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Red kite feeding, family fun and trails for walking, running and mountain biking
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.
The visitor centre is the starting point for a range of waymarked trails for walkers, mountain bikers, runners and horse riders.
It is well-known for its long established tradition of daily feeding of red kites, Wales’s National Bird of Prey.
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.
The range of trails includes:
All of the walking trails are waymarked and start from the visitor centre.
⅔ mile, 1.2 kilometre, 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.
3 miles, 5 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.
See our mountain biking page for a list of all our mountain bike trails and information about grading to make sure you pick a trail that is right for you.
Please also read the relevant on-site information before setting off on your ride.
5.6 miles, 9 kilometres, Grade Red/Difficult
11 miles, 18 kilometres, Grade Red/Difficult
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.
22 miles, 35 kilometres, Grade Black/Severe
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.
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.
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 and please be aware of other trail users.
Both of these trails require a reasonable level of ﬁtness.
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.
6.5 miles, 10.4 kilometres, difficult
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.
6.5 miles, 10.5 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.
The forest at Bwlch Nant yr Arian welcomes many types of recreation user so be prepared to meet mountain bikers, walkers and runners.
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.
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.
Bwlch Nant yr Arian is famous for its red kites.
It became a red kite feeding station in 1999 as part of a programme to protect the small number of red kites in the area then.
Nowadays, the red kites are fed by the lake every day at 2pm in winter (GMT) and at 3pm in summer (BST).
The Barcud Trail (an easy access route around the lake) and the café offer fantastic views of this spectacle.
You can also watch the red kites from the bird hide overlooking the feeding area.
You can expect to see as many as 150 kites coming in to feed – there are often more during winter months.
They are mostly local birds and they come to feed from within a 10 mile radius.
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.
Bwlch Nant yr Arian Forest Visitor Centre is nine miles east of Aberystwyth on the A44.
The OS grid reference is SN 717 813.
Please pay at the ticket machine in the car park on arrival.
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
Tel: 01970 890453
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