Lying at the head of a beautiful valley, Bwlch Nant yr Arian Forest offers waymarked paths, daily red kite feeding and lots of wintry events preceding Christmas. This walk features scenery that’s especially pretty in winter, and ends at the lake where red kites are fed every afternoon.
1 Panoramic views
From the highest part of the car park, take a path signed with a red footprint on a white background, which heads uphill with panoramic views all around.The Plynlimon hills lie north-east and on its swampy slopes, rebel Owain Glyndwr and his small army, although outnumbered, defeated the Anglo-Flemish troops from Pembrokeshire at the Battle of Mynydd Hyddgen in 1401.
In more recent times, George Borrow, Norfolk-born linguist and author of Wild Wales, passed close to Bwlch Nant Arian on his walking tour of Wales in 1854. A guide escorted him through the wild terrain to Ponterwyd’s Inn, now called George Borrow’s Hotel.
The undulating ridge offers seats at several viewpoints then, after a footbridge and steep rise, makes a long descent through larch trees to a track junction.
2 Local legend
Turn left and soon take a left-hand narrow path, with the red footprint, which runs above the deep valley. It follows the leat that once carried water to lead mines. According to local legend, fairies known as Knockers made knocking noises to guide the miners to sources of the ore.
On reaching a left-hand path with a yellow footprint, follow it to the ridge. Turn left but soon go right, tracing the yellow markers downhill to Llywernog Pond, where you bear right to a fork at another lake.
3 Kite feeding
Here you can go left to the Kite Hide near the red kite feeding area, or go ahead to a superb kite viewing point on the opposite side of the lake, underneath the visitor centre.
At feeding time, these magnificent birds wheel around above the lake before plummeting to grab pieces of meat from the ground with their talons. In the depths of winter, up to 100 birds gather here to feed.
Kite feeding takes place at 2pm this month and there are other events on specific dates, such as the free Winter Tree
ID walk on the 20 November, where you can learn how to identify the magnificent trees without their leaves.
Families with young children can discover how to create beautiful Christmas decorations for the home, using natural materials sourced from the forest on 4 and 5 December. Or, you can get the kids excited with a self-guided walk to Santa’s Grotto on 18 and 19 December.
HOW TO GET THERE
Bwlch Nant yr Arian Forest Visitor Centre is 10 miles east
of Aberystwyth, between Goginan and Ponterwyd, on
the A44 (car park £1.50).
FIND OUT MORE
Bwlch Nant yr Arian Forest Visitor Centre, Ponterwyd SY23 3AD
Capel Bangor, Aberystwyth SY23 3LR
This village pub is known for its excellent food. It also has the smallest commercial brewery in the world in front of it.
Bwlch Nant yr Arian Forest Visitor Centre Café
Local food in a beautiful setting overlooking the lake where the kites are fed.
George Borrow Hotel Ponterwyd, Aberystwyth
The famous Victorian travel writer stayed here on his walking tour of Wales. Today, this B&B has comfortable en-suite rooms.
Subscribe to BBC Countryfile Magazine today and you can enjoy generous savings from the shop price plus, Free UK delivery and discounts off special editions and back issues.