennis, tennis, theatre, unicycling, victorian festival, volunteering, walking, yoga, youth club, zumba...

I hope that through reading the list of just some of the many services that are available to the Llandrindod Wells community, I have encouraged you to realise that there are a lot of events happening here in #llandrindodlife. The town really does have so much to offer.

Only WE can make the town more successful. Only WE can make the town more significant in the eye of the Welsh nation and beyond. WE need to pull together as a community and acknowledge our responsibility to help put the town of Llandrindod Wells back on the map in the 21st Century. Together WE will build a stronger community.

I know that I am ready to do all I can within my power to achieve this. Now I ask you...are you? 
Together WE can!

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

So.... Where do you live?

This is a question that I am commonly asked when I am out and about running, training and competing around Britain and even abroad in Europe.

"Llandrindod Wells in Mid Wales, Powys," I reply. This frequently gets the usual blank face. It's very rare that anyone has ever heard of the town apart from an occasional one or two who recognise the name from driving through, or from their train journey along the Heart of Wales line. 

Looking back at the history of the town and the boom that it experienced during the Victorian times when I'm sure that the grand Victorian town of Llandrindod Wells would have been a name to cross everyone's lips throughout Wales, and even Britain; it struck me as odd that a town that experienced such success has now gone back into a town of little-known existence to people outside its area.

This may be a blessing in disguise as it means that us locals can get out and enjoy the area that we live in without disturbance from a large number of tourists. Nevertheless, it is clear that the local economy still relies heavily on tourism to make its money. Just look at the number of hotels in the town. I like to think that through my running adventures I am helping to put my hometown of Llandrindod Wells back on the map in the 21st Century. (My hometown is now well known in the worldwide mountain running community!) I believe that I am achieving this in many ways. 

1) On my social media accounts (Twitter, Instagram) from which I regularly post pictures of my hometown, I have followers from all over the world. This includes followers from Australia, Argentina, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Lebanon, Monaco, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine, United States and of course the United Kingdom. This means that I have a wide global reach and Llandrindod Wells becomes a town that is recognised by many people around the world.

2) I write my own blog about my adventures and experiences along my running journey. This like my social media accounts has a large global reach and along with the countries mentioned above has readers from Russia, Netherlands, Mexico, Portugal, Senegal and many more places.

3) Through Llandrindod Life, I aim to write creatively about my hometown by including posts about the community, local businesses, residents and local area. I hope that this blog will help people to appreciate the town and all the things that we are so lucky to have on our doorstep.

What does Llandrindod Wells mean to me?

I moved to Llandrindod Wells in 2008 with my family from the little village of Franksbridge just over the Rhogo. If I'm honest, before we moved to Llandrindod I didn't really like the idea of living in a town and imagined that I would hate it...but how wrong I was! Llandrindod has just the right amount of community bustle combined with a rural quietness that I have come to love.

Llandrinodod Wells to me is many things combined. I don't think that I can put my finger on one thing as a range of aspects make the town so special and unique. 

Llandrindod Wells is now a huge part of my life as it is the place where I discovered my love of running in my last year of Primary school. Since I have become heavily involved in the sport, the local area has provided me with a perfect training base to develop my running. The picturesque lake is a great place to do my speed work sessions and in the summer I'm able to use the grass track on the High School field. The rolling hills in the surrounding area are a perfect location for me to do my mountain running training and have enabled me to become competitive on the world stage. 

Llandrindod is truly in the heart of Wales from where you can reach all parts of the country. This is extremely useful to me as a runner who has to travel around the country frequently to different competitions. 

I remember learning about the magical Victorian history of Llandrindod in year 7 and it's always something that I have been interested in. I think that it is important to have a knowledge of the history of where you live and understand how times have changed.

The community of the town lives very close to nature and wildlife. The Lake and Rock Park both provide a haven for all sorts of wildlife and waking up to hear the birds singing is something that I treasure. I love running up through the wood at the back of the lake and onto the top of Little Hill behind the back of the golf course. On a clear day you can see for miles and miles and it's a wonderful sight. 

A running paradise
Llandrindod has a very strong sense of community and I'm very lucky to be able to experience this through running around the streets and local paths and trails as I hear many calls of "Hello", "Good morning", "Well done, keep going" etc. The friendly and happy community is only enhanced when you walk down the main streets and have a browse around the local unique shops. I believe that this community that we are part of can only enhance Llandrindod life and it's one of the many things that I love about my hometown. 

