The village of Borth, 12 minutes by car from Aberystwyth, and the neighbouring nature reserve at Ynyslas (pronounced “unnisslass”) can be found just up the coast from Aberystwyth.
Borth itself is an old fishing hamlet, now a long, narrow village fronted by sand and shingle beaches. During summer it attracts many visitors, many of whom come back year after year to enjoy the beauty of the area as well as the shallow gradient beach, which is ideal for young families.
At Borth Animalarium you can spend happy hours viewing and cooing over the collection of exotic and unusual animals, as well as some more domestic animals which you’re allowed to stroke and feed. Not all the wild animals are as cuddly as they appear and some are fierce and awe-inspiring such as Rajah the leopard and the crocodiles.
At low tide you can sometimes see ancient remains of a submerged forest on the southern end of the beach. There’s a folk tale which explains these as the remains of a mythical land called Cantre'r Gwaelod which was flooded and lost through the carelessness of its night watchman who forgot to close the gates one night. Some think they still hear the bells of the village church ringing out from beneath the waves… In reality, it was probably caused by a sudden rise in sea level over three thousand years ago.
The railway adds interest to the town and you can take scenic train trips up the coast to Aberdovey (1.5 hrs), Barmouth (2.2 hrs) and Harlech (2.5 hrs) or south to Aberystwyth. It makes a change from driving and you can avoid the trauma of having to find a parking space. Visit Borth Station Museum where you can see local railway history displays in an attractive setting which includes a restored 1950s ticket office.
Ynyslas is a small village a mile and a half from Borth which is on the tip of the southern end of the Dyfi Estuary (Dovey in English). The vast area of sand dunes there are home to many rare insects and plants and have therefore been included in the Dyfi National Nature Reserve. Particularly splendid in the summer are the rare chalk-loving orchids which flourish here due to the crushed sea shells in the sand which provide their ideal habitat.
On the estuary many types of birds come to feed and breed such as Stonechat, Linnet, Skylark and Shelduck. You can sometimes even see Ospreys here and at the mouth of the estuary many seabirds can be observed. Whatever you’re hoping to spot, there are bird watching cabins, tourist centre and exhibition space. There are lots of boardwalks set up around the area, in order to avoid erosion of the dunes and to protect wildlife.
If you’re thinking of walking a stretch of the coast path, then you can go for the challenging section of Heritage Coast between Borth and Aberystwyth or choose to amble along the complete flat between Borth and Ynyslas, with much of it running along the edge of Cors Fochno.
Translated as Borth Bog, this area of marshland is the largest of its kind in Wales and provides a home for all manner of wildlife including snakes, slow-worms and lizards. Birds that breed here are Sedge Warblers, Teal, Water Rail, Redshank, Common Snipe and Skylark. A winter visit can still be of interest for birds - Hen Harrier, Merlin and Peregrine Falcon have all been seen hunting over Cors Fochno.
Inland, just west of Machynlleth near Dovey Junction railway station, is Cors Dyfi, the nature reserve which hosts the Dyfi Osprey Project. Visit during spring or summer to observe the Ospreys on their nest.
Our favourites of the best things to do around Borth and Ynyslas:
See more things to do in Cardigan Bay.
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