Dyfi National Nature Reserve - Ynyslas Visitor Centre, near Aberystwyth

What's here

Welcome

Ynyslas is part of the Dyfi National Nature Reserve, situated midway between Aberystwyth and Machynlleth.

The superb dunes of Ynyslas are at the southern side of Dyfi estuary and are the largest dunes in Ceredigion.

The estuary has vast areas of internationally important mudflats, sandbanks and saltmarsh that provide feeding and roosting areas for wetland birds.

There are far-reaching views over the estuary towards Aberdyfi but, even though this town looks so close, it is a 45 minute drive around the estuary from Ynyslas.

Explore the dunes and seashore on the walking trails from the beach car park. or simply follow your nose and take in the wide open spaces, spectacular views and the sounds of wind, sea and birds.

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Ynyslas Visitor Centre

The visitor centre is the ideal place to start your visit.

It has an exhibition about what to see at the reserve, and a shop selling hot and cold drinks, snacks, books and local produce.

The toilets are in the visitor centre building.

The visitor centre has been accredited as a Quality Assured Visitor Attraction by Visit Wales.  The Visit Wales Quality Marque is awarded to attractions that have been independently assessed against the national standards of the Visitor Attraction Quality Assurance Scheme.

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Walking trails

The walking trails are waymarked from start to finish.

There are information panels about the walking trails in the visitor centre and in the car park.

Find out about walking trail grades.

Dune Walk

  • Grade: Easy
  • Distance: 1¼ miles/2.1 kilometres
  • Time: 30 minutes - 1 hour

Stride through the ever-changing dunes and along the seashore, with stunning displays of flowers in spring and summer and colourful fungi in autumn.

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Ynyslas Walk

  • Grade: Easy
  • Distance: 2¾ miles/4.3 kilometres
  • Time: 1¼ – 2 hours

Experience a rich variety of habitat including sand dunes, seashore, farmland and then saltmarsh, with stunning views of the estuary.

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What to see at the National Nature Reserve

Ynyslas is part of the Dyfi National Nature Reserve.

This 2,000 hectare reserve also includes the Dyfi estuary and Cors Fochno.

Ynyslas dunes demonstrate all the stages of dune formation and growth and are home to a rich population of orchids, mosses, liverworts, fungi, insects and spiders; many of these species are rare and some are unknown elsewhere in Britain.

The landscape and wildlife varies at Ynyslas depending on which time of year you visit – read on to find out what to look out for.

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Spring

As the weather warms up, there are spring flowers in the dunes and flowering cotton grass on the raised bog.

You may catch a glimpse of one of the many reptiles that live here such as the common lizard, sand lizard, adder and grass snake. The Welsh vernal mining bee is also active during the spring.

There is plenty of birdsong to enjoy, too, from the likes of skylarks, linnets, chiffchaffs and willow warbler. In the evening, nightjars can be heard.

Summer

Summer brings a varied display of flowers to the reserve.  Marsh and bee orchids appear in the early summer in the dune slacks (the wet areas of the dunes) followed by pyramidal orchids. There are also colourful saltmarsh flowers, sea pink, sea aster, sea spurrey and, in late summer, marsh helleborine.

Butterflies and day-flying moths fill the air, while dragonflies dart around the raised bog.

You might spot wildlife like osprey and otter on the estuary.

Autumn

The autumn colours are rich and varied on the raised bog which is dressed in a range of russet red colours. 

Fungi including waxcaps, earth stars, puffballs and bird’s nest fungi add to the colourful display.

Migrating waders can be seen in the estuary.

Winter

During the winter months, the Dyfi estuary is home to wintering wildfowl while, on the beach, you may see waders, sanderling and golden plover.

Keep your eyes peeled for hunting birds of prey over the bog. Look out for:

  • red kites
  • buzzards
  • hen harriers
  • merlins
  • peregrine falcons

You might also catch sight of the Greenland white-fronted goose: this is its only locality throughout Wales and England.

