Cwm Rheidol from Devil's Bridge Trail runningWalking

It may not visit any summits, but this wiggly circuit around the middle reaches of Cwm Rheidol has plenty of hills. With moss-carpeted oak woods, surprising river gorges and rolling sheep country, this varied route is a great way to get to know a very scenic part of Mid Wales. Basing the day around the touristy village of Pontarfynach (Devil's Bridge) allows for an additional circular detour to view the famous triple bridge over the Mynach gorge, a dramatic visitor attraction that's absolutely worth paying for (do the longer and more expensive of the two options). The nearby Hafod Hotel bar is the obvious place to end up.

Cwm Rheidol from the Mynach Falls path  © Dan Bailey -
Cwm Rheidol from the Mynach Falls path
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Detailed description

SN7416877237 From the car park, make your way to the Devil's Bridge. On the east side of the bridge is the entry gate for the Waterfalls and Nature Trail, a circular 100m descent and re-ascent around the Mynach falls, highlights being the spectacularly steep steps of Jacob's Ladder, and a little old iron footbridge at the bottom of the gorge. Climb back out to emerge opposite the Alpine chalet-style Hafod Hotel.

SN7407477071 Head past the train station to the west end of the village, then turn north onto a footpath, part of the Borth to Devil's Bridge to Pontrhydfendigaid Trail. This runs through the woods parallel to the railway for about 1km. Cross the tracks with care and continue downhill into the ancient oak woods of Coed Rheidol National Nature reserve; it's steep, and can be muddy. The path soon swings left to reach a bridge over the broad, fast-flowing Afon Rheidol.
In the Coed Rheidol National Nature Reserve  © Dan Bailey -
In the Coed Rheidol National Nature Reserve
© Dan Bailey -

SN7273278196 Head back east on the minor road, following the river upstream. Beyond the houses at Pant-y-ddwyriw the tarmac road becomes an unsurfaced forest track. Where this begins to run uphill stay slightly right on a footpath along a field edge above a cottage. Beyond here the path continues east into the woods above the Rheidol gorge. Once opposite the Mynach Falls, the trail climbs very steeply in quite a spectacular position, to reach a gate at the upper edge of the Nature Reserve.

SN7413577611 Head back west, then north, on an often-muddy farm track along the field edge above the wooded Afon Tuen. From the farm at Penrhiw go east down an extremely muddy field and across a footbridge to reach a minor road. Follow this to the farm at Llwyn Teifi Uchaf. Beyond the farm continue north on a track, then branch right onto a footpath descending along the edge of a new woodland plantation. Before the farmhouse at Dolgamfa the trail cuts hard right, then descends through woods to Parson's Bridge, crossing an impressive gorge on the Afon Rheidol.
The Rheidol gorge from Parson's Bridge  © Dan Bailey -
The Rheidol gorge from Parson's Bridge
© Dan Bailey -

SN7488979061 Ascend very steeply, up left and then back right. Just below the upper edge of the woods the path splits; take the right fork - slightly exposed for a couple of metres - to reach sheep pastures above the woods. The right of way now runs south, crossing a little stream in a very boggy hollow to reach the A4120. Follow the verge south past Erwbarfe Farm caravan park.

SN7487478021 At a bend in the road take a footpath south across fields, then contouring around the base of a hill to pass a small oak wood above another caravan park. Continue south below the steep hillside, descending to another footbridge in the wooded Mynach gorge.

SN7490076469 The path climbs steeply west. Leave the woods, and briefly follow the B4574; this road leads quickly back to Devil's Bridge, but if you want to prolong the walk slightly go west, on a footpath that becomes a farm track, then head north to reach the village near the railway station.

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