Guest Post: Author Tracey Kilford from Pack the PJ’s
Things to do in and around Aberystwyth
For 5 years I lived close to Aberystwyth. My daughter, now 11, was born there, but we moved soon after her arrival so I could be closer to my parents. We visit often though. It’s a place that we still call home, 11 years after leaving. It’s a beautiful part of Wales, with amazing countryside, coastline, mountains, and friendly people.
To take in the highlights of the area in a short space of time, this would be my itinerary.
Day 1 – I’d start our day in Aberystwyth itself – probably in one of the many cafes serving hearty Welsh Breakfast. We’d then head to the Funicular (Cliff) railway and ride to the top to take in the panoramic vista of the Victorian seafront, castle, and coastline beyond. If we have time, we might play a quick game of frisbee golf before taking the train back down into the town.
We’d then head to the train station, where we’d catch the steam train to Devil’s Bridge. The Vale of Rheidol Railway is a beautiful ride through some of the greenest countryside in the UK – it’s a great opportunity to rest up too, as the next attraction demands a bit of stamina (though is child-friendly).
The steam train ends at Devil’s Bridge, an area rich in waterfalls, punchbowls and cascades. Here you can follow the circular walking route – it is beautiful, but a word of warning. There’s 675 steps (some of them VERY steep), and it’s not pram-able. But it is a safe walk – very popular with families. Just pace yourself and stop frequently to admire the view (and catch your breath!)
Ideally, we’d be leaving Devil’s Bridge by car as we’d then head through the countryside towards the nature reserve at Nant yr Arian.
Bwlch Nant Yr Arian Nature Reserve
Here, at either 2pm or 3pm (depending on the season) every day they feed the red kites … it has to be seen to be believed! Hundreds of huge birds of prey gather, waiting for feeding time. It’s then a feeding frenzy – amazing photo opportunity if you have the right camera gear. The visitor centre has quizzes for children, and there’s a circular route around the main lake (pram and wheelchair friendly) that’s really nice to do. Good café here too for coffee and cake.
Silver Mountain Experience
If time allows, less than a mile from the nature reserve, off the A44, is the Silver Mountain Experience. My son and husband joined a themed experience that took them into the old silver mine. They really enjoyed it; there’s also a small mining museum and discovery centre here.
After all this activity there’s one last thing that I would do, but it’s a little drive down the coast. We’d drive to New Quay, about 25 mins away from Aberystwyth. I’d park in the car park overlooking the harbour and make sure my car is facing the sea. Then we’d go and get fish and chips and (weather permitting) either eat them while sitting on the harbour wall, or from the shelter of your car. If you time the tides right (high tide) and the weather is calm, there’s a really good chance of spotting the bottlenose dolphins that live in Cardigan Bay. You’ll be amazed how close they get to the harbour wall. I could watch them for hours – and I have done in the past. Those chips are simply the best too!
Borth and the Ynyslas Dunes
Day 2 – After such an active day before, today I’d recommend enjoying one of the best beaches in the UK (biased, but it is still true!). If you head to the coastal village of Borth, about 3 miles north of Aberystwyth, and drive to the furthest point – called Ynyslas, you can park on the beach and walk/play in and around the dunes for several hours. Do watch the tides though – we’ve seen many submerged cars over the years … Looking north from Ynyslas you look over the Dyfi estuary to Aberdovey and the foothills of Snowdonia National Park. There used to be an ice-cream van parked on the sand here that sells Mr Whippy cones that are dunked in sherbet! Highly recommended!
Borth is also home to the Borth Zoo (until recently called the Animalarium). Even though we lived in Borth for 5 years, this is one place we never got around to visiting. It’s a small zoo with an impressive collection of animals (which occasionally escape …) Definitely worth investigating! It’s on our list to visit next time we head back ‘home’ to Wales.
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