The Arch, near Aberystwyth
Walks through huge beech trees with views over...
The Hafod Estate was designed in the late eighteenth century by Thomas Johnes and it soon became an essential destination for visitors touring Wales in search of “wild nature”.
The walking trails explore this historic landscape which varies widely in character from grazed parkland and different types of woodland to the River Ystwyth gorge with its bridges and waterfalls.
Johnes built a new house in this remote location and laid out its grounds in the Picturesque style which was fashionable at the time.
He designed the walks so that visitors could enjoy the landscape as an ever-changing sequence of views.
Today the mansion has gone and Hafod lies within a working forest.
There are five walking trails of varying length and difficulty waymarked from the main car park.
They include the two classic circular routes created by Thomas Johnes in his first years at Hafod - the strenuous Gentleman’s Walk and the gentler Lady’s Walk.
These two historic trails take you past Picturesque features like the Cavern Cascade, Rustic Bridge, Tunnel and Mossy Seat Falls.
You can also visit the church, Eglwys Newydd, built by Johnes in 1803 and the only substantial structure surviving from that time. Today it is home to an exhibition about the history of the estate.
There are picnic areas in the main car park and by the river on the Lady’s Walk and portaloos in the main car park.
The walking trails are waymarked from the main Hafod car park.
Please read the trail descriptions to make sure you pick a walk that is suitable for you.
Highlights: Take in the views over Hafod and beyond from the obelisk viewpoint.
Distance: 1 mile/1.6 kilometres
Trail description: This circular route is the shortest and most accessible walk from the car park.
It does a circuit of Cefn Creigiau ridge and avoids the steep descent to the valley floor. It is not one of Johnes’ historical circuits, but it goes to a moment erected in 1805 to commemorate the fifth Duke of Bedford.
Highlights: Admire the bluebells and azaleas in spring, and views over the estate to the hills beyond.
Distance: ¾ mile/1.2 kilometres one way (1½ miles/2.4 kilometres there and back via suggested return route)
Trail description: A linear (one way) walk through the woodland. You need to choose a return route using other walks or estate drives (a suggested return route is marked on the map).
The Coed Hafod Walk passes through different types of woodland that are home to a great variety of wildlife. In spring the woodlands are colourful with bluebells and yellow azaleas. This relatively gentle trail has views to the river, the mansion fields and pond, and distant hills.
Highlights: Experience the dramatic River Ystwyth gorge from the Chain Bridge, especially after heavy rain.
Distance: 1 mile/1.6 kilometres (2 miles/3.2 kilometres total distance from car park and back via Lady’s Walk to starting point)
Trail description: The quickest way to access the Ystwyth Gorge Walk is to follow the Lady’s Walk clockwise past the church to where its starting point is signposted.
This spectacular route takes you on a long, narrow loop up one side of the Ystwyth gorge and down the other. Despite the dramatic scenery along the walk, the gradients are for the most part fairly gentle, but there are steep drops beside the path.
Highlights: Follow this historical route past a waterfall and key features of Thomas Johnes’s estate.
Distance: 2¼ miles/3.6 kilometres
Trail description: The Lady’s Walk is one of the two classic circular routes created by Thomas Johnes in his first years at Hafod and described by many early visitors.
It takes in scenery that varies widely in character, contrasting the undulating landscape of grazed parkland with narrow wooded valleys and rushing streams. Along the route, there is a choice between the Garden Walk – a narrow but fairly level woodland path that passes through the Flower Garden – or the meadow path that continues along the riverside.
Highlights: Marvel at Picturesque features like the Rustic Bridge, Tunnel and Mossy Seat Falls on this historic trail. Please note that the Cavern Cascade cave is closed for safety reasons.
Distance: 3¾ miles/6 kilometres (5¾ miles/9 kilometres total distance from car park and back via Lady’s Walk to starting point)
Trail description: The Gentleman’s Walk is the second Picturesque circuit created by Johnes, passes through wilder scenery and steeper ground than the other walks at Hafod.
To reach the starting point, you need to follow the Lady’s Walk anticlockwise. The Gentleman’s Walk is the most strenuous of the Hafod Walks, and you should be reasonably fit with footwear suitable for steep and uneven ground.
Please note: The Cavern Cascade cave is closed due to safety reasons. We are working with the Hafod Trust to look at how we can repair this protected feature. The cave will be re-opened to the public once it has been made safe.
The leaflet and walks guide contains a map and description of all the walks.
You can use the network of Public Rights of Way at the Hafod Estate. See Ordnance Survey Explorer map 213 for more information.
Most of the waymarked trails interconnect and so you can create your own route or shorten (or lengthen) some of the trails by following link paths and trackways.
Make sure you download a walks guide with a map of all the walks or pick up a copy from the dispenser in the main car park before setting off.
There is disabled only parking at Mrs Johnes Flower Garden.
From here, you can access a gentle walk around the garden with views over the river Ystwyth and a riverside picnic site.
There is an accessible portaloo in the main car park (next to the church).
We manage the estate together with the Hafod Trust to conserve and restore the historic landscape and to provide access for visitors.
The Hafod Landscape: an illustrated history and guide by Jennifer Macve is available from local shops or from the Hafod Trust website.
This booklet includes the estate’s history, its importance to the Picturesque style, its recent restoration, and detailed descriptions of the walks.
Contact the Hafod Trust:
The Hafod Estate is 16 miles south east of Aberystwyth.
It is in the county of Ceredigion.
There are brown signs from Devil’s Bridge via the B4574 to the main Hafod car park.
Take the B4574 from Devils Bridge to Cymystwyth.
After 2½ miles turn right at a triangular junction.
Follow this road, bearing right for another mile.
The car park is on the left, just after the church.
The Hafod Estate is on OS Explorer map 213.
The OS grid reference is SN 768 736.
The nearest mainline railway station is Aberystwyth.
For details of public transport visit Traveline Cymru's website.
The car park is next to the church and is free of charge.
Overnight parking is not permitted.