Brechfa Forest (Fforest Brechfa) lies in the heart of Carmarthenshire in West Wales. A mixture of ancient forest and managed woodland, it is an important area of wildlife conservation and recreation. Its hilly acres are open to the public and free to use, providing beautiful circular routes for walkers, cyclists and horse riders to explore. The forest is also notable for its specially designed mountain biking trails. It is very accessible, in particular from the M4 motorway, and is near to the Brecon Beacons and the lower edge of the Cambrian Mountains.
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Looking for places to stay near Brechfa Forest? See cottages in the Brechfa Forest area.
Brechfa Forest in the Cothi Valley
Brechfa Forest covers nearly 18,000 acres in the picturesque Cothi Valley. Here you can head off the beaten track along secluded paths to peaceful little villages and explore the river banks of both the River Cothi and River Towy (Afon Tywi).
The Cothi is the largest tributary of the River Towy and both are noted not only for their beautiful scenery, but also for their fine fishing. They are two of the major sea trout (sewin) and salmon rivers in the UK - in fact, the Towy is recognised as one of the finest sea trout rivers in Europe.
Between April and September, sewin and salmon can be caught almost anywhere along its length from the under-fished upper stretches near Llandovery to the lower section at Carmarthen. The river Towy is famous too for its night time sewin fishing.
The Cothi Valley is also home to the only known Roman gold mines in the whole of the UK, the Dolaucothi gold mines, set amid wooded hillsides overlooking the Valley.
Brechfa Forest itself is a haven for wildlife - swallows swoop low over the paths in the summer, nesting in nearby farms. The area is an important nesting ground for many species of birds.
The trees are alive with leaping squirrels and thousands of rabbits graze the grass in the open fields next to the forest. Sometimes it is even possible to see lizards basking on a warm rock in the summer sun. Even the rarer pine marten makes its home in the quieter glades.
Mountain biking in Brechfa Forest
There are specially-designed mountain bike trails in the forest to suit all abilities and experience, from hair-raising rides at lightning pace to more moderate trails. To help decide on the right trail for you, take a look at the Trail Grading Chart on the Mountain Biking Wales website.
Black Route: The black Raven trail (severe level) is a real challenge with big climbs and super fun descents. Suitable only for proficient bikers, the trail mixes the more traditional narrow woodland single tracks with fast, undulating trail that sweeps between trees and flows sinuously into berms and over jumps.
This challenging trail takes you out into the more interesting corners of the forest and creates a ride that involves the forest’s environment, from mossy overhangs to the magnificent Douglas Fir.
Red Route: The red Gorlech trail (difficult level) is fast becoming a classic on the Welsh trail centre network with its fast berm sections and jump style of trail. Named after the river Gorlech, this trail combines views and scenery with challenging terrain and excitement: big climbs and incredible downhills.
The hard, fast, all weather surface becomes more and more exciting as your skill and speed increase. The Gorlech red route puts Brechfa firmly on the map as a top mountain biking destination.
Green and Blue Route: The green Derwen trail (easy level) and its blue (moderate level) extension offer a really good ride as an introduction to mountain biking. Clinging low to the valley sides, this trail eases you in with a minimum of climbs which are quite steady and fun descents weaving through the forest. A real 'fun for all' trail, suitable for everyone from young families to experienced mountain bikers.
Walking in Brechfa forest
For a more leisurely exploration of the forest, there are plenty of wonderful walks of varying lengths. Paths wind through beautiful broad-leaved forest, open forest glades and past ancient abandoned stone buildings.
Car parking is available at Keeper's Lodge and the picnic site at Bergwym. There is another lovely picnic site at Abergorlech from where the waymarked path follows the river Gorlech as it meanders through the forest and under great cathedral-like canopies of beech, past waterfalls and over a strange, curved, wooden bridge, straight out of 'Lord of the Rings'!
Further Brechfa and Byrgwym walks will lead to tranquil glades and places of beauty and solitude amongst the trees.
The wider forest tracks provide safe off-road cycling for those who don't fancy the adrenaline rush of the mountain biking trails. The tracks and the forest itself combine with bridle ways in the surrounding land to provide a wide choice of routes for horse riders.