Autumn has arrived and with it the glorious gold, copper and bronze colours of the many beech trees in Wales. Some of the finest beech woodland in Wales can be found on the Hafod Estate in the Yswyth Valley, 12 miles south-east of Aberystwyth, where one massive tree on Allt Dihanog Hill has an impressive width of around 8m.
In the late 18th Century, Hafod Uchtryd (in English: summer mansion of Uchtryd) was owned by Thomas Johnes (1748-1816) who built a new house and laid out the grounds following the ‘Picturesque principles’ fashionable at the time. Johnes created circuit walks along which visitors could enjoy a succession of views and experiences. Johnes also used the land for farming, forestry and gardening, trying out new ideas and experimental methods. The Hafod Estate became an essential destination for early tourists in Wales.
Covering some 200 hectares of the Ystwyth Valley and surrounding hills, the estate is now managed by Natural Resources Wales in partnership with the Hafod Trust who work to conserve and restore the historic landscape, protect its natural habitats and provide access and enjoyment for visitors.
There are 5 way-marked walks capturing the ‘Spirit of Place’ which is Hafod, including ‘The Gentleman’s Walk’, ‘The Bedford Monument Walk’ and ‘The Apline Bridge Walk’. Waterfalls, cascades, rustic bridges and hidden tunnels are in abundance, all adding to the magical atmosphere. ‘The Lady’s Walk’ was created by Johnes in his early years at Hafod and takes you through a contrasting landscape of open parkland, narrow wooded valleys and rushing streams.
Eglwys Newydd, locally known as Hafod Church was commissioned in 1803 and was an excellent example of Gothic architecture. Sadly, nearly all the internal fittings were destroyed by fire in 1932, although the font survived. Now restored and renovated this beautiful church is open to the public every day between 10.30am and 4.30pm from Easter to the end of September.
Thomas Johnes’ original Mansion House no longer exists but The Hafod Hotel which he built as a small hunting lodge in 1787 still stands. It was enlarged and converted into a Swiss style chateau in 1839 by the third Duke of Newcastle and over the years further modification was carried out. Today it provides a welcome refreshment stop after a magical walk through the Hafod Estate.
More information can be found on the Hafod Estate website
There are lots of welcoming Cottages in the area