The Arch, near Aberystwyth
Walks through huge beech trees with views over...
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 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, Wales’s National Bird of Prey.
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 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.
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.
The Barcud Trail 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.
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 with 12,000 native trees, before heading down to the lake and back to the visitor centre.
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.
All our mountain bike trails are waymarked from start to finish and have been graded for difficulty.
At the start of the trails there is an information panel – please read this before setting off.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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 forms part of the National Forest for Wales.
The National Forest will:
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.
Please check the top of this page for any changes to these opening times.
Bwlch Nant yr Arian Forest Visitor Centre is nine miles east of Aberystwyth on the A44.
It is in the county of Ceredigion.
Bwlch Nant yr Arian Forest Visitor Centre is on Ordnance Survey (OS) map 213.
The OS grid reference is SN 717 813.
For satellite navigation, the postcode is SY23 3AB.
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.
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:
You can buy an annual car parking pass for £30 from the visitor centre or café.
Overnight parking is not permitted.
Bwlch Nant yr Arian Visitor Centre, Ponterwyd, Aberystwyth SY23 3AB