Hafod Estate – A hidden gem   8 comments

When I was a kid me and my parents explored most of the well-known sites in the immediate vicinity of Aberystwyth, especially the numerous Forestry Commission picnic areas and short walks around the local lakes and rivers. One area that we missed was the Hafod Estate a couple of miles from the tourist spot of Devils Bridge. My parents discovered it a couple of weeks before our October trip and said it was pretty good so on our last day before heading home we headed off with a picnic lunch to check it out.

You can find out more about the estate here, but this is brief summary taken from the site:

Hafod Uchtryd, 12 miles south-east of Aberystwyth, is recognised as one of the finest examples in Europe of a Picturesque landscape.

Its most celebrated owner, Thomas Johnes (1748-1816), built a new house in this remote location and laid out its grounds in a manner suited to displaying its natural beauties in sympathy with the ‘Picturesque principles’ fashionable at the time, with circuit walks allowing the visitor to enjoy a succession of views and experiences. Johnes also used the land for farming, forestry, and gardening, in each case trying out new ideas and experimental methods. Hafod became an essential destination for the early tourist in Wales.

I’ve shown a map below of what I guessed was the route we took as the paths aren’t marked all that clearly on the map

There are several trails through the estate but we decided to combine a few parts of all of them into a walk that evolved through the day. The car park is up at the top so we headed down towards the first small river with its gorge, waterfalls and bridge, a good little taster for what was to come.

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Gorge in the Ystwyth tributary

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The first bridge

D is really into walking but L less so so she needs some encouragement and the diversions on this walk were perfect.

We continued on a well made path across to one of the highlights, a wobbly chain bridge across the Ystwyth gorge.

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Chain Bridge

The kids went back and forth over the bridge, amused by its swinging around. I took photos of the small gorge, my mind already whirring with a plan to come down with GM and have a play in the water. It would be ideal for some floating down rapids type fun although it would need to be in high water

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Ystwyth Gorge and Chain Bridge

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Ystwyth Gorge

As we headed downstream following the river the sun came out after a pretty grey start to the day and the light in the trees was stunning.

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Autumn sunshine

We reached a lovely bridge over the Nant Gau and were intrigued by a sign to “Cavern Cascade”.

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Nant Gau

We set off on the path that traversed an open pasture before heading along the much smaller mini-gorge of the Nant Gau and into the dark forest. We walked for a fair way before we reached a very pretty waterfall on a side stream where the path seemed to end.

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Waterfall, Nant Gau tributary

It was distinctly un-cavern-like so I took one last look to see what was around the corner. Just as well. The river turns and sharp bend and disappears behind a small crag through which was what looked like an old mine passage. In fact it had been cut specifically to create an underground viewing platform for close up look at the waterfall.

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The “Cavern”

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The “Cascade”

Needless to say the kids thought this was extremely exciting even though the tunnel was a bit wet. Photos don’t really do it justice unfortunately but it was a nice surprise to find it and well worth the effort (some of the video in the slide show gives a better impression).

Suitably satisfied we headed off along the “Gentleman’s Walk” and found a nice bench in dappled sunlight in the forest for our picnic lunch. Considering it was the end of October it was remarkably warm and we spent a very pleasant hour eating and messing about.

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Picnic in the forest

Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves so we continued along this path high up through the trees above the Ystwyth, passing through more groves of trees, another tunnel through the rock and another pretty waterfall, the “mossy seat”.

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Tunnel on the Gentlemans Walk

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Mossy Seat Waterfall

The path then drops steadily down to the Ystwyth, now much more open and broader. The views back towards the higher ground and downstream in the fading autumn light were stunning.

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View NW towards the Cambrian Mountains

When we reached the bridge we had a whole host of routes back to the car.

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Ystwyth from the Alpine Bridge

As the light was already starting to fade (the clocks went back the night before) we took a direct route across some broad open pastures which would make a great place for a summer picnic.

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Sunny meadows on the route home

Just as we reached the car the sun vanished behind some grey clouds and it started to drizzle.

Considering I’d never heard of this place until a couple of weeks ago it’s an absolute gem. A great place for a family day out and not bad for a decent half a day walk to take in all the best bits. Well worth checking out if you’re down that way and especially on those days when a visit to the high fells isn’t really attractive.

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8 responses to “Hafod Estate – A hidden gem

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  1. Hard to beat a good waterfall. The Nant Gau photo is a cracker.

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    beatingthebounds
    • I love waterfall and gorge scenery and so do the kids so it’s a real all-round winner. Mind you considering I always have one eye on “can I jump in the water and play in the waterfalls” then It sometimes hard to dinstinguish the kids from the adults

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  2. Gorge-ous pics, Andy!

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    • I see what you did there, Pete 🙂

      Nice end to a top weekend with the family. It’s been amazing spending some time back in this area again. I just never realised there was so much to do both for the family and for me in terms of walks and backpacks.

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  3. nice, that tunnel with the view up to the waterfall looks cool…

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  4. Beautiful place! Love the wilderness!

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    • Hi Constantin – Thanks for the comment. It’s a fantastic place this one with waterfalls, gorges and great scenery.

      I have added your site to my blogroll and will head over to take a look at your stuff. I’ve noted that like me you are a GoPro HD camera user so I’m keen to look at some of your videos

      Hope you enjoy some of the other posts on my blog

      Cheers

      Andy

      Like

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