Bwlch Nant yr Arian Visitor Centre, near Aberystwyth

What's here

From Friday 22 March the visitor centre will be open from 11am to 4pm and the café will be open from 11am to 3pm.

 

The electric vehicle (EV) charging point is currently out of use.

 

Due to forest operations, the following mountain bike trail sections are closed with a diversion:

 

  • Hippity Hop – affecting Syfydrin, Summit and Pendam trails
  • Mark of Zorro – affecting Syfydrin and Summit trails
  • forest road section parallel to Llyn Syfydrin – affecting Syfydrin and Summit trails

There are also diversions near Llyn Syfydrin on the following trails:

 

  • Y Fuwch running trail
  • Mynydd March horse riding trail

Please follow all instructions and diversion signs on site.

 

Please check the Bwlch Nant yr Arian Facebook page for the latest information.

Welcome

Bwlch Nant yr Arian Visitor Centre is well-known for its long-established tradition of daily feeding of red kites.

There is a wide range of waymarked trails for walkers, mountain bikers and runners.

There is also a skills park with a purpose-built track for mountain bikers to practice their technique and a waymarked trail for horse riders.

The visitor centre is perched on a dramatic hilltop, straddling the boundary between the lowlands and uplands, and has commanding views of Cardigan Bay and the Cambrian Mountains.

Remnants of the lead mining industry are still visible along the trails but today bilberry and heather cover the hills whilst majestic red kites circle above.

Watch our video

Walking trails

The walking trails are waymarked from start to finish.

Look out for the information panel at the start of the trails.

Find out about walking trail grades.

Barcud Trail (includes Animal Puzzle Trail and Elenydd Trail)

  • Grade: Accessible
  • Distance: ¾ mile/1.3 kilometres
  • Max gradient: 10%
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Trail information: This circular, level route is suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs.

The Barcud Trail first hugs the northern edge of the lake, while the other side takes you through a mixture of woodland and open vistas.

“Barcud Coch” means red kite in Welsh and you will get the best view of the daily red kite feeding spectacle along this trail, either from inside the kite hide or at the kite viewpoint. Follow the posts along the trail to discover fascinating facts about the red kite or call in at the hide to find out more about wildlife on the lake.

The Animal Puzzle Trail follows this path, too - 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.

Miners' Trail

  • Grade: Moderate
  • Distance: 1½ miles/2.3 kilometres
  • Climb: 60 metres
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Trail information: The trail is on well-defined paths with waymarker posts at every junction. It has long and steep climbs and descents. The surfaces are generally in good condition but may be rough and wet in places and parts of the trails are very exposed to the weather. We recommend that you wear walking shoes with a good grip and adequate clothing for the weather.

Follow the waymarkers from the viewpoint down to an old mining leat.

At the next junction bear right up the hill and onto the ridgetop.

Walk towards our Giant’s Chair, a great place to take in the view.

From here drop down across a forest road and into an area which has recently been planted with 12,000 native trees.

Head down towards the lake and then back to the visitor centre.

Ridgetop Trail

  • Grade: Moderate
  • Distance: 2½ miles/4.1 kilometres
  • Climb: 80 metres
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Trail information: The trail is on well-defined paths with waymarker posts at every junction. It has long and steep climbs and descents. The surfaces are generally in good condition but may be rough and wet in places and parts of the trails are very exposed to the weather. We recommend that you wear walking shoes with a good grip and adequate clothing for the weather.

The longest of our waymarked trails, with magnificent views making every step worthwhile.

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.

Bear left at the next junction and then join the narrow leat path which will bring you back to the car park.

Mountain bike trails 

All our mountain bike trails are waymarked from start to finish and have been graded for difficulty.

At the start of the trail there is an information panel – please read this before setting off.

Arian Trail

  • Grade: Forest road and similar
  • Distance: 7.9 kilometres
  • Climb: 160 metres (maximum gradient: 12%)
  • Time: 45 minutes – 1½ hours

The Arian Trail is one for all the family to enjoy.

This forest road trail takes you to the picturesque Blaenmelindwr lake.

It’s a relatively low-level route on forest roads with no singletrack sections, but includes a section along a public road circling the lake.

