Things to see and do
Nice things to look for in the garden
You may see a hedgehog feeding in the garden at dusk. Tawny owls call from the line of conifers opposite your kitchen window and visit the garden. You may find their pellets on the gate. Buzzards frequently fly overhead. They are nesting in a big tree in the field opposite your lounge window.
A Great Spotted Woodpecker
A Red Kite
Red kites also fly overhead, but seldom make a noise, so you need to be alert for them. They fly low over the bungalow if any of the nearby fields are being cut, so have your cameras ready if you hear tractors.
There are Nuthatches at the peanut feeder. They seem oblivious of humans, so you can walk across the lawn and photograph them while they feed. Look out for Siskins, Coal Tits, Reed Buntings as well as the usual Sparrows, Great Tits, Blue Tits, Green Finches and Gold Finches. Look out for a Jay that has taken to coming for peanuts. You sometimes see a Treecreeper on the apple tree that supports the large peanut feeder just up the lawn from your kitchen and you may spot Goldcrests, Grey Wagtails and Long-tailed Tits down by the pond. Last summer a family of Redstarts with two or three juveniles had been active on the fence and gravel in front of your lounge window. Also in summer the garden plays host to flycatchers and garden warblers.
Nice places to go
Maes Gylfinir is surrounded by beautiful countryside! If you like walking, then there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the views, whether you want to enjoy a leisurely stroll or a full day’s hike. Several gentle walks are possible from the door and make use of the disused railway across the nearby Cors Caron nature reserve or the newly opened Ystwyth trail, which uses the old railway route into Aberystwyth. The semi-level surface and easy gradients are therefore ideal for those with limited walking ability. Other public footpaths lead off the railway route offering circular walks and extensive views of the local mountains.
Longer walks are available from the bungalow or at a short drive. The start of the famous Teifi Pools walk is only 5 miles away and the Pumlumon range is within easy drive.
Ordnance Survey maps and information sheets on local walks are available in the bungalow.
An evening stroll on Cors Caron
View from the newly-opened railway line walk at Cors Caron
The garden gate is at the top of the lawn, diagonally up from your kitchen window. If you walk through the gate and down the lane, you will reach the entrance to the 2000-acre Cors Caron nature reserve. The path follows the course of the railway that was dismantled in 1965. Half a mile from the gate is the bridge over the river, Avon Teifi. The walk along the railway track will lead you eventually to the Cors Caron car park on the road to Tregaron.
The same railway line has now been opened in the opposite direction. Turn right as you enter Cors Caron and you can have a nice walk steadily uphill to the centre of Ystrad Meurig and beyond to the next village of Tynygraig.
The new boardwalk on Cors Caron
There is the main car park for the Cors Caron nature reserve on the road from Pontrhydfendigaid (known locally as 'Bont') to Tregaron. Park, enter the reserve and turn LEFT and walk south for about half a mile. The boardwalk begins with a willow arch and a couple of willow thrones. The willows are growing, and are in full leaf during the summer months. All the lakes are man-made. Look for otters and adders. The boardwalk passes the largest lake, where the swans and Canada geese raise their young.
The whole walk is about a mile and towards the end you will pass under two wooden arches. These are intricately carved with images of the flora and fauna that you can see on Cors Caron. After passing under the two wooden arches you are back on the same railway track. Turn left and retrace your route northwards to the car park.
The river walk on Cors Caron
If you walk NORTH from the Cors Caron car park for about a mile, you will reach a small gate on the left, which opens on to the boardwalk that leads across the bog to the river (Afon Teifi). You can follow the river south; there are several bridges, until you eventually reach the new boardwalk that we just mentioned. Then you can follow the railway track north until you reach the car park. The entire walk takes about 4 hours. Along the way you should stay alert for otters, polecats, water voles and adders. Safety: Do not do this walk in bad weather, or if it has rained a lot recently. If you plan to try this rather long walk, please let Karen and Ian know where you are going and when you plan to return. If you are late returning we will send up the helicopter.
A forest track
A number of forest walks, on land owned by The National Trust, are also available nearby. The nearer sites at Black Covert (map reference SN 666 728) and Coed Tynybedw (map reference SN694 717) are also popular, but quiet, places to stroll. In Tynybedw it is possible to see wild deer, but you have to be very lucky!
