Cookies on our website

The Natural Resources Wales website uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. For more details about cookies and how to manage them, see our cookie policy.

Top ten activities

Take your pick from our list of ten activities and try out something new!

Two children with binoculars

Two children with binoculars

Do you want to get active in the outdoors?

If you want to do something more than just go for a walk, we've got plenty of ideas for you.

Whether you fancy trying a treasure hunt in the woods or bird-watching from a boardwalk, there’s sure to be something you and your family fancy.

From sheltered woodlands to sweeping dunes and dramatic coastal wetlands, our sites allow you to explore the outdoors and challenge you to try something new.

Plan your visit

  • The PlacesToGo app shows you where you can go and what you can do in Wales’s public forests and National Nature Reserves. The PlaceTales app includes audio trails and folk tales to bring these places to life. Find out how to download these free apps on the Natural Resources Wales website before you set off on your trip
  • For details of public transport visit http://www.traveline.cymru/

Enjoy your visit

The Countryside Code helps you respect, protect and enjoy the countryside, enabling you to get the most out of your visit.

It provides you with helpful advice about:

  • Preparing for your trip
  • Keeping yourself and others safe
  • Ensuring the countryside remains a beautiful place that everyone can enjoy

Activity 1: Orienteering at Coed y Brenin Forest Park, North West Wales

Group of people Orienteering at Coed y Brenin Forest ParkAre you looking for an exciting outdoor activity that the whole family can enjoy together? Then orienteering could be for you – it’s suitable for all ages and fitness levels and you can progress at your own pace.

There are four permanent orienteering courses (a series of wooden posts you have to find in order) in Coed y Brenin Forest Park. They start and finish at the Visitor Centre where you can find all the information you need to make the most of your day.

There are two easier courses for beginners (yellow and orange). The yellow course is suitable for younger children and is a fun way to develop map reading skills. The routes are all graded to British Orienteering Federation standards and there are also two harder courses (red and green) for confident map readers and experienced orienteers.

Whichever course you pick and however fast you do it, you’re sure to feel a real sense of achievement when you finish and be ready for your next woodland adventure.

Length: Courses range in distance from 1 to 1.5 miles (1.5 to 2.5 kilometres)

Terrain: The yellow course can be completed on good paths but the terrain on the other three courses varies

Before you go: Waterproof orienteering maps are available to buy from the visitor centre. You will need a compass and some knowledge of how to use it.

Start and finish: Coed y Brenin Visitor Centre where there is a café, toilets and other facilities for visitors. There is a parking charge.

Getting there: Coed y Brenin Forest Park Visitor Centre is on the east side of the A470, eight miles north of Dolgellau. It is just north of Ganllwyd and south of Trawsfynnydd, the nearest villages. There is a parking charge. The nearest train stations are in Barmouth (Cambrian Coast line) and Blaenau Ffestiniog (Blaenau Ffestiniog-Llandudno line). Bus numbers T2 (Dolgellau – Aberystwyth) and 35 (Blaenau Ffestiniog – Dolgellau) pass the entry road to the car park.

Find out more about orienteering at Coed y Brenin Forest Park

Activity 2: Red kite watching at Bwlch Nant yr Arian Visitor Centre, Mid Wales

Girl with binocularsSpotting a red kite in Mid Wales is easy enough these days, but there’s still nothing like the sight of flocks of these distinctive birds of prey coming in to feed at Bwlch Nant yr Arian Visitor Centre.

This visitor centre near Aberystwyth is famous for the daily spectacle of feeding the red kites. This event can be watched from the comfort of the café or from many places around the lake, including a bird hide overlooking the feeding area. Feeding takes place at 2pm in winter and at 3pm in summer when as many as 200 red kites can be seen. On an overcast day the sky makes a moody backdrop to masses of these forked tail birds wheeling around above the lake before plummeting to grab pieces of meat from the ground with their talons.

The Welsh for red kite is “Barcud Coch” and the appropriately named Barcud Trail, which is suitable for wheelchairs, goes around the edge of the lake where the feeding of the red kites takes place.

Length: The Barcud Trail is two thirds of a mile (1.2 kilometres)

Terrain: The Barcud Trail around the lake is suitable for wheelchairs. There are no steps or stiles and the gradient is 10% or less with resting bays on uphill sections.