So, if I was put to the difficult task of summing up what Llandrindod meant to me, I'd use these words...
"Running paradise...wildlife haven...friendly trinity of Llandrindod Wells, my hometown..."
Now, I'd like to find out what Llandrindod Wells means to YOU. The people of the town, the community, businesses and residents for a future blog post. What do you like about the town? What do you think makes it unique? What makes it such a nice place to live? Is it the wildlife, community, shops, the surrounding countryside or something completely different? You can tell me your thoughts via the contact form to the left of this blog post or via Twitter. You can also email me directly. I'm looking forward to hearing your views on Llandrindod life. 
Llandrindod Wells – the future of the town is in our hands, I look forward to working with all of you in the local community to enhance #llandrindodlife

Saturday, 16 January 2016

A potted history of Llandrindod Wells....

Welcome to Llandrindod Wells!

Croseo i Landrindod!


Llandrindod Wells is the county town of Powys, located in Central Wales. 

An Old Victorian Spa Town

Llandod as it is known by the locals, was once a thriving Victorian Spa town with many people coming from far and wide in the 18th and 19th centuries to sample the "healing qualities" of the saline, sulfur and chalybeate spring waters. People would flock to the pump rooms at the Rock Park and Pump House Hotel in order to take the waters which were claimed to have several health benefits.
"It is a spa set in a garden. Nature has shot up its medicinal waters in a rustic glen, and the municipality has, with more than municipal wisdom, improved and cultivated the surroundings. I went to the pump-room in the park and tried a glass of Saline, which I thought pleasant and -just the sort of thing a doctor would offer when there is nothing seriously wrong with you." 
A travel writer's first impression of Llandrindod Wells taken from "In search of Wales" by H.V Morton 1932.
With the industrial resolution, the Heart of Wales railway line reached the spa town in 1865 meaning that it became possible for many more visitors to come and sample the mineral waters thereby boosting the spa towns income and reputation.
Llandrindod Wells lake was dug out of marshy ground near the Pump House Hotel in the early 1870's. Originally the lake was used as a boating lake and was an attraction to the many visitors coming to take the waters. Over the years the area around the lake became developed and more cafes and boat houses were built. 

An old advertisement for boat hire on the Llandrindod Wells lake.

The outbreak of the Great War of 1914-18 meant that visitors unfortunately stopped coming to the town of Llandrindod. In the 1920s and 1930s holidaymakers came again to the town but the fashion for taking the waters became a thing of the past with people preferring seaside holiday breaks. 
Llandrindod Wells became a quiet town and still remains an idyllic, peaceful location to date. 

The town still tells the story of the booming Victorian period that it had the joy of participating in, if only you know where to look.

In the 21st Century

  Llandrindod Wells Lake

Now in the 21st Century, the lake is a popular attraction to visitors with an abundance of wildlife including ducks, geese, and swans. In the last few years, otters have been spotted at the lake and just recently a very rare bittern has been spotted amongst the reeds. The island in the middle of the lake provides an undisturbed habitat for birds, insects and other wildlife. The lake is a haven for wildlife demonstrating that its boating days in the Victorian Era are far in its past. 
The Lakeside Café and gift shop are popular especially in the Summer months when children who have been playing on the park close by require an ice cream or when walkers exploring the surrounding countryside wish for a cup of tea!

The Victorian Boating Lake
Llandrindod Lake in the present day is a
haven for wildlife

A rare bittern spotted at Llandrindod Lake. 
(Photo Courtesy of Kevin Joynes)

Rock Park and Spa

Llandrindod's Rock Park and Spa is one of the earliest public parks in Wales dating from the Victorian Era when the arrival of the railway and the enclosure of common land led to the development of Llandrindod as a flourishing spa town.
The Rock Park Pump room that is still present was built around 1867 to form a base so that people could come to take the waters from the various springs around the park. In the present day, one chalybeate spring is still available to drink from a marble drinking fountain in the park.
A Victorian wood occupies the northern part of the park with native woodland to the West along the banks of the River Ithon. A network of paths connect the different areas and bridges cross the Arlais Brook, which runs through on a south-west diagonal to join the river. At the south-west end of the park a natural rock outcrop above the river, known as Lover’s Leap, provides a viewing point onto the river. 