Both places are within a ten-minute drive on the way to Aberystwyth.
Drive north from Bont through the villages of Ffair Rhos, Ysbyty Ystwyth and Pontrhydygroes. About ½ mile up the hill from Pontrhydygroes bear right on to the narrow road to Hafod. Continue along this road until you reach Cwmystwyth.
1) Drive about a mile beyond Cwmystwyth, over the cattle grid and park at the Old Mine (map reference 806747). This is the start of a spectacular valley where peregrines hunt. Then drive along the same road as far as the Craig Goch Reservoir. Turn right, down the steep hill and then enjoy your picnic. The AA lists this as one of their top ten most scenic drives.
2) Drive about 2½ miles beyond Cwmystwyth, and park near a white house, called Esgair Wen (map reference 825755). Walk up the steep lane for a couple of hundred yards, and then join a level footpath that heads east. It is very level because this is the course of an old leat that supplied water to a mine. The path runs parallel to the river for about a mile until you reach the remains of the mine. As you walk along, expect to see peregrine falcons hunting overhead. Retrace your steps after you have reached the mine.
Drive through Pontrhydygroes as though you were going to Cwmystwyth, but park in the Forestry Commission car park near Hafod church (map reference 768736).
An aquatint of Hafod in about 1800
The word 'hafod' means a summer pasture for sheep. In the late eighteenth century the Hafod estate was a huge, privately owned tract of land, which surrounded a great mansion. The original owner of the estate, Thomas Johnes, laid out scenic paths for his eminent guests to enjoy. The 'Picturesque' style was in fashion, so he also created a robbers' cave, complete with its own waterfall. You can walk around the estate, following the original paths, and there are leaflets that explain the history of the place, including the story of Mariamne, the gifted but disabled daughter of Thomas Johnes. She died when in her twenties.
In Hafod church Thomas Johnes built a superb marble monument to the young Mariamne. Sadly, the monument was utterly destroyed in a fire within the church, and now only a heap of shattered marble remains. Thomas Johnes over-reached himself financially, and ended his life in poverty. Even the great mansion was demolished in the mid twentieth century and nothing of it now remains. There is information about Hafod in your bungalow.
A viewpoint from one of the walks at the Arch
Take the B4574 from Devils Bridge (called Pontarfynach in Welsh, which means The Monks’ Bridge) or join this road at its southern end at Cwmystwyth. About 1½ miles north of Cwmystwyth there is a spectacular stone celebratory arch, built by Thomas Johnes for the Jubilee of King George III. Park in the car park and keep a sharp watch on the tops of the conifers because crossbills enjoy feasting on the seeds within the cones. You may wish to know that there are some nice toilets nearby. There are lovely forest trails from The Arch.
Drive north from Bont to Ffair Rhos then turn east by the pub (The Teifi Inn) and drive for about two miles. Beyond the cattle grid please drive with care, as the road has sharp bends and hidden dips. Turn south down the road that is signposted to Llyn Teifi (map reference 785682). Drive beyond the gateway, which is in the road and park at the side of the road. Along this part of the road there grows in profusion the sundew - a tiny carnivorous plant. Try to visit all of the lakes. In fact they are reservoirs that supply water to this area.
The view from the Teifi lakes is magnificent. You can see right across Cors Caron and from that elevated viewpoint it is easy to se that Cors Caron is a peat dome - the peat has become so thick that the surface of the bog is now above the surrounding landscape. The basin of Cors Caron was carved-out by a glacier that flowed down from Pymlumon. The stony debris from the glacier blocked the southern end of the basin, which became a lake. Silt filled the lake and mosses grew in the shallow waters, forming layers of peat.
The abbey at Strata Florida
Strata Florida Abbey
Drive to Bont, go over the bridge then turn left opposite the general store. After about a mile or so the road turns sharply right and you reach the remains of the Cistercian abbey of Strata Florida (Abaty Ystrad Fflur). Both the Welsh name - Ystrad Fflur - and the name used by English speakers - the Latin 'Strata Florida' - mean the same thing: The Plain of Flowers. This abbey was founded in 1164 and at the height of its powers it was fabulously wealthy. It owned and controlled huge tracts of land in Wales and this included mines (mostly lead and silver) and, of course, enormous quantities of sheep. There were wool mills in Pontrhydfendigaid.