Start and finish: Bwlch Nant yr Arian Visitor Centre where there is a café, toilets and other facilities for visitors. There is a parking charge.

Getting there: Bwlch Nant yr Arian Forest Visitor Centre is nine miles east of Aberystwyth on the A44. The nearest train station is in Aberystwyth. The 525 bus from Aberystwyth - Ponterwyd/Llanidloes stops on request at the entrance to the car park. The National Express coach service stops daily at Ponterwyd and Aberystwyth.

Find out more about Bwlch Nant yr Arian Visitor Centre

Activity 3: Mountain biking for beginners at Afan Forest Park, South Wales

Two men on bikesAre you new to mountain biking or are you looking for a relaxing cycle ride to do with the family? Then head for Afan Forest Park where the Rookie Trail has been designed especially for less experienced riders. There’s no need to bring (or buy!) a bike as there are two bike hire outlets.

All mountain bike trails are graded to help you pick one that’s right for you and, as its name implies, The Rookie Trail is graded as a green (easy) trail. The route meanders through some pleasant riverside scenery and can be ridden in all weathers.

If you want to develop your mountain biking skills, stop off at the family skills area half way along. Here you can ride down some small rocks and try out riding banked turns, known as berms. If that whets your appetite for a bigger adventure, then follow the optional blue-graded (moderate) loop by the river which is signposted at the end of the green section.

And, if you get bitten by the mountain biking bug, there are many more trails to try at Afan Forest Park – maybe one day you’ll be ready for the twists and swooping descents of the black-graded trail.

Length: The Rookie Trail includes a 3.5 mile (5.5 kilometre) stretch of green-graded (easy) trail and a 1.5 mile (2.3 kilometre) optional blue-graded (moderate) loop.

Terrain: This is a wide trail with some swooping descents.

Start and finish: Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre

Before you go: Read more information on mountain biking

Getting there: Afan Forest Park is located just off the M4 near Port Talbot. Take junction 40 from the M4 onto the A4107. After six miles, Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre is signposted, near the village of Cwmafan. The nearest train station is in Port Talbot.

Find out more about Afan Forest Park

Activity 4: Geocaching at Coed y Brenin Forest Park, North West Wales

Boy with geocacheGeocaching is a kind of outdoor treasure hunt that’s certain to make even the most reluctant walkers get active in any weather without realising it!

The aim is to hunt out carefully hidden caches (containers) using maps and GPS (Global Positioning System) receivers. If you find a cache, and some are very hard to spot, there is a log book for you to record your visit and often items that you can swap for something you have brought with you.

Coed y Brenin Forest Park has two circular geocache trails designed for walkers. Both follow forest roads and footpaths and take in secluded sites of historic importance hidden in the forest. The caches include information about some of these sites including the Sarn Helen Roman road, a Medieval iron works and the disused goldmines at Gwynfynydd.

If you get bitten by the geo-caching bug, you’ll be pleased to know that geocaches can be found all over the world. You may even decide to hide a cache of your own!

Length: The Roman March is 3 miles (5 kilometres) and the Miner’s Trek is 5 miles (8 kilometres).

Terrain: The trails have uneven surfaces and steep ascents and descents. The caches are not placed in any area of obvious danger but please be aware that there are fast flowing rivers, deep gorges and old workings in the forest park.

Before you go: You can either hire a GPS from the visitor centre (ring 01341 440746 to book one in advance) or you can download the co-ordinates onto your own GPS at home from https://www.geocaching.com/play. If you want to trade an item in the geocache, bring something with you and remember to wear stout footwear.

Start and finish: Coed y Brenin Forest Park Visitor Centre where there is a café, toilets and other facilities for visitors. There is a parking charge.

Getting there: Coed y Brenin Forest Park Visitor Centre is on the east side of the A470, eight miles north of Dolgellau. It is just north of Ganllwyd and south of Trawsfynnydd, the nearest villages. The nearest train stations are in Barmouth (Cambrian Coast line) and Blaenau Ffestiniog (Blaenau Ffestiniog-Llandudno line). Bus numbers T2 (Dolgellau – Aberystwyth) and 35 (Blaenau Ffestiniog – Dolgellau) pass the entry road to the car park.  

