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Enjoy the red kites and views in our most popular woodland in mid Wales with a range of walking, running and mountain biking trails, visitor centre and cafe
Bwlch Nant yr Arian Visitor Centre sits at the head of a dramatic valley and has commanding views of Cardigan Bay and the Cambrian Mountains.
The visitor centre is the starting point for a range of waymarked trails for walkers, mountain bikers, runners and horse riders.
It is well-known for its long established tradition of daily feeding of red kites, Wales’s National Bird of Prey.
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.
The range of trails includes:
All of the walking trails are waymarked and start from the visitor centre.
Two thirds of a 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 suitable for wheelchairs. Along the route there are wooden animals to spot - pick up an Animal Puzzle Trail leaflet from the visitor centre.
1.5 miles, 2.5 kilometres, moderate
The Miners Trail winds along the head of the valley, following a leat which once carried water to power lead mines. It then climbs a short but steep hillside and returns through recently planted deciduous woodland.
3 miles, 3.5 kilometres, moderate
The Ridgetop Trail rewards you with non-stop stunning views including a panorama of the Rheidol and Melindwr valleys, Cardigan Bay and Plynlimon, the highest mountain in mid Wales and which is known as Pumlumon in Welsh.
All of the mountain biking trails are waymarked and start from the visitor centre.
See our mountain biking page for a list of all our mountain bike trails and information about grading to make sure you pick a trail that is right for you.
Please also read the relevant on-site information before setting off on your ride.
5.6 miles, 9 kilometres, Grade Red/Difficult
11 miles, 18 kilometres, Grade Red/Difficult
The Summit Trail takes in all the singletrack at Bwlch Nant yr Arian which includes plenty of flowing and twisty sections and a big climb in the middle as well as some superb views.
22 miles, 35 kilometres, Grade Black/Severe
The Syfydrin Trail includes the entire Summit trail with its fantastic singletrack, and also leads you out onto the high open hills for a long and challenging ride in exposed and remote countryside.
The skills park is an exciting new addition to the mountain bike features at Bwlch Nant yr Arian.
It has 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.
The skills park was designed and built by Trailcraft. The site was carefully selected so that the new track doesn’t affect other trails or the view of the lake.
The waymarked running trails start from the car park. Named after two local standing stones, the Cow and Calf, these exciting routes offer a fantastic introduction to trail running in the Cambrian Mountains.
6.5 miles, 10 kilometres, moderate
The Fuwch Trail is a challenging route which takes in a variety of surfaces and several steep ascents.
3.1 miles, 5 kilometres, moderate
The 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.
6.5 miles, 10.5 kilometres
The waymarked horse trail starts on the forest road (grid reference SN 717 814) and follows a circular route taking in a mixture of forest tracks, paths and quiet tarmacked roads.
Parking is provided along the forest road beyond the main car park with ample space for turning large vehicles.
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.
In 1999, Bwlch Nant yr Arian became a red kite feeding station as part of a programme to protect the small number of red kites in the area at that time.
Nowadays, the red kites are fed by the lake every day at 2pm in winter (GMT) and at 3pm in summer (BST).
The Barcud Trail (an easy access route around the lake) and the café offer fantastic views of this spectacle. There is also a bird hide overlooking the feeding area.
You can expect to see as many as 150 kites coming in to feed – there are often more during winter months. They are mostly local birds and they come to feed from within a 10 mile radius.
There are two play areas, one for toddlers and one for older children.
All of the play equipment is of robust timber construction which blends in with the forest surroundings.
You 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.
The café menu includes succulent pork sausages and tasty beef burgers, homemade soups and a delicious choice of cakes.
It is open seven days a week from 10am to 5pm (hot food is served between 10am and 3pm).
The shop sells wood crafts, jams and chutneys, bottled Welsh beer, books and an ever changing range of gifts.
The 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.
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.
Bwlch Nant yr Arian Forest Visitor Centre is nine miles east of Aberystwyth on the A44.
The OS grid reference is SN 717 813.
On-site parking costs £1.50 for up to two hours and £3.00 for over two hours. A season ticket is available.
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.
For details of public transport visit www.traveline.cymru
Bwlch Nant yr Arian Visitor Centre, Ponterwyd, Aberystwyth SY23 3AB
Tel: 01970 890453
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