Black Covert Woodland, near Aberystwyth
Sheltered picnic site with riverside walk
Red kite feeding, family fun and trails for walking, running and mountain biking
This site and some visitor facilities are open - please see more details on this web page.
The following facilities are closed:
The Barcud Trail circular walk around the lake is only open part of the way due to maintenance work until the end of November.
The Welsh Government is implementing a national coronavirus firebreak from 6pm on Friday 23 October until Monday 9 November.
The firebreak regulations replace the local restrictions which were in force in some parts of the country. They apply to everyone living or travelling in Wales.
Our sites and most visitor facilities remain open during this firebreak period but people are advised to stay at home and only visit sites in the local area to take exercise.
Visiting your local site safely
We have changed the normal route for some of our trails to help you maintain social distancing – please follow signs on site.
You need to wear a mask when going inside one of our buildings.
You can check-in via the NHS app when entering one of our buildings – scan the QR-code on the NHS Covid-19 poster on site.
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.
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.
All of the walking trails are waymarked and start from the visitor centre.
⅔ mile, 1.2 kilometres, 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.
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.
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.
All 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.
Loop 1: 1.85 kilometres/climb 75 metres
Loops 1 & 2: 5 kilometres/climb 110 metres
The Melindwr Trail opened in October 2019. It 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.
Grade: red (difficult)
Distance: 9 kilometres
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.
Grade: red (difficult)
Distance: 18 kilometres
Grade: black (severe)
Distance: 35 kilometres
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.
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.
3.1 miles, 5 kilometres, moderate
6.5 miles, 10.4 kilometres, strenuous
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.
6 ¾ 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.
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.
The 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.
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 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.
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.
Other facilities include:
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.
The circular walk around the lake (the Barcud Trail) is only open part of the way due to maintenance work until the end of November 2020.
Please check the top of this page for any changes to these opening times.
Bwlch Nant yr Arian Forest Visitor Centre is nine miles east of Aberystwyth on the A44.
It is in the county of Ceredigion.
Bwlch Nant yr Arian Forest Visitor Centre is on Ordnance Survey (OS) map 213.
The OS grid reference is SN 717 813.
Please pay at the ticket machine in the car park on arrival.
The ticket machine takes cards and coins. It does not give change.
Car parking costs:
You can buy an annual car parking pass for £30 from the visitor centre or café.
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.
Bwlch Nant yr Arian Visitor Centre, Ponterwyd, Aberystwyth SY23 3AB
0300 065 5470