weird and wonderful, Llanwrtyd Wells….
Llanwrtyd Wells. So what? Well, it’s not exactly ‘normal’ .
Our Town council may prefer to talk about it in terms of its heritage and history of the Methodist Church and it’s links to John Wesley and the sulphur wells and certainly these are historically significant to the very existence of this community. As are farming and tourism. But they’re hardly unique.
Anyone who has ever spent any time working within either sales or marketing or ever been on any form of business development course knows the acronym USP and know it stands for Unique Selling Point.
To be fair most business have to take something that’s not particularly unique and use another business word (particularly reviled and used extensively in politics), the word ‘spin’. Advertisers spin a statistic, fact or statement (that really says nothing if analysed too closely) and spew it out as a tag-line, marketing phrase or piece of BS to make their product seem more that it really is. It may or may not work.
Llanwrtyd has several of those:
“UKs Smallest Town” – Says who? So what? What makes a town rather than a village or hamlet? It’s an interesting fact but hey, several oher villages claim to be towns …blah blah blah.
“Largest expanse of unspoilt countryside” – true as far as I can tell but its a tag-line isn’t it. I mean there’s the Lake District, The Peak District, The Brecon Beacons (which we add onto our expanse). It’s just our way of describing how unbelievably peaceful, beautiful and expansive our local landscape is. And it truly is. i completely recommend visiting to explore it.
“The place in the UK where LDWA” began (that would be the Long Distance Walking Association), Again, interesting fact. As is the place where mountain biking in the UK began. Again great fact (rumour?). And we do have tremendous walking and cycling opportunities here. Especially if you don’t want to see another soul, building, road, car, telegraph pole. You can walk or cycle all day and not see anything but nature. It is truly astounding.
“The birth of wellbeing waters ” -Rev Theophilus Evans, then vicar of Llangammarch Wells. suffered from scurvy and whilst walking through local parkland, saw an extremely healthy looking frog in the well. Supposing that, despite its foul smell, the water in the well might have helped the frog, he decided to take the water himself, and his scurvy was cured resulting in the heydays of the town as a Victorian Spa Town and the building of many grand houses , hotels and shops to serve the huge number of visitors. These days its true you can just about find evidence of the springs. most of the hotels aren’t any more and many of the grand house are now flats; but there were three wells. One was burnt down and is marked with a plaque; one apparently has a very interesting array of underground tunnels but is on private land and not accessible; another has a CADW glass viewing box surrounding the well and, if you know where to look you can find in and even taste the sulphur waters. It’s even on a public walking route, but it’s not signposted and you’d need local knowledge to find it. Again its great but its far from unique and so many places in the UK do it so much better; take Bath for an example or Cheltenham.
However Llanwrtyd Wells is very very very lucky, it genuinely does have a USP. It’s a USP that the media go mad for but the powers that be seem slightly embarrassed about and hide under their bushel. It’s a USP that should be plastered on every sign, site, promotional bit of literature and mentioned in every tourism meeting at every opportunity. It has generated and continues to generate unbelievably large numbers of column inches and media reporting; attracts press and film crews from around the world and is used by the Welsh Assembly to help promote Wales to the world… you may have seen it whilst travelling on British Airways or whilst unable to sleep and having switched on Transworld Sport, or the BBC ident.
You may not be able to recognise or remember, or even have time to read the word “Llanwrtyd” should it pop up on your TV screen or flash by as you whip along the A483 (blink and you have both entered and exited our little town, after all it is the smallest in the UK); but I bet you a pound (dollar) whatever, that there will be a spark of recognition or interest if I say the words “Bog Snorkelling” or “Man v Horse” or “Mountain Bike Chariot Racing” or “Real Ale Wobble” or, more latterly “World Alternative Games”. I bet one of those would make you do a Google search. (btw, there are other web browsers available 😉 )
We, as the smallest town in the UK, the home of LDWA and mountain biking in the UK; the foundation of wellness with a rich history built around natural springs, farming, pony trekking and exquisite landscape; we truly do have the best, and are the only ones in the world who can take credit for being the “Home of Bog Snorkelling”.
That’s why we B&B-ers and Guesthouse owners shout it from the rooftops; why the community rallies volunteers to deliver our amazing calendar of interesting, quirky, eccentric events year after year after year; why the Welsh Assembly loves us; why foreigners know of us.
If only we had a sign……. (why has no-one ever suggested this oh the irony!)
But until then you will have to make do with me, and them; photographing it, writing about it, and declaring to the world that we, Llanwrtyd Wells, are The Home of Bog Snorkelling; the inventors of Man v Horse Marathon (which by the way is the biggest horse race in Europe); the creators of an entire annual and bi-annual calendar of wonderfully weird and wacky family fun, joy and laughter.
Yesterday, we were visited by Steph and Dom. (of Goggle Box and Talk Radio fame) they were here in our 3rd biannual year of World Alternative Games, trying their being at Wife Carrying and Husband Dragging, just two events in a fortnight full of events that make up the World Alternative Games. (I will tell you all about the history of that another time).
Last October, Anto Sharp (famous if you are into Youtubers) was here being filmed having been challenged to Bog Snorkel in under 4 minutes – there’s a four part mini series – four short 2-4 minute videos about this and they’re just fantastic.
In fact why not do a search – type in Man v horse and you’ll find hundreds of great clips both amateur and professional. Likewise Real ale Wobble (come on I know you’re intrigued); try Bog Triathlon or even Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling or Mountain Bike Chariot Racing.
We are the eccentric capital of the UK.