National Nature Reserves
There are over 70 National Nature Reserves in Wales and this area is especially plentiful, with two of the most impressive found less than 30 minutes’ drive away from Plas Talgarth.
Cadair Idris Nature Reserve
This fascinating area lies within the southern stretch of Eryri National Park (Snowdonia). A Special Site of Scientific Interest and Special Area of Conservation, the Nature Reserve encompasses Cadair Idris mountain - one of the highest in Wales - and its lower slopes. It’s a wild and rugged place, showcasing striking geology and a wide variety of habitats including dry and wet heath, blanket bog, woodland and marshy grasslands, as well as several clear water lakes.
Walking to the summit of Cadair Idris – a 6-mile round trip unless you take a less direct route - can be an awe-inspiring journey, and the footpaths are mainly well defined and easy to follow. However, visibility and the weather in general can change quickly, so proper preparation is essential. Check out the Visit Wales website for descriptions of all three routes - the Pony Path, the Minffordd Path and the Llanfihangel y Pennant Path – and advice on forward planning.
Alternatively, you can admire the scenery on the flat by following one of the waymarked walking trails through the parkland, starting at the car park at Dôl Idris Lake.
Dyfi National Nature Reserve
Some say the River Dyfi forms the boundary between North and South Wales, but it is certainly the driving force behind an area that has long been recognised as unique - as it was awarded Biosphere status by UNESCO in 2009. The Dyfi Biosphere is celebrated for its special landscapes and wildlife, its language and cultural heritage, and the community’s efforts to care for, sustain and develop the area's biodiversity alongside its sustainable use.
At its heart, the Dyfi National Nature Reserve incorporates the great Dyfi estuary, Cors Fochno - the largest swathe of lowland in Britain - and the magnificent Ynyslas dunes. You’ll want to see it all, so start your journey at the Ynyslas Visitor Centre – the main access point to the Dyfi National Nature Reserve, where you can get your bearings and decide how to plan your time.
The Ynyslas Dunes are a great place to begin, and are easy to explore from the network of boardwalks, where you can take in the wide-open spaces, spectacular views over the estuary and the sounds of wind, sea and birds.
Nearby is the Dyfi Osprey Observatory where you can watch the nest and activity of its temporary inhabitants as the Dyfi Osprey Project works hard to restore Wales’s Osprey population. It is closed from mid-December until March.
Cors Fochno - Dyfi Nature Reserve
Cors Fochno is one of the largest and finest remaining examples of a raised peat bog in Britain, not surprising when you discover that peat has been accumulating here gradually for over 6,000 years. In the beginning, the floodplain was covered by forest, but as sea levels rose, the forest was replaced by reed swamp and then peat bog. At low tide, you can still see ancient tree stumps on the beach near Borth.
The bog is now over 6 metres deep but luckily, there’s a boarded walking trail, accessible from the parking area, which will take you around the edge of the bog – the perfect viewpoint for admiring its multi-coloured surface, a patchwork of different mosses where a variety of rare plants and insects live and thrive.
Cors Fochno is not suitable for dogs so if your four-legged friend is with you for the day, make sure they sit this part out with a willing companion.