After months of staying at home to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus, millions of people across the UK are longing to escape to the countryside for a holiday or short break.
There’s no better place to relax and immerse oneself in beautiful countryside and spectacular scenery than Mid Wales, the rural heartland of Wales which offers something for everyone.
From the rivers, lakes and mountains of Powys and the Brecon Beacons National Park to the stunning Cardigan Bay coastline, the Cambrian Mountains and the foothills of Snowdonia, the region is packed with places and things to see and do.
National Resources Wales’ woodland trails and National Nature Reserves (NRW) in Mid Wales have remained open over the most recent lockdown period, with social distancing measures in place.
With more people expected to explore beyond their local surroundings, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) is urging visitors to adhere to the Countryside Code and follow six steps to ensure their return to the great Welsh outdoors is a safe and enjoyable experience for themselves and communities. The message is: respect, protect and enjoy the natural environment of Wales.
Before they visit, visitors are asked to:
- Plan ahead- check what is open and closed before you set out. Pack hand sanitiser and face masks.
- Avoid the crowds– choose a quiet place to visit. Make a ‘plan B’ in case your destination is too busy when you arrive.
While at their destination, they are asked to:
- Park responsibly– respect the local community by using car parks. Do not park on verges or block emergency access routes.
- Follow guidance– comply with site signs and Covid 19 safety measures to enjoy your visit safely.
- Take your litter home– protect wildlife and the environment by leaving no trace of your visit.
- Follow the Countryside Code– stick to trails, leave gates as you find them, keep dogs under control, bag and bin dog poo and do not light fires.
For those seeking a family day out, there is Bwlch Nant yr Arian Visitor Centre, near Aberystwyth, which has red kite feeding every day, easy walking trails, including one suitable for pushchairs, a new off-road cycle trail and a takeaway service from the café.
Tan y Coed woodland in Dyfi Forest, near Machynlleth offers an easy to find picnic site with two short woodland walks with an animal discovery trail with animal models hidden in the trees.
For those seeking an activity day out, Bwlch Nant yr Arian Visitor Centre is a great place for running and mountain biking trails, while the Hafren Forest, near Llanidloes has an eight mile walk to the source of the River Severn.
Further north near Dolgellau is Coed y Brenin Visitor Centre, a famous mountain bike centre with trails for all abilities as well as walks, picnic sites and a takeaway service from the café.
Visitors who use wheelchairs can enjoy two very different trails in Mid Wales. Cors Caron National Nature Reserve, near Tregaron has a wheelchair accessible boardwalk over a vast raised bog and Hafren Forest’s waterfall walks include a wheelchair accessible boardwalk to a viewing area over cascades.
For waterfall walks, head to Hafren Forest which offers walks of varying lengths, one of which is accessible for wheelchairs and pushchairs, while Hafod Estate, near Aberystwyth has a historic landscape with a range of walks taking in dramatic waterfalls and views.
For those wishing to explore off the beaten track, Mid Wales has a selection of woodlands to choose from. The Foel Friog picnic site in Dyfi Forest, near Machynlleth, is the starting point for a short but steep walk with superb views over the Dyfi valley and estuary. Pont Llogel in Dyfnant Forest has an easy riverside stroll through woodland and is tucked away in a hamlet not far from Lake Vyrnwy, The Arch, near Aberystwyth provides walks through huge beech trees with views over hills and Radnor Forest (Fishpools car park), near Knighton has a woodland walk with valley views.
When it comes to bluebells, the woodland walk at Gogerddan Wood, near Aberystwyth is a must do during spring. Nature lovers could also head for Dyfi National Nature Reserve, near Aberystwyth to enjoy displays of spring flowers in the dunes and perhaps spot one of the reptiles that live here, including the common lizard, sand lizard, adder and grass snake.