Winter sunshine filtering through the trees at Rock Park
In the present day, Rock Park has the original Spa Buildings and also an outdoor bowling green. The Rock Park Coffee House and Tea room is open during the Spring and Summer months and the Rock Park is now also host to a health centre. The park is used mainly by dog-walkers and runners and provides a sanctuary for wildlife in the spa town. 
The Victorian Rock Park Hotel which hosted guests that came to sample the waters

The entrance to Rock Park and Spa


If you find yourself walking around the streets of Llandrindod Wells, it is extremely obvious that the town experienced a boom in the Victorian Era just because of the sheer number of Victorian buildings that remain in the town. The grand architecture that is a very prominent feature of Llandrindod Life can help the community of the town imagine what the town was like in the Victorian Era even if we cannot experience it ourselves.


The National Cycle Museum

One of Llandrindod Wells' most notable features today is the UK National Cycle Museum. It is one of the leading cycle museums in the world. The museum was officially opened on 21st March 1997 by Tom Norton and has taken on the form of a charitable trust that relies on donations and entrance fees to maintain income and provide a service for the cycling enthusiasts of Great Britain and beyond. 
Some of the bikes on show at the National Cycle Museum
This is just an overview of some of the attractions that the town of Llandrindod includes. Look out for future blog posts that will go into further detail of life in Llandrindod in the present day! 

A beautiful sunrise over Llandrindod Wells
Llandrindod Wells – the future of the town is in our hands, I look forward to working with all of you in the local community to enhance #llandrindodlife

Thursday, 14 January 2016

A Vision For The Town Of Llandrindod Wells

Who am I?

My name is Heidi Davies and I am currently busy studying at Llandrindod High School for my final A Level exams which I will take in June 2016. I am an international athlete and have competed for Wales on numerous occasions and I have also represented Great Britain on three occasions; the pinnacle of this finishing fifth at the World Mountain Running Championships in 2015 at Betws-y-Coed in North Wales and leading the team to a team silver medal in the process.

Why Llandrindod Wells?

I have lived in Wales since I was three and have been living in Llandrindod Wells since 2008. Llandrindod is for me my hometown. Soon after moving here I discovered running and as they say the rest is history. I can't imagine my life without running now. Many young athletes leave their hometown to head off to University or the bright lights of America to further their running career. However, I am different and I have decided that staying in Llandrindod Wells is the best way for me to fulfill my long term running ambitions of being an elite runner….but how am I going to support these ambitions?

What do I plan to do?

In order to balance the needs of earning an income with my training to fulfill my ambitions I need the flexibility of being self employed. I have been brought up to give back to those who have given something to me. Llandrindod Wells has brought me international representation for both Wales and Great Britain and I love the town and surrounding countryside. I think that it is time for me to start repaying my hometown.

Short term plans

In the short term I am looking for individuals and businesses willing to help support me to develop my running ambitions while I start the process of giving back to the town.

1. Llandrindod Life

I have enjoyed writing creatively from a young age and recently I have developed this by starting my own blog, about my running experiences.

I am launching a local blog entitled “Llandrindod Life” to promote the town and to support the local community by enhancing social relationships and people’s knowledge of local businesses and events within the town. Writing creatively about life in Llandrindod will be the main focus of the blog. During 2016 I will start to include a weekly post focused on promoting a local business or service. I do not want to charge for this however, I would appreciate donations to enable me to further my running ambitions; the key here is flexibility and I would be happy to help out local businesses in return for example by making some of my time available to them.
If you are an individual, local business or service and wish to be featured on the blog please get in touch. Equally if you are organising a local event or run a regular event in Llandrindod, please let me know about it.

2. Together We Run

I know there are a lot of runners in the community. It is great to see local club runners out training and I have been really lucky to be asked to get involved with the “Just Move, Walk to Run” group as an Ambassador. I train every day and do a lot of running locally with my brother and my Dad (my mentor and coach with a list of roles as long as his arm!)

From the summer I will start to share my running knowledge with the local community by offering people within the town help with their running through one off training sessions, social long runs, strength and conditioning workshops, running warm ups and specific training sessions etc. Some of these sessions and runs will be entirely free, however donations towards my running career will be gracefully and gratefully accepted! Others will be formally structured and will carry a small charge.

Look out for information in the local area containing the details of these sessions. You don't have to be a runner to attend, I would love to see as many people getting involved as possible!

Long term vision

I fully intend to be a successful elite athlete who remains based in Llandrindod Wells and as this develops I intend to invest in the town. I would like to help develop the town as a running centre with running infrastructure and maybe one day even an athletics track. The list of things I want to see happening is almost endless and includes: running events, running weekends and workshops, a running shop, dedicated running trails, a running drop in centre, a development academy for future athletes, a local Parkrun….

Llandrindod Wells – the future of the town is in our hands, I look forward to working with all of you in the local community to enhance #llandrindodlife