The Plain of Flowers
Take the minor road that runs east along the northern side of the church next to the abbey. This minor road takes you along The Plain of Flowers and you eventually reach a tiny car park by a stream at the farm known as Tyncwm (map reference 771655). Put on your walking boots and turn left off the track and climb through the farm (the dogs are loud but harmless). After an initial steep scramble through the farm you follow a gentle uphill path that leads to the lake known as Llyn Egnant. (This is one of the Teifi lakes and you can clearly see the dam at its southern end.) The walk up the valley is beautiful and you can see buzzards (boda) and kites (barcud) along the way.
Kite feeding centre: Bwlch Nant Yr Arian
We mention this in our brochure. Bwylch Nant Yr Arian is on the A44 (map reference 716813) at its highest point. At this lovely visitor centre with its lake, the wild red kites are fed daily at about 3 o'clock. There is a restaurant that serves all sorts of pleasant foods and there are plenty of woodland walks that range from a few yards to many kilometres. Parking is inexpensive and there is a viewpoint at the car park right down the Valley of the Stream of Silver (Nant yr Arian).
The Silver Mountain Experience
The Silver Mountain Experience is also on the A44, one mile east of the kite-feeding centre at Bwlch Nant Yr Arian. Here you can see tumbling streams, mysterious forests and long abandoned mine workings that 'will take you on a journey through the mists of time'. At this attraction you can see specimens of mining machinery and water wheels and you can go on an underground guided tour. The tunnels are part of a much larger and deeper mine that once occupied the site. The local stream is called the Stream of Gold (Nant yr Aur).
Devil's Bridge Falls
Devils Bridge Falls is a world famous tourist attraction 12 miles from Aberystwyth. These unique waterfalls have attracted many thousands of visitors since the 18th century, including William Wordsworth who wrote about the "Torrent at the Devil's Bridge". Today, the Falls Nature Trail provides a unique opportunity to see this great natural feature in the Rheidol Gorge. There are two walks to choose from, and the Waterfalls and Punchbowl are open all year. From Easter to October there are nearby gift shops and tearooms which offer refreshments and Welsh Crafts for sale.
Bwylch Nant-yr-Arian lake
The Silver Mountain Experience
Devil's Bridge Falls
The narrow-gauge steam railway
The narrow-gauge Vale of Rheidol Steam Railway puffs its way uphill from its station in Aberystwyth to Devils Bridge. This is a spectacular ride which you can start at either terminus. While you are in Devils Bridge you can explore the waterfalls and enjoy meals or snacks at the various hotels, restaurants or cafes.
The Cliff Railway and Camera Obscura
On the sea-front at Aberystwyth is the lower station of the longest cliff railway in the UK. The cliff railway takes you to the top of Constitution Hill, which is the cliff at the northern end of the promenade. At the top of the cliff are a superb restaurant and café and a stunning view across Cardigan Bay.
At the top of the Railway you will find the Camera Obscura. Like the cliff-railway, the camera obscura is the largest in the UK and is set on Constitution Hill. If you have never been inside a camera obscura make sure you visit this one! This camera obscura is a large, drum-shaped building with a mirror and lens set in a turret on the roof. Inside the building is a large, circular table onto which the optical system projects a view of the bay and the town. You can alter the direction and elevation of the view. As you look down on the circular table it is like looking at a huge picture postcard, until you notice that you can see people walking, cars moving and the waves coming in and out. The entire experience is quite remarkable and it is easy to understand why cameras obscura were so popular with the Victorians.
The Ceredigion coast
The Ceredigion coast is within easy drive and the coastal path an ideal way to appreciate the spectacular coastline of Cardigan Bay.
Dolphins are regularly seen off the coast and, in the summer, it is possible to take boat rides from Aberystwyth to enjoy both coast and wildlife.
There are many excellent pubs and restaurants nearby, we can give you details of these when you arrive.