Bwlch Nant yr Arian Visitor Centre, near Aberystwyth

What's here

Coronavirus update


The car park, trails and most visitor facilities are now open but we have made some adjustments to allow social distancing.


The café is offering a take-away service only.



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.  

Walking trails

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

Barcud Trail (includes Animal Puzzle Trail and Elenydd Trail)

Family on Barcud Trail

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.

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.

Ridgetop Trail

Walkers on 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.

Mountain bike trails 

All of the mountain bike 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.

Arian Trail

  • Grade: Forest Road and Similar
  • Distance: 7.9 kilometres
  • Total climb: 160 metres (maximum gradient: 12%)
  • Time: ¾ – 1½ hours
  • Trail information: This is a relatively low-level route on forest roads with no singletrack sections but it includes a section along a public road circling the lake. There is a short, steepish climb on your return. Please be aware of vehicles and ride with due care and consideration for other users.

The Arian Trail takes you to the picturesque Blaenmelindwr lake.

It is a trail for all the family to enjoy.

Melindwr Trail

Grade: blue/moderate

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.

Pendam Trail

Grade: red (difficult)

Distance: 9 kilometres

Climb: 220m

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.

Summit Trail

Grade: red (difficult)

Distance: 18 kilometres

Climb: 515m

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.

Syfydrin Trail

Grade: black (severe)

Distance: 35 kilometres

Climb: 670m

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.

Parc Sgiliau (skills park)

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.

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 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.

Y Fuwch Trail

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.

Horse riding trail

Mynydd March Trail

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.

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


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 kite

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

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
  • There is no charge to watch the red kite feeding. 

Play areas

Children in play area

There 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 backpack

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.

Find out more about the discovery backpacks.



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

It offers a takeaway service.

The café is open seven days a week from 10am to 5pm (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.

Accessibility information

Family on Barcud Trail

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:

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


We welcome dogs at Bwlch Nant yr Arian.

Dogs are allowed on the walking, running and mountain bike trails but must be on a lead or under close control.

Dogs are allowed in the shop and on the decking area outside the café but they are not currently allowed inside 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.

National Forest for Wales

Bwlch Nant yr Arian Forest 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.

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

For more information about the National Forest for Wales go to the Welsh Government website

Closures and diversions

  • 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

Please check the top of this page for any changes to these 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.

It is in the county of Ceredigion.

Ordnance Survey map

Bwlch Nant yr Arian Forest Visitor Centre is on Ordnance Survey (OS) map 213.

The OS grid reference is SN 717 813.

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.


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:

  • £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.

Overnight parking is not permitted.

Contact details

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

0300 065 5470

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