Bwlch Nant yr Arian Visitor Centre, near Aberystwyth

What's here

Forest Operations: Preparatory forest work has begun at the bottom of the Leg Burner and is affecting the Syfydrin and Summit Trails, heavy vehicles will be using the forest roads. Ride with care.

 

Please wear a face covering in the visitor centre, shop and toilets, in accordance with Welsh Government guidance.

Welcome

Bwlch Nant yr Arian Visitor Centre is perched on a dramatic hilltop, straddling the boundary between the lowlands and uplands, 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.

There is a range of waymarked trails for walkers, mountain bikers and runners.

Remnants of the lead mining industry are still visible along the trails but today bilberry and heather cover the hills whilst majestic red kites circle above.

There is also a skills park with a purpose-built track for mountain bikers to practice their technique and a waymarked trail for horse riders.

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.  

Bwlch Nant yr Arian visitor centre video

Walking trails

The walking trails are waymarked from start to finish.

Look out for the information panel at the start of the trails.

Find out about walking trail grades.

Barcud Trail (includes Animal Puzzle Trail and Elenydd Trail)

  • Grade: Accessible
  • Distance: ⅔ mile/1.2 kilometres
  • Max gradient: 10%
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Trail information: This circular, level route is suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs.

The Barcud Trail first hugs the northern edge of the lake, while the other side takes you through a mixture of woodland trees and open vistas.

“Barcud Coch” means red kite in Welsh and you will get the best view of the daily red kite feeding spectacle along this trail, either from inside the kite hide or at the kite viewpoint. Follow the posts along the trail to discover fascinating facts about the red kite or call in at the hide to find out more about wildlife on the lake.

The Animal Puzzle Trail follows this path, too - 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.

Family on Barcud Trail

Miners Trail

  • Grade: Moderate
  • Distance: 1½ miles/2.4 kilometres
  • Climb: 60 metres
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Trail information: The trail is on well-defined paths with waymarker posts at every junction. It has long and steep climbs and descents. The surfaces are generally in good condition but may be rough and wet in places and parts of the trails are very exposed to the weather. We recommend that you wear walking shoes with a good grip and adequate clothing for the weather.

Follow the waymarkers from the viewpoint down to an old mining leat.

At the next junction bear right up the hill and onto the ridgetop.

Walk towards our Giant’s Chair, a great place to take in the view.

From here drop down across a forest road and into an area which has recently been planted with 12,000 native trees.

Head down towards the lake and then back to the visitor centre.

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Ridgetop Trail

  • Grade: Moderate
  • Distance: 3 miles/5 kilometres
  • Climb: 80 metres
  • Time: 3 hours
  • Trail information: The trail is on well-defined paths with waymarker posts at every junction. It has long and steep climbs and descents. The surfaces are generally in good condition but may be rough and wet in places and parts of the trails are very exposed to the weather. We recommend that you wear walking shoes with a good grip and adequate clothing for the weather.

The longest of our waymarked trails, with magnificent views making every step worthwhile.

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.

Bear left at the next junction and then join the narrow leat path which will bring you back to the car park.

Walkers on Ridgetop Trail

Mountain bike trails 

All our mountain bike trails are waymarked from start to finish and have been graded for difficulty.

At the start of the trail there is an information panel – please read this before setting off.

Arian Trail

  • Grade: Forest Road and Similar
  • Distance: 7.9 kilometres
  • Climb: 160 metres (maximum gradient: 12%)
  • Time: 45 minutes – 1½ hours

The Arian Trail is one for all the family to enjoy.

This forest road trail takes you to the picturesque Blaenmelindwr lake.

It’s a relatively low-level route on forest roads with no singletrack sections, but includes a section along a public road circling the lake.

Please be aware of vehicles and ride with due care and consideration for other users.

There is a short steepish climb on your return.

Melindwr Trail

  • Grade: Blue (moderate)
  • Loop 1: 1.85 kilometres/climb 75 metres
  • Loops 1 & 2: 5 kilometres/climb 110 metres

The Melindwr Trail 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: 10.2 kilometres
  • Climb: 200 metres
  • Time: 1-2 hours

Mastered the Melindwr Trail? The Pendam Trail strings together some of the best flowing sections in Nant yr  Arian with relatively short climbs.

With sections like ‘Italian Job’, ‘Hippity Hop’ and a fun final decent on ‘High as a Kite’, it’s a real blast! 

Summit Trail

  • Grade: Red (difficult)
  • Distance: 18.5 kilometres
  • Climb: 440  metres
  • Time: 1½ – 2½ hours

Summit is the longer more challenging red-grade trail which weaves its way through the forest and takes you out onto the exposed moorland.

‘Mark of Zorro’ gives a fantastic long descent, well worth the following climb up the ‘Leg Burner’.

Watch out for other users, especially horse riders, and please leave gates as you find them.

Syfydrin Trail

  • Grade: Black (severe)
  • Distance: 36 kilometres
  • Climb: 750 metres
  • Time: 3-5 hours

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.

It is a long and challenging ride in exposed and remote countryside, so go equipped for any eventuality, including plenty to eat and drink, spares, tools and clothing.

Make sure someone knows where you are going and when you expect to be back. It is safer riding with others.

Much of the route is on technical doubletrack, which is used by 4x4s, motorbikes, horse riders and walkers. Some of it is used as a waymarked horse riding route. Please ride with due care and consideration of other users. Please leave gates as you find them.

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.

Skills park video

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

  • Grade: Moderate
  • Distance: 3.1 miles/5 kilometres
  • Climb: 90 metres
  • Time: 30-45 minutes

This 5 kilometre trail starts off with a flat section for almost 2 kilometres before climbing up onto the ridge and back to the car park.

Y Fuwch Trail

  • Grade: Strenuous
  • Distance: 6½ miles/10.4 kilometres
  • Climb: 240 metres
  • Time: 1-1½ hours

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

  • Distance: 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
  • There is a corral near the parking area. Please use the corral sensibly and safely - think of other users and tie your horse up securely.
  • The forest at Bwlch Nant yr Arian welcomes many types of recreation user so be prepared to meet mountain bikers, walkers and runners

Orienteering

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 and on the posts along the Barcud Trail
  • 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.

All of the play equipment is of robust timber construction which blends in with the forest surroundings.

Toddlers play area

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.

Dizzy Heights Play Area

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.

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.

Café

Cafe

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).

Shop

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:

  • parking for Blue Badge holders
  • wheelchair access to the visitor centre and café
  • accessible toilets
  • facilities for the hearing impaired in café
  • courtesy wheelchair

Dogs

We welcome dogs at Bwlch Nant yr Arian.

You can take your dog with you when you use our walking, running and mountain bike trails but you must keep it 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

Location

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.

Satellite navigation (sat nav)

For satellite navigation, the postcode is SY23 3AB.

Public transport

The nearest mainline railway 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 go to the Traveline Cymru website.

Parking

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

bnya@naturalresourceswales.gov.uk

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