Please be aware of vehicles and ride with due care and consideration for other users.

There is a short steepish climb on your return.

Melindwr Trail

  • Grade: Blue (moderate)
  • Loop 1: 1.85 kilometres/climb 75 metres
  • Loops 1 & 2: 5 kilometres/climb 110 metres

The Melindwr Trail is designed as a progression for riders who are competent riding blue grade trails to improve their skills before progressing to the next grade up.

It has two loops; riding both loops is 5km.

Loop 1 is under 2km with one forest road climb, a fine view with a bench and one super fun flowy descent with lots of berms back to the visitor centre.

Loop 2 takes you up the beginning of ‘Italian Job’ before descending the 'Half Pipe'. Take care on the next two-way shared use section before climbing round 'The Nose' for a distant view to the sea. Recover on the bench before a long, flowing descent with fun rollers and berms. The return forest road climb has one section of 12% gradient, but you’ll be well rewarded by the exciting final descent.

Pendam Trail

  • Grade: Red (difficult)
  • Distance: 10.2 kilometres
  • Climb: 200 metres
  • Time: 1-2 hours

Mastered the Melindwr Trail? The Pendam Trail strings together some of the best flowing sections in Nant yr  Arian with relatively short climbs.

With sections like ‘Italian Job’, ‘Hippity Hop’ and a fun final decent on ‘High as a Kite’, it’s a real blast! 

Summit Trail

  • Grade: Red (difficult)
  • Distance: 18.5 kilometres
  • Climb: 440  metres
  • Time: 1½ – 2½ hours

Summit is the longer more challenging red-grade trail which weaves its way through the forest and takes you out onto the exposed moorland.

‘Mark of Zorro’ gives a fantastic long descent, well worth the following climb up the ‘Leg Burner’.

Watch out for other users, especially horse riders, and please leave gates as you find them.

Syfydrin Trail

  • Grade: Black (severe)
  • Distance: 36 kilometres
  • Climb: 750 metres
  • Time: 3-5 hours

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.

It is a long and challenging ride in exposed and remote countryside, so go equipped for any eventuality, including plenty to eat and drink, spares, tools and clothing.

Make sure someone knows where you are going and when you expect to be back. It is safer riding with others.

Much of the route is on technical doubletrack, which is used by 4x4s, motorbikes, horse riders and walkers. Some of it is used as a waymarked horse riding route. Please ride with due care and consideration of other users. Please leave gates as you find them.

Parc Sgiliau (skills park)

The 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.

Skills park video

Running trails

The 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

  • Grade: Moderate
  • Distance: 3 miles/4.9 kilometres
  • Climb: 90 metres
  • Time: 30-45 minutes

This 5 kilometre trail starts off with a flat section for almost 2 kilometres before climbing up onto the ridge and back to the car park.

Y Fuwch

  • Grade: Strenuous
  • Distance: 6½ miles/10.5 kilometres
  • Climb: 240 metres
  • Time: 1-1½ hours

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.

Horse riding trail

Mynydd March Trail

  • Distance: 6½ miles/10.7 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
  • There is a corral near the parking area. Please use the corral sensibly and safely - think of other users and tie your horse up securely.
  • The forest at Bwlch Nant yr Arian welcomes many types of recreation user so be prepared to meet mountain bikers, walkers and runners

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.

To get started download the maps from the bottom of this page or get a copy from the visitor centre when you arrive.

Then use your map reading skills to try to find the marker posts (called controls) in the right order.

Red kite feeding

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

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.

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.

There is no charge to watch the red kite feeding. 

Tips for 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 and on the posts along the Barcud Trail
  • There is no charge to watch the red kite feeding

Play areas

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.

Toddlers play area

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.

Dizzy Heights Play Area

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.

Discovery backpack

You can get a 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.

Café

The café offers hot and cold drinks and a selection of cold food and snacks.

These are served in takeaway containers and can be eaten inside or taken away.

Please see the opening hours below.

Shop

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

Visit Wales Gold Award

Bwlch Nant yr Arian has been awarded the Visit Wales Gold Award.

This award is given to attractions that make an exceptional effort to create an enjoyable and memorable experience for visitors.

