Cookies on our website

The Natural Resources Wales website uses cookies. By continuing to browse or by clicking “Continue,” you agree to the storing of first- and third-party cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyse site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. Cookie policy.

Bwlch Nant yr Arian Forest Visitor Centre, near Aberystwyth

Red kite feeding, family fun and trails for walking, running and mountain biking

View of the lake at Bwlch Nant yr Arian Forest

What's here

Accessible facilities
Baby changing facilities
Café
Dogs welcome
Horse Riding
Mountain biking
Orienteering route
Parking (accessible)
Parking (charge)
Picnic area
Play Area
Running trail
Shop
Toilets
Visitor Centre
Walking trail
Work is currently underway to replace and expand the decking around the visitor centre and there is also work planned to replace the boiler and construct a new ‘Blue grade’ mountain bike trail. There may be some disruption at the centre during this time. Please check the ‘Closures and Diversions’ section for the latest information.

Welcome

Visit Wales gold award logoBwlch Nant yr Arian Visitor Centre sits at the head of a dramatic valley and has commanding views of Cardigan Bay and the Cambrian Mountains.

It is well-known for its long established tradition of daily feeding of red kites, Wales’s National Bird of Prey.

There is a range of trails for walkers, mountain bikers, and runners which are waymarked from the visitor centre.

There is also a skills park with a purpose-built track for mountain bikers to practice their technique and a waymarked circular trail for horse riders along forest tracks, paths and quiet tarmacked roads.

Bwlch Nant yr Arian has been awarded the Gold Award by Visit Wales for attractions which make an exceptional effort to create an enjoyable and memorable experience for their visitors.

Walking trails

WalkersAll of the walking trails are waymarked and start from the visitor centre.

Barcud Trail (includes Animal Puzzle Trail and Elenydd Trail)

⅔ mile, 1.2 kilometre, accessible

The Barcud Trail leads you around the edge of the lake where the daily feeding of the red kites takes place (the Welsh for red kite is “Barcud Coch”). It is a circular level route suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs.

Along the route there are wooden animals to spot - pick up an Animal Puzzle Trail leaflet from the dispenser or in the visitor centre and see how many animals you can find.

Look out for sculptures and poetry along the path which bring local folklore and history to life – pick up an Elenydd Trail leaflet in the visitor centre.

More information

Miners Trail

1½ miles, 2.4 kilometres, moderate

The Miners Trail winds along the head of the valley, following a leat which once carried water to power lead mines. It climbs a short but steep hillside towards the Giant’s Chair, a great place to take in the view. It then drops down across a forest road and into an area which has recently been planted with 12,000 native trees on its way back to the visitor centre.

More information

Ridgetop Trail

2.5 miles, 4.1 kilometres, moderate

Follow the waymarkers up onto the heather clad ridge and enjoy the views of Cardigan Bay and the Cambrian Mountains. Head past the stone viewpoint before dropping down through the trees. Join the narrow leat path which brings you back to the car park.

More information

Mountain biking trails 

Mountain bikerAll of the mountain biking trails are waymarked and start from the visitor centre.

Pick a trail that is right for you by checking information about trail grading on our mountain biking page.

Pendam Trail

10.2 kilometres, Grade Red/Difficult

Pendam Trail combines sections of the ‘Summit’ and ‘Syfydrin’ trails to give you a taste of the fantastic riding and scenery available. Although it is the shortest route at Nant yr Arian, it includes lots of sweet singletrack and some hard climbs, parts of it are technically challenging.

More information

Summit Trail

19.1 kilometres, Grade Red/Difficult

The Summit Trail is a roller coaster ride of fantastic purpose built singletrack that weaves its way through conifer plantations, down steep sided slopes and along deep river valleys.

More information

Syfydrin Trail

35.7 kilometres, Grade Black/Severe

The Syfydrin Trail takes in all of the Summit Trail with its fantastic swooping, flowing singletrack, and adds to it by leading you out onto the high open hills with stunning views.

More information

Parc Sgiliau (skills park)

Skills parkThe skills park is a purpose-built track for mountain bikers to practice their technique or just warm up before hitting the longer trails which start from the visitor centre.

Features include rollers, step ups, berms, tabletops, hips and bowls.

It was designed and built by Trailcraft.

The site was carefully selected so that the track doesn’t affect other trails or the view of the lake.

Running trails

Running trailThe waymarked running trails start from the car park.

Named after an imposing pair of Bronze Age local standing stones, Buwch a’r Llo (Cow and Calf), they are a fantastic introduction to trail running.

Please note:

  • Both of these trails require a reasonable level of fitness
  • Be prepared for an interesting mixture of exposed forest roads and singletrack paths, with occasional roots, mud and rocks
  • There are steep ascents and descents and occasional sections of tarmac road on Y Fuwch
  • You will need suitable footwear and clothing
  • Please be aware of other trail users

Y Llo Trail

3.1 miles, 5 kilometres, moderate

Y Llo Trail starts off with a flat section almost two kilometres long before climbing up onto the ridge and leading back to the car park.

More information

Y Fuwch Trail

6.5 miles, 10.4 kilometres, difficult

This challenging run follows Y Llo before crossing the road and past a ruined farmstead. Join the forest road which will take you past Syfydrin Lake then back past the ruin before climbing back along the ridge to the car park.

More information

Horse riding trail

This challenging run follows Y Llo before crossing the road and past a ruined farmstead. Join the forest road which will take you past Syfydrin Lake then back past the ruin before climbing back along the ridge to the car park.

Mynydd March Trail

4 miles, 6.7 kilometres

This waymarked trail is named after a local hill (Mynydd March or Horse Mountain). There are stunning views over Cardigan Bay and Pumlumon Fawr, the highest mountain in mid Wales.

