There are stunning views from the surrounding summits. Red kites and buzzards soar overhead and ravens, peregrines, sparrowhawks, merlins and goshawks may be seen. There are binoculars in Ty Mari and bird books in both cottages. The Ystwyth valley is one of the foremost areas of the country for observing red kites. This large bird of prey was on the verge of extinction before being successfully repopulated in the valley. Whilst the birds may often be seen circling on thermals outside of the cottages, local feeding centres provide opportunities to see the birds at much closer quarters and are particularly popular with children. There are several RSPB Centres in Mid-Wales where lapwings, little egrets, redshanks and white-fronted geese may be seen. If you pop down to Aberystwyth pier as the sun is setting, you will often catch an amazing sight as you look up and see the murmuration of starlings. Wonderopolis says of this: ‘regardless of the size of the murmuration, all the birds seem to be connected to the same network. This phenomenon puzzles scientists, because it goes beyond what we know from biology about how animals behave. The mystery of the murmuration is a fascinating example of a natural phenomenon that hides secrets about the world that scientists have still yet to uncover! Have your video at the ready!
If you want a couple of inspiring books to read on your holiday, these will inform and inspire your birdwatching in Wales:
Meadowland by John Lewis-Stempel (Black Swan pub. 2015)
Deep Country by Neil Ansell (Penguin 2012)
Cardigan Bay is the largest Bay in the British Isles, stretching approximately 50 miles from Bardsey Island off the Llyn Peninsular in the north to Strumble Head in Pembrokeshire in the South. Cardigan Bay is home to a rich variety of wildlife including the largest resident population of bottlenose dolphins in the whole of Europe. Although the ever playful bottlenose dolphins which often steal the limelight, Cardigan Bay is also home the smaller harbour porpoise, atlantic grey seals, and a wide variety of bird species.
This has lead to Cardigan Bay’s beautiful coastline being designated as a Special Area of Conservation to help ensure its beauty and its wildlife is safeguarded for generations to come. Have a look at this website and see if it could lead to a memorable day out. We haven’t tried it but they have won a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence.
Sarah Bunton is an artisan chocolatier based at Devils Bridge in the Cambrian Mountains of Mid-Wales. She strives to create fine chocolates that are both delicious and innovative, taking classic combinations (and exciting new ones) and adding our own special touch! Chocolates are for sale at Y Caban by the station at Devil’s Bridge and for a group of 8 or more she will arrange a chocolate workshop! Call 01970 890650
A lively Anglican church, St Michael’s is on the sea front at Aberystwyth and nearby in South Road SY23 1JF there is a warm welcoming Elim church. The Local church at Hafod, St Michael and All Angels has services in Welsh and English at 1030am on the 1st and 2nd Sunday each month. The church is well worth a visit and is open every day between 1030am and 430pm from Easter to September 30th.
Srys Melyn Cycling offers a great adventure for all the family with a range of e-bikes for adults and children for hire along with the offer of a delivery and collection service from Welsh Hideaways. They also offer:
- Ride the river Ystwyth from source to sea: This is a 1-day self-guided bike ride, which includes bike hire, a detailed route plan and home-made snacks. They will transfer riders to Cwmystwyth, and meet them at the end of the day in Aberystwyth. This is a leisurely, mainly downhill, ride along quiet roads with stunning scenery.
- Family bike ride – Their Ystwyth Explorers ride follows the river Ystwyth as it winds its way towards the sea. Children will get a chance to learn about the river and its wildlife, practice their bike skills, and enjoy a home-made picnic in the woods.
Cycling is a great way to explore the welsh countryside and many cyclists enjoy the unique character of the Cambrian Mountains. This guide will help you plan your holiday. Natural Resources Wales works in partnership with the cycling community to provide dedicated cycle tracks at many of the most popular locations. Wales as a whole now has over 1000 miles of cycling paths. Due to the relative quiet of travelling on a bike, birds and mammals are often not scared off so quickly. Cycling therefore represents an excellent way to take in the abundant wildlife on offer. There is also a good mountain bike trail near the cottages and mountain biking in the winter can be memorable!
Exploring Wales on horseback is a great way to enjoy the beautiful countryside. Nearby Rheidol Riding Centre is there for a wide range of ages and levels of experience, offering gentle pony treks or more exhilarating cross-country courses. There is also the well-reviewed Caeiago Riding Centre at SA19 8LZ.
Cambrian Safaris (01974 261425 and 07773182001) provide excursions into the heart of the Cambrian Mountains in a Land Rover Discovery. You can enjoy the fantastic views, local history and wildlife without getting wet or exhausted! The tours are customised for you, picking you up from Ty Mari or Penroc. Your guide has extensive knowledge both of the area and of wildlife as well as knowing Welsh Hideaways and their owners. You can tour the places featured in the BBC series ‘Y Gwyll’ (Hinterland), discover yet more around and above Cwmystwyth and the Elan Valley and are sure to discover memorable places that are well off the beaten track. Prices vary according to the time taken and the distances covered.
More leisurely progress through the countryside is offered by the Vale of Rheidol railway. Between mid-April and late October renovated, early 20th century steam locomotives run between Aberystwyth and the nearby village of Devil’s Bridge, covering the 12 mile trip in around an hour. The journey covers a height difference of over 650 ft and affords superb views of the valley. This is a ‘not to be missed’ outing for the whole family. You can also step off at recently renovated stations en route and enjoy superb walks.