Further afield you can explore the Ynys-Hir RSPB Reserve which is a wildlife haven in the heart of Wales, made famous by the BBC Spring Watch programme, The Dyfi Osprey Project (please follow the link to watch live: http://www.dyfiospreyproject.com/live-streaming), The Ceredigion Heritage Coast along Cardigan Bay, the Cambrian Mountains and not forgetting the lakes, small towns and villages, picturesque resorts and harbours.
With several important nature reserves, lowland wet grassland and salt marshes, ancient woodlands, lakes, national trails, coastal paths and mountains to explore... all within Dyfi the Biosphere.
It’s no wonder then that wildlife flourishes here. Bottlenose dolphins can be spotted from the beaches of Aberystwyth, ospreys are breeding at Cors Dyfi, hen harriers, peregrine falcons and merlins hunt at Cors Fochno, redshank and lapwing are breeding at Ynys-hir RSPB reserve, and if you are very lucky you can catch sight of rare butterflies at Abercorris.
Most people haven’t caught on yet so it’s not unusual to find yourself enjoying the wilderness with no one else to spoil the view. So bring your walking boots, your binoculars and immerse yourself in this place of natural bounty.
The Dyfi Biosphere
Aberystwyth and the Dyfi Valley
The Dyfi Biosphere is home to many migrating birds including ospreys, redshanks. white- fronted geese and wood warblers. There are many reserves in the biosphere including an RSPB reserve and the Dyfi Osprey Project
The landscapes in this part of Mid Wales run from high peat moorland, through wide estuary to sand dunes and beaches, taking in the wildlife of broadleaved woodland, coniferous forest, farmland, saltmarsh and large lowland peat bog making it a haven for wildlife.
Otters swim in the rivers, ospreys come and nest, red kites are easy to spot and dolphin pods regularly visit the beaches; there are nature reserves perfect for bird watching including the Dyfi Osprey project and an RSPB reserve.
NESCO’s Biospheres inspire communities to work together in creating a future we can all be proud of, connecting people with nature and cultural heritage, while strengthening local economy.
Cader/Cadair Idris is a spectacular mountain reserve with a variety of landscapes and terrain. Rugged summits, glacial lakes and a mossy wooded gorge cover over 450 hectares of breathtaking landscape.
Local folklore describes Idris as a giant who lived on this magnificent mountain. The large boulders on the lower slopes are said to be the debris of stone throwing battles between Idris and other giants. Idris is more likely to have been an important leader in this area, a giant in personality and authority rather than in stature.
The reserve lies within Snowdonia National Park and is part of the Cadair Idris Special Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Area of Conservation (SAC).
The site encompasses the mountain and lower slopes, with a variety of habitats of European importance. These include dry heath, wet heath, blanket bog, woodland and the species-rich marshy grasslands of Tir Stent common, as well as a number of low nutrient or clear-water lakes. The cliffs support tall herbs growing on the ledges, and a range of plants growing on rock crevices. These habitats support a wide range of species, including slender green feather-moss and marsh fritillary Butterfly.
While the romantically inclined attribute its features to the work of giants, geologists come up with more prosaic but nonetheless interesting explanations that span hundreds of millions of years. The origin of the rock is volcanic, some of the lavas being poured out under the sea and shaped into bulbuous "pillows" that give it the name pillow lava. These are interspersed with layers of ash and other sediments that settled out on the sea bed of the time.
The glaciers of the last ice age scoured and scraped at this hard upfolded rock leaving visible scratches on some of the surfaces and hollowing out basins now filled with small lakes such as those at Cregennan on the first 'step' up the mountain, or the supposedly bottomless Llyn Cau on the south side.
Amongst this craggy country on the mountain tops there survive rare arctic/alipne flowers, a legacy of the last Ice Age such as purple saxifrage and least willow (a 'tree' that never gets to more than a scrambling shrub).
At the lower level around Cregennan the National Trust owns two small hill farms where the rough grazing can be managed in the traditional way. A sign of summer here is the arrival of that dainty visitor, the wheatear, often difficult to spot until it displays its white rump in flight.
Snowdonia National Park
With wild landscapes and villages steeped in history, Snowdonia National Park is a breathtaking destination for activity holidays, short breaks or days out with family and friends. It’s best known for hiking, but there’s plenty more to enjoy, from waterfalls, lakes and world-class mountain biking to a vintage steam railway that climbs the highest peak in Wales.
Things to see in Snowdonia National Park
What could be more invigorating than dashing down a forest trail by mountain bike or hiking to a pristine waterfall? How about taking a vintage steam train to the top of Wales’ highest mountain or watching birds hover over a sparkling estuary? In Snowdonia, each day can bring a new adventure.
Snowdonia is a champion among parks. Over 800 square miles in extent and dominated by Snowdon, the tallest peak in Wales, it has been protected since 1951. That makes it the largest, highest and oldest Welsh National Park.
Waterfalls, lakes and railways
Snowdonia contains Wales’ highest major waterfall, Pistyll Rhaeadr and largest natural lake, Bala Lake. It has one of the highest railway stations in Britain and one of the longest narrow-gauge steam railway lines in Europe, the Welsh Highland Railway and The Talyllyn Railway is the first preserved railway in the World. You can also explore some of the best mountain bike trails in the world.
The superlatives don’t stop there. Just look at the scenery.
Craggy mountains give way to ancient woodland and estuaries teeming with birds. Brooks burble under mossy bridges. Folded into these lovely landscapes are pretty stone cottages and welcoming market towns.
The perfect place to get outdoors
With well-defined trails leading past sheer rock faces and grassy slopes speckled with flowers, Snowdon is one of the UK’s most popular mountain hiking destinations. On a clear day, the views will raise your spirits higher with every step. Make it to the top and you can reward yourself with a restoring mug of tea at the award-winning Hafod Eryri visitor centre, open from late spring until the end of October.
If you’re planning an activity holiday in Snowdonia, there’s no need to limit yourself to Snowdon alone. There are more than 90 peaks within the park. 15 of these, including Aran Fawddwy and Tryfan, are over 900 m high. Seven are higher than Scafell Pike, England’s loftiest mountain.
It’s easy enough to pull on your boots and stride off under your own steam, but expert local walking guides can add an extra dimension to your adventure. They’ll point out geological features dating back to the Ice Age and chat about local natural history and archaeology along the way.