Find out more about geocaching at Coed y Brenin Forest Park

Activity 5: Birdwatching for beginners at Newport Wetlands National Nature Reserve, South East Wales 

LapwingIf you are new to birdwatching, then head down to Newport Wetlands National Nature Reserve. Buy a guidebook from the visitor centre (you can even rent binoculars) or check out the information panels around the boardwalks through the reedbeds, then see how many species you can spot.

The winter is a great time to visit for those new to birdspotting as this is when there are the largest flocks of birds here. And, as there’s less vegetation to hide them from view, they are easier to see!

During the winter you’ll be spoilt for choice for species to spot– look out for over-wintering wildfowl such as tufted duck, pochard, shelduck and shoveler and waders such as curlew and dunlin.

Even if you can’t tell a tufted duck from a pochard, you won’t fail to spot the thousands of starlings which come into roost at the reserve at dusk. You’ll see (and hear!) more than 10,000 birds swirling overhead in ever-changing formations (known as a murmuration) as they get ready to spend the night in the reedbed near the visitor centre.

In spring, the reedbeds come alive with song as they provide a home for warblers, mute swans, tufted ducks, coot and families of little grebe which you can see from the viewing screens, hide or viewing platform.

As autumn arrives, so do the over-wintering wildfowl, including wigeon and teal, along with wading birds like lapwing and dunlin.

Length: There are five waymarked trails varying in length from just over a mile (1.6 kilometres) to 4 miles (6 kilometres).

Terrain: The paths are level with some gentle slopes and a zig-zag ramp to climb the five metres up to the raised reedbed levels. All of the paths around the Uskmouth Reedbeds are accessible to wheelchairs and there are benches approximately every 100 metres.

Start and finish: The visitor centre is run by the RSPB and is a great place to learn more about birds or find out about the walking trails and other events. The café has a fantastic view over the reedbeds, making it a great spot for some leisurely bird watching on a cold or rainy day.

Getting there: Newport Wetlands National Nature Reserve is five miles south of Newport off the A48. From M4 Junction 24 take the A48 west and then follow the brown duck signs to the Newport Wetlands National Nature Reserve car park. From M4 Junction 28 take the A48 east and then follow the brown duck signs. The car park and entrance to the visitor centre is free of charge. Sustrans National Cycle Route 4 has a branch to Newport Wetlands using cycle paths and quiet roads. There is a covered cycle stand in the car park and a cycle stand next to the Visitor Centre entrance

Find out more about Newport Wetlands National Nature Reserve

Activity 6: Become an animal detective in Coed Moel Famau North East Wales

Family on a bridge at Coed Moel Famua car parkExplore the Forest Tracker Trail with the family and help them discover who lives in our woods. They can rub brass plaques, discover who snuffles around in the undergrowth and splash around in puddles at Stones Flow. There are eight animals to find out about as you wind your way through the woods. If the children are still feeling active they can climb inside a giant Cedar tree and swing inside a bird cradle in the Hawk’s Nest play area.

You can pick up a leaflet from the dispenser in the car park. Don’t forget to bring some crayons with you for the brass rubbing to enhance the children’s visit or pick up a free crayon from nearby Loggerheads Country Park which is also a great place for a warming cuppa and bite to eat when you finish your walk.

Length: The Forest Tracker Trail is one mile long and takes about 45 minutes to complete.

Terrain: Please note that certain parts of the Forest Tracker Trail are not suitable for pushchairs or wheelchairs.

Start and finish: Coed Moel Famau car park. There is a charge for parking. An annual parking permit is available for several car parks in the Clwydian Range.

Getting there: Coed Moel Famau is three miles south west of Mold, signposted off the A494. From the north: take the A494 from Mold through the towns of Gwernymynydd and Loggerheads, until the junction with 'Moel Famau Country Park' signposted to the right. Follow this road for one mile, and the car park is on the right. From the south: take the A494 from Ruthin towards Mold. After passing through the village of Llanferres turn left at the junction with 'Moel Famau Country Park' signposted. Follow this road for one mile, and the car park is on the right. The OS grid reference is SJ 161 627.

