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Dyfi: Ynyslas National Nature Reserve and Visitor Centre, near Aberystwyth

The stunning landscape of estuary, sea and mountain is home to a remarkable range of habitats

Dunes at Dyfi Ynyslas

What's here

Accessible facilities
Dogs
Parking (accessible)
Parking (charge)
Shop
Toilets
Visitor Centre
Walking trail

Overview

The Dyfi: Ynyslas National Nature Reserve is situated midway between Aberystwyth and Machynlleth.

The 2,000 hectare National Nature Reserve covers three main areas:

  • the Dyfi estuary
  • Ynyslas sand dunes
  • the raised bog of Cors Fochno

Dyfi estuary

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

Ynyslas sand dunes

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

They demonstrate all the stages of dune formation and growth, from sandy shore through vegetated shingle, fore dunes, mobile dunes and fixed dunes to scrub.

They 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.

Cors Fochno

Cors Fochno lies to the south east of the dunes and the River Leri. It is one of the largest and finest remaining examples of a raised peat bog in Britain. 

Its formation started around 5500 BC when part of the estuary floodplain was covered by forest, but as sea levels rose, the forest was replaced by reed swamp and then peat bog. The bog’s surface today is dominated by a tapestry of gold and red sphagnum mosses. The most westerly part is now eroded by the sea, but at low tide the stumps of long dead trees can still be seen on the beach near Borth.

Many rare and unusual species live here including insectivorous plants like sundews, the rosy marsh moth and small red damselfly.

Visiting Dyfi: Ynyslas

Ynyslas is the main access point to the National Nature Reserve.

The visitor centre and small shop is open Easter until the end of September.

There is a 500 metre boardwalk from the visitor centre across the dunes to the beach and a shell path from the visitor centre to a boardwalk across the dunes to the beach.

There is also a footpath from the caravan park to the shell path where it joins the boardwalk.

Quality Assured Visitor AttractionThe 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.

Visitor facilities at Ynyslas include:

  • hot and cold drinks and snacks available at the visitor centre
  • mobile ice-cream and drinks vendor in the car park during the summer
  • guided walks and events in the summer
  • toilets (open Easter to September)

 

Please note:

  • Educational groups are welcome, but are asked to contact us by email before visiting
  • The beach at the reserve has a red flag for bathing due to the dangerous strong tidal currents. This means that swimming is not allowed
  • Cors Fochno is not open to visitors due to its treacherous nature. However, there is a 1.5 kilometre circular boardwalk route around the edge of the bog and the Wales Coast Path runs along the southern and eastern fringe of the bog between Borth and Tre Taliesin

Discovery backpack

Discovery backpackYou 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 visitor centre is open until Sunday 24 September.

Find out more about the discovery backpacks.

Closures and diversions

Please note:

  • 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 onsite and make sure you follow any temporary diversion signs in place

Walking trails

Two waymarked circular walks start from the beach car park at Ynyslas.

Dune Walk

1¼ miles, 2 kilometres

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

Ynyslas Walk

2½ miles, 4 kilometres

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

DyfiNNR Ynyslas Dunes

Download more information about the two Ynyslas Walks

Cors Fochno Walk

1 mile, 1.5 kilometres

Follow the circular boardwalk around Cors Fochno to get a good flavour of its special habitats

  • Visitors are strongly advised to heed the safety information on the sign at the second gate
  • No dogs are allowed on the boardwalk

DyfiNNR Cors Fochno

Download more information about the Cors Fochno Walk

Seasonal highlights

During the year look out for changes to the landscape and wildlife.

Read on to find out what you could see here during the different seasons.

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 Reserve

Dyfi: Ynyslas is a National Nature Reserve.

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

There are over 70 National Nature Reserves in Wales.

Find out more about National Nature Reserves.

Accessibility information

There is a small car park for disabled visitors only beside the main access road to Ynyslas, 30 metres south of the beach car park. 

There is access from the disabled visitors car park via a hard surfaced track and wooden ramp suitable for wheelchairs to the Ynyslas Visitor Centre.

The toilets at Ynyslas Visitor Centre are accessible (open Easter to September).

Opening times

Ynyslas Visitor Centre is open daily between 9am and 5pm from Easter until the end of September.

The toilets are open from 9am until dusk from Easter until the end of September.

How to get here 

Download the location map

Ynyslas sand dunes

Ynyslas is two kilometres north of Borth on the B4353.

The OS grid reference is SN 640 955.

The car park is on tidal sands which are covered by seawater on high spring tides.

Car parking costs £2.

Cors Fochno

The track to Cors Fochno is on the south side of the B4353 three kilometres from Tre’r-ddol. Go through the gate at the start of the track (please close it after driving through) and the parking area is 800 metres along the track. 

The boardwalk around the bog starts from the parking area.

Car parking is very limited and is free of charge.

The OS grid reference is SN 636 926.

Public transport

The nearest train station is in Borth.

There is a bus service from Aberystwyth to Tre’r-ddol, which goes via Borth and Ynyslas. For details of public transport visit www.traveline.cymru

Find out more

Contact details

Tel: 01970 872901 (Easter to end September) or 0300 065 3000 (October to Easter)

Email: ynyslas@cyfoethnaturiolcymru.gov.uk

Related document downloads

Dyfi NNR Location map Dyfi National Nature Reserve location map November 2015 PDF [1.3 MB]
Ynyslas Walks Walking trails PDF [2.3 MB]
Cors Fochno Walk Walking trail PDF [1.4 MB]

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