It starts on the forest road (grid reference SN 717 814) and follows a circular route taking in a mixture of forest roads, public roads and trails. There are a few short steeper sections and be prepared for a variety of surfaces.

Please note:

  • Please park horse boxes along the forest road beyond the main car park. If the gate is locked, ask for a key in the visitor centre
  • There is ample space for turning large vehicles and a corral
  • The forest at Bwlch Nant yr Arian welcomes many types of recreation user so be prepared to meet mountain bikers, walkers and runners

More information

Orienteering

There are four permanent orienteering courses (a series of posts you have to find in order).

These include an easier course for beginners, often used by families, and a harder course for experienced orienteers.

Get the special map from the visitor centre, then use your map reading skills to try to find orienteering marker posts (called controls) in the right order.

Red kite feeding

Red kiteThe red kite is an unmistakable bird of prey with its reddish-brown body, angled wings and deeply forked tail.

Red kites are fed by the lake at Bwlch Nant yr Arian every day at 2pm in winter (GMT) and at 3pm in summer (BST).

You can expect to see as many as 150 red kites coming in to feed – there are often more during winter months.

They swoop down to pick a piece of meat and eat on the wing.

They are mostly local birds and they come to feed from within a ten mile radius.

Bwlch Nant yr Arian became a red kite feeding station in 1999 as part of a programme to protect the small number of these birds in the area then.

Tips for watching the red kite feeding

Visitors watching the red kite feeding

  • Make sure you arrive in time! The red kite feeding is at 2pm in winter (GMT) and at 3pm in summer (BST)
  • Follow the Barcud Trail easy access walking route around the lake to the viewing area
  • Continue past the viewing area to the large bird hide for close-up views of the kites swooping down to feed
  • The outside seating next to the café has views towards the lake and the red kite feeding area - this is a great place to watch the kites through your binoculars
  • Enjoy the spectacle from the café if the weather is bad
  • Find out more about red kites from the information boards in the bird hide

Play areas

Children in play areaThere are two play areas, one for toddlers and one for older children.

  • The toddlers’ play area is for children aged between three and six years. It has a safety-surfaced play zone and easy access for parents, pushchairs and young children. The equipment includes two toddler swings and a purpose built unit with a slide, climbing wall, climbing net and ladder
  • The Dizzy Heights Play Area is for children aged six years and older. It has a wood chip surface, two giant basket swings, an orangutan climbing frame and a purpose-built section with slide, climbing wall, rope ladder, fireman's pole and climbing net

All of the play equipment is of robust timber construction which blends in with the forest surroundings.

Discovery backpack

Discovery backpackYou can borrow a free discovery backpack at the visitor centre and discover more of the great outdoors.

Each backpack contains useful goodies like binoculars, a magnifying glass, a bug pot and nature identification cards along with a guide explaining how to use them.

Find out more about the discovery backpacks.

Café

The café menu includes hot and cold snacks and a delicious choice of cakes.

It is open seven days a week from 10am to 5pm.

Please note that hot food is only served between 10am and 3pm.

More information

Shop

The shop sells wood crafts, jams and chutneys, bottled Welsh beer, books and an ever changing range of gifts.

Accessibility information

Family on Barcud TrailThe Barcud Trail, which goes around the edge of 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.

Other facilities include:

  • disabled parking
  • wheelchair access to the visitor centre and café
  • disabled toilets
  • facilities for the hearing impaired in café
  • courtesy wheelchair

Using drones

We generally don't allow recreation drone use at Bwlch Nant yr Arian due to the possible disturbance or harm to the red kites that live and feed here.

However, if you would like to fly a drone at Bwlch Nant yr Arian, you can apply for permission to do so.

Use the events form on our Using and Enjoying Woodlands page.

Closures and diversions

Please note:

  • Sometimes we need to close or divert trails for your safety whilst we undertake maintenance work or forest operations
  • Occasionally we may have to close a site in extreme weather, such as high winds or snow and ice due to the risk of injury to visitors or staff
  • Please always follow any instructions on-site and make sure you follow any temporary diversion signs in place

Opening times

  • The visitor centre is open from 10am to 5pm seven days a week (except Christmas day, Boxing day and New Year's day)
  • The café is open from 10am to 5pm seven days a week (except Christmas day, Boxing day and New Year's day). Hot food is served between 10am and 3pm daily
  • The shop is open from 11am to 4.30pm seven days a week (except Christmas day, Boxing day and New Year's day). It is closed during red kite feeding periods
  • The red kites are fed daily at 2pm in winter (GMT) and 3pm in summer (BST). These times vary from winter to summer based on British Summer Time

How to get here

Bwlch Nant yr Arian Forest Visitor Centre is nine miles east of Aberystwyth on the A44.

The OS grid reference is SN 717 813.

Download the location map.

Car parking

Please pay at the ticket machine in the car park on arrival.

Car parking costs:

  • £1.50 for 1 hour
  • £3 for up to 3 hours
  • £5 for all day

You can buy an annual car parking pass for £30 from the visitor centre or café.

Public transport

The nearest train station is in Aberystwyth.

The 525 bus from Aberystwyth - Ponterwyd/Llanidloes stops on request at the entrance to the car park.

For details of public transport visit the Traveline Cymru website.

Find out more

Contact details

Bwlch Nant yr Arian Visitor Centre, Ponterwyd, Aberystwyth SY23 3AB

Tel: 01970 890453

Email: bnya@naturalresourceswales.gov.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bwlchnantyrarian

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BNYArian

Downloads

Other places in Mid Wales

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