Find out more about trails in Coed Moel Famau

Activity 7: Running at Coed y Brenin Forest Park Visitor Centre

Man runningIf you want to get your pulse racing and really raise your fitness levels, try one of the Sarn Helen Running Trails at Coed y Brenin, the UK’s first bespoke trail running centre.

The long trail climbs up on to the Cefndeuddwr ridge before descending into the valley of the River Gain. You then follow the river upstream to the ruins of Penmaen Farm and climb back up the hillside to the Sarn Helen Roman road, a major imperial route on the edge of the Roman Empire linking North and South Wales. You also pass medieval ironworks before returning along the forest road to the visitor centre.

The short trail is a moderate route which is mainly on forest roads. It climbs up onto the Cefndeuddwr ridge and then joins the Sarn Helen Roman road before descending back to the visitor centre.

Along the way, there are panoramic views of the mountains of southern Snowdonia, cascading rivers, tranquil plunge pools, heather moorland and the dappled shade of broadleaf oak woods.

While you’re here, why not visit Run Coed y Brenin,  the onsite running shop.

Length: The Sarn Helen Long Trail is just over 5.2 miles (8.5 kilometres) with a 198 metre climb. The Sarn Helen Short Trail is 2.7 miles (4.3 kilometres) with a 97 metre climb.

Terrain: The Sarn Helen Running Trails are on a mixture of forest roads and muddy single track paths.

Start and finish: Coed y Brenin Forest Park Visitor Centre where there is a café, toilets and other facilities for visitors. There is a parking charge.

Before you go: Whether you are a beginner or a long distance runner, make sure you’re geared up for your run and the weather conditions.

  • You’ll need footwear and kit to suit the conditions as well as water and provisions
  • Trail shoes are recommended for muddy sections
  • If you get into difficulty, follow the Escape Route waymarkers for a low-level return to the visitor centre
  • Please follow any diversion signs and be aware that timber lorries may be using the forest roads

Getting there: Coed y Brenin Forest Park Visitor Centre is on the east side of the A470, eight miles north of Dolgellau. It is just north of Ganllwyd and south of Trawsfynnydd, the nearest villages. There is a parking charge. The nearest train stations are in Barmouth (Cambrian Coast line) and Blaenau Ffestiniog (Blaenau Ffestiniog-Llandudno line). Bus numbers T2 (Dolgellau – Aberystwyth) and 35 (Blaenau Ffestiniog – Dolgellau) pass the entry road to the car park.

Find out more about running at Coed y Brenin Forest Park Visitor Centre and watch the video to get a flavour of the running facilities and trails

Activity 8: Birdwatching at Dyfi: Ynyslas National Nature Reserve, Mid Wales 

LapwingGrab your binoculars and head for Dyfi: Ynyslas National Nature Reserve, one of Cardigan Bay’s most important areas for birdlife. This is a popular spot during the summer but it’s well worth a visit during the quieter winter months, too, when the stunning landscape is particularly dramatic. Whenever you choose to visit, it is a great place for birdspotting.

Located midway between Aberystwyth and Machynlleth, the Dyfi estuary with its mudflats, sandbanks and extensive salt marsh offers an abundant supply of marine worms and shellfish for birds to feast on. Birds commonly seen here are shelduck, ringed plover, oystercatcher, dunlin and wigeon.

Autumn is a great time to spot wading birds in the estuary which soon becomes home to wintering wildfowl, including the only population of Greenland white-front geese that regularly overwinter in Wales.

Winter is also the best time to see red kites, buzzards, hen harriers, merlin and peregrine falcons.

Spring brings plenty of birdsong to Ynyslas sand dunes (which are the largest in Ceredigion) from skylarks, linnets, stonechat, whitethroat chiffchaffs and willow warblers. As dusk falls on warmer, still evenings, listen out for the churring song of nightjars.

Length: There are three circular waymarked walks which range from just over 1 mile (2 kilometres) to 2½ miles (4 kilometres).

Terrain: The walks at Ynyslas are flat to undulating and go over sand, paths and stretches of boardwalk. The boardwalk and woodchip path at Cors Fochno is flat. You are also free to wander on the dunes and foreshore but wandering over mudflats and the saltmarsh can be very hazardous due to the risk of getting stuck and rising tides.

