Ian Weightman

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The Brecon Beacons: By Royal Appointment

It would appear to be quite easy to follow in the footsteps of Royalty on a tour of The Brecon Beacons.

It's a fairly well-known fact that HRH Prince Charles has an estate near to Llandovery, on the western edges of this glorious National Park.

But what few people know, is that it's also possible to spend a day in The Brecon Beacons striding-out across some of the footpaths which he has probably trodden, sampling the Welsh whisky he himself has seen being stilled, and even getting behind the wheel of a vehicle which, as visitors to a recent exhibition noticed, clearly captured the attention of the Prince of Wales.

The Brecon Beacons, of course, is one of the UK's finest natural playgrounds.

The wide open spaces, and miles of footpaths, make it an obvious pick for anyone interested in walking, horse riding, or mountain biking.

But now, there's yet another eco-friendly, and very green mode of transport available to anyone who spends a night or two in The Brecon Beacons.

The b-bug is powered by electricity which can be traced back to rainwater, they can be delivered to your accommodation, and used on the Brecon Beacons' highways and byways by anyone in possession of a fully compreensive insurance policy.

One of 4 winners at the Green Dragons' Den Sustainable Development Challenge which ran at the 2010 Hay Festival, the project was awarded £10,000 by the Welsh Assembly Government in order to design and build two open-air, electrically-powered, road-legal buggies (b-bugs) for use in the Brecon Beacons National Park in 2011.

They offer an alternative way to travel around the area, and consume only 'locally sourced' electricity - generated by the Talybont-on-Usk micro hydro scheme (hence the idea of "rain-powered transport").

Just imagine... waking up in a self catering cottage in some of the wildest, most remote countryside in Britain, and then going to collect your daily newspaper in an electronic vehicle capable of a top speed of 30mph. Or driving through the country lanes and market towns of The Brecon Beacons before plugging it into the mains while you enjoy a pub lunch.

As easy to drive as a go-kart, it's an exhilarating experience. And with only two pedals to think about - the accelerator and the brake - it takes just two minutes of instructions, and then five minutes of driving along the quiet Brecon Beacons' roads to "catch the bug".

Two of the vehicles are currently available, so you will need to be quick to reserve one. But expect these bugs to proliferate rapidly during the coming months and years.

And finally, a health warning: please don't drink and drive.

But DO take the time to call in at the Penderyn whisky distillery (http://www.welsh-whisky.co.uk/) to the south of the national park. It's a genuine eye-opener for anyone who has never taken the time to work out what else the Welsh can do with their rainwater. And the tasting at the end of the tour is a great guide as to what to look out for when you smell and taste this golden nectar.

Where to stay? On a regal tour like this, there really is only one option: one of he Brecon Cottages with some wonderful royal connections - Porthmawr Country House

http://www.breconcottages.com/images/properties/large/portm64_gate_house_ext.jpg

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