National Nature Reserves in Wales

There are over 70 National Nature Reserves in Wales.

National Nature Reserves are places with some of the very finest examples of wildlife habitats and geological features. 

Find out more about National Nature Reserves.

Ceredigion Coast Path

Ynyslas is the start or end point of the Ceredigion Coast Path.

Much of the Ceredigion Coast Path follows the same route as the Wales Coast Path.

These two paths diverge at Borth and the Ceredigion Coast Path continues to the estuary and sand dunes of Ynyslas.

For more information about the Ceredigion Coast Path go to the Discover Ceredigion website.

Green Flag Award

Ynyslas 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.

Dogs

Keep dogs under control and do not let them chase birds along the tide line. 

Keep all dogs on leads:

  • within the grazing enclosures from October through to the end of March (these fenced areas have signs indicating the presence of sheep)
  • near the roped-off areas (due to ground-nesting birds)

Please pick up after your dog and use the dog bins provided. 

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

Swimming

Swimming and inflatables are not allowed.

The beach has a red flag for bathing due to the dangerous strong tidal currents.

School visits

Educational groups are welcome, but are asked to contact us by email before visiting.

Discovery backpacks

You can borrow a discovery backpack from the visitor centre.

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.

Accessibility information

  • There is a small car park for Blue Badge holders only beside the main access road to Ynyslas, 30 metres south of the beach car park. 
  • There is access from the Blue Badge holders car park via a hard surfaced track and wooden ramp suitable for wheelchairs to the Ynyslas Visitor Centre.
  • A 300m section of the Dune Walk from the visitor centre to the main dune slack is accessible. The rest of the trails are not accessible due to soft sand and mud.
  • The toilets at Ynyslas Visitor Centre are accessible.

Opening times

Please check the top of this page or our Facebook page for any changes to these opening times.

Ynyslas Visitor Centre is open daily from 9.30am to 4pm.

The nature reserve and walking trails are open all year round.

The car park is open all year round but is dependant upon high tide levels - see parking information below.

The toilets are open daily from 9am to 4.30pm.

Closures and diversions

Sometimes we need to close or divert trails for your safety whilst we undertake maintenance work or other operations.

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 any temporary diversion signs

How to get here 

Location

Ynyslas is 14 miles north of Aberystwyth.

It is in the county of Ceredigion.

Ordnance Survey map

Ynyslas is on Ordnance Survey (OS) map OL 23.

The OS grid reference is SN 609 941.

Directions

Take the A487 from Aberystwyth towards Machynlleth.

In Tre'r-ddol turn left onto the B4353.

After 3½ miles, turn right and follow the minor road alongside the dunes and golf course to the car park.

The car park is on the beach and it is flooded in high tides.

Please note tide times on car park entrance sign

Public transport

The nearest mainline railway station is in Borth.

For details of public transport go to Traveline Cymru's website.

Parking

The car park is on the beach and it is flooded during high tides.

  • High tides happen frequently and the time of the high tide varies.
  • The sign at the car park entrance states If a high tide is due, at what time and for how long.
  • If a high tide is due, you must move your car out of the car park before the time on the sign.
  • If you are travelling a long way to visit Ynyslas, we recommend you contact the visitor centre in advance to check if the car park will be affected by high tides.

Overnight parking is not permitted.

Parking charges

  • £3 per day
  • £30 for an annual season ticket
  • Free for Blue Badge holders (please display your badge in your vehicle)
  • Free for local residents (see note below)

Pay the car park attendant on arrival by cash or card.

If the car park is unstaffed please pay in the visitor centre after parking your vehicle.

Free parking for local residents

Local residents can apply for a free parking pass.

To find out if your address is within the qualifying area, please ring the visitor centre or ask the car park attendant on arrival.

You will need to show proof of address such as a driving licence or recent utilities bill to get your free parking pass.

Please note that the pass for residents is valid for a year from issue and you will need to reapply each year.

Contact the visitor centre

01970 872901

ynyslas@cyfoethnaturiolcymru.gov.uk

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