Start and finish: There are information panels and a visitor centre at Ynyslas (open from Easter to September where you can ask the centre staff about the wildlife that’s been spotted here recently. The waymarked walks explore the three parts of the reserve (Ynyslas dunes, the Dyfi estuary and the raised peat bog of Cors Fochno).

Before you go: Check out updates on birds seen in the area on the Ceredigion Bird Blog

Getting there: The main access point to the Dyfi: Ynyslas National Nature Reserve is Ynyslas which is two kilometres north of Borth on the B4353. The nearest train station is in Borth. There is a bus service from Aberystwyth to Tre’r-ddol, which goes via Borth and Ynyslas.

Find out more about Dyfi: Ynyslas National Nature Reserve

Activity 9: Mountain biking for junior riders at Garwnant Forest Park, South Wales

Boy on mountain bike trailIf you’re looking for a safe environment for children to get to grips with a mountain bike, then Garwnant Visitor Centre is the place to go.

There are two short trails which have been designed for junior riders to improve their riding technique and build confidence. The Rowan Trail starts with a warm-up in the skills park and then climbs up a broad singletrack before descending through turns, humps and bumps. The Spruce Trail shares the same ascent but includes some trickier features like a drop off, steep bermed corners and a fast descent with turns.

The skills park has a series of child-friendly obstacles designed especially to improve young riders’ skills and build their confidence. Riders push their bike up the ramp and ride around each of the features in turn at their own speed or they can chose to avoid a feature.

Garwnant is the southern gateway to the Brecon Beacons National Park and this beautiful woodland makes a great family day out. There’s an accessible trail for wheelchair users and buggies, a play area, a low ropes course and a café.

Length: The Rowan Trail is 550 metres long and the Spruce Trail is 450 metres long.

Terrain: Both trails are undulating with turns, humps and bumps. The Rowan Trail is a green (easy) grade trail and the Spruce Trail is a blue (moderate) grade trail.

Start and finish: Garwnant Visitor Centre car park where there is a café, toilets and other facilities for visitors. There is a parking charge.

Before you go: Read more information on mountain biking

Getting there: Garwnant Visitor Centre is just off the main A470 between Brecon and Merthyr Tydfil. The nearest train station is in Merthyr Tydfil. The local bus service which passes the site is the T4 Merthyr to Brecon.

Find out more about Garwnant Visitor Centre

Activity 10: Red squirrel spotting at Llyn Parc Mawr, Newborough National Nature Reserve and Forest, North West Wales

A red squirrel at Llyn Parc MawrIf spotting a rare red squirrel is on your bucket list, then head for Llyn Parc Mawr, Newborough National Nature Reserve and Forest on Anglesey.

Anglesey is a stronghold for the UK’s only native squirrel species due to the eradication of grey squirrels from the island. Even during the winter, when most mammals are in hibernation, red squirrels are still active. In the morning during spells of milder weather is a particularly good time to catch a glimpse of one.

The best place to start your search for red squirrels is the Llyn Parc Mawr car park. Here, you have a good chance of seeing them at the feeders before you set out on the Red Squirrel Walk, a waymarked circular trail through the trees. Red squirrels like the mix of pines and native tree species which we grow here as they provide them with food and shelter.

Keep your eyes peeled for a colourful flash of red in the trees and listen out for the sound of nest boxes opening and shutting as the squirrels go in and out. If you are really lucky, you will see these enchanting little animals chase each other up and down the trees. Happy red squirrel spotting and don’t forget your camera!

Length: The Red Squirrel Walk is 1.5 miles (2.5 kilometres).

Terrain: An easy waymarked trail with some sections on loose sand and short climbs up sand dunes. There are narrow sections alongside open water.

Before you go: Learn more about the red squirrels on Anglesey.

Start and finish: Llyn Parc Mawr car park

Getting there: From the A55, follow the A4080 to Newborough village, continue through the village in the direction of Malltraeth. Once the forest is on either side of the roads Llyn Parc Mawr car park is signposted on the right (Wildlife Pool).

Find out more about Newborough National Nature Reserve

Is there anything wrong with this page? Give us your feedback.