Things to do / family activities, Rheidol Valley, Aberystwyth
There are many things to do and see in the Rheidol valley including walking, cycling and birdwatching. This page give some ideas for family activities in the area. The Butterfly House is set among some of the most spectacular scenery of mid Wales. The river snakes through a deep valley that is covered in a mosaic of woodland and fertile green pastures (see here for video). Rising above are the rounded foothills of the Cambrian mountains.
The rich combination of woodland, river and grassland makes the Rheidol Valley a special place for wildlife. The sessile oak woodland at the end of the valley is one of the largest continuous patches of broadleaf woodland in mid Wales. It is one of the few remaining woodlands where sheep haven't destroyed the ground flora. This is a little-known national nature reserve called Coed Rheidol. Pine Martens, previously thought extinct, have recently been rediscovered in this little-known part of Wales.
There are several walks in the area. A two-hour walk begins at the Butterfly House and takes you around the reservoir on the north side of the river, crossing back near the Rheidol Hydro station.
Perhaps more suitable for younger families, there is a shorter walk behind the butterfly house giving excellent views of the river before coming back down to the road.
The best walk is at the end of the valley going up into the nature reserve. Park by the disused lead mine which is at the very end of the valley road. There are some spectacular rapids here; a perfect place for a picnic. Ffollow the gravel path up. When the main path bends to the left, take the smaller path directly ahead. This path leads into an enchanted oak forest with deep valleys below. In the distance, you can see the famous Rheidol waterfalls. See Rheidol Valley walk for a longer route.
A famous local landmark to see in the valley is "The Stag" - a huge spoil heap from the old mining days etching out the shape of a stag in the woodlands. Other sites to see include the mini-waterfall and fish ladder near the Hydro-station, and for visitors coming late in the day in the Spring or Autumn, the lights on the weir on the road to Aberffrwd.
Red Kites are a common site and can often be seen winding and wheeling their way up the valley. Other birds of note are goshawks, sparrowhawks, ravens, barn owls and a white-phase buzzard (often erroneously reported as an Osprey). In the early summer, the woods are alive to the songs of woodwarblers, blackcaps and chiffchaffs.
Steam Engine Ride
The Vale of Rheidol steam engine ride can be seen from the butterfly house.
It is now possible to ride from Aberystwyth all the way down the Rheidol Valley on the new cycle path (The butterfly house gives concessionary rates to cyclists).