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Green Flag Award

Bwlch Nant yr Arian Visitor Centre has been awarded the Green Flag Award.

The award - delivered in Wales by Keep Wales Tidy - is a sign that a park or green space boasts the highest possible environmental standards, is beautifully maintained and has excellent visitor facilities.

For more information about the Green Flag, go to the Keep Wales Tidy website.

National Forest for Wales

Bwlch Nant yr Arian forms part of the National Forest for Wales.

The National Forest will:

  • create areas of new woodland
  • enhance existing woodlands
  • restore Wales’ irreplaceable ancient woodlands

It will form a connected ecological network running throughout Wales, bringing social, economic and environmental benefits.

Parts of the network will eventually form a trail running the length and breadth of Wales, so anyone can access it wherever they live.

For more information go to the National Forest for Wales website.

Visiting safely

We want you to return home safely after your visit here.

You are responsible for your own safety as well as the safety of any children and animals with you during your visit.

For advice and tips to help you plan your visit here go to Visiting our places safely.

Accessibility information

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.

Other facilities include:

  • parking for Blue Badge holders
  • wheelchair access to the visitor centre and café
  • accessible toilets
  • facilities for the hearing impaired in café
  • courtesy wheelchair

Dogs

We welcome dogs at Bwlch Nant yr Arian.

You can take your dog with you when you use our walking, running and mountain bike trails but you must keep it on a lead or under close control.

Dogs are allowed in the shop, inside the café and on the decking area outside the café.

Please pick up after your dog. There are free dog poo bags at several dispensers around the visitor centre and you can dispose of the bagged poo in any refuse bin on site.

For a safe and happy visit with your dog, and to avoid causing problems for others, please follow the Dog Walking Code.

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.

Opening times

Please check the top of this webpage for any changes to these opening times or check the Bwlch Nant yr Arian Facebook page for the latest information.

  • The visitor centre is open from 11am to 4pm seven days a week (except Christmas day, Boxing day and New Year's day)
  • The café is open from 11am to 3pm seven days a week (except Christmas day, Boxing day and New Year's day).
  • The shop is open from 11am to 4pm 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

Changes to visitor facilities

See the top of this webpage for details of any planned closures or other changes to visitor facilities here or check the Bwlch Nant yr Arian Facebook page for the latest information.

We may divert or close trails whilst we undertake maintenance work or other operations and we may need to close other visitor facilities temporarily.

For your safety, always follow instructions from staff and signs including those for trail diversions or closures.

Extreme weather information

In extreme weather such as snow, ice or high winds:

  • We may close the car park, visitor centre and other facilities at short notice due to the risk of injury to visitors and staff.
  • The car park and the approach road to it may be icy - you should expect to be driving on slippery surfaces as soon as you leave the A44.
  • All trail surfaces may be slippery especially if there is ice under the snow - we do not treat any of the trails around the visitor centre or in the forest park.

How to get here

Bwlch Nant yr Arian Visitor Centre is 9 miles east of Aberystwyth.

Postcode

The postcode is SY23 3AB.

Please note that this postcode may not take you to the car park if you use a sat nav or navigation app.

We suggest you follow the directions below or use the Google map on this page which has a pin on the car park’s location.

Directions

Take the A44 from Aberystwyth towards Llangurig.

After 9 miles, the visitor centre car park is signposted on the left.

 

What3Words

 View this place on the What3Words website.

Ordnance Survey

The Ordnance Survey (OS) grid reference for the car park is SN 718 812 (Explorer Map 213).

Public transport

The nearest mainline railway station is Aberystwyth.

The X47 bus between Aberystwyth and Llanidloes will stop on request at the entrance to the car park.

For public transport information go to the Traveline Cymru website.

Parking

Overnight parking is not permitted.

Parking charges

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

How to pay

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

The ticket machine in the bottom car park takes coins and cards. The ticket machine in the top car park only takes coins.

The ticket machines do not give change so please make sure you have the correct money if you want to pay with cash.

Annual car parking pass

You can buy an annual car parking pass for £30 from the ticket machine in the bottom car park or from the shop in the visitor centre.

Contact the visitor centre

0300 065 5470

bnya@naturalresourceswales.gov.uk

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

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