The Hafod Estate in Wales

While staying at Wigwam® Holidays Aberystwyth in Wales, we explored some of the local natural attractions and one of them was the Hafod Estate. Located around 12 miles south-east of the university town of Aberystwyth, Hafod Estate occupies around 495 acres of the Ystwyth valley and surrounding hills.

Peiran falls at the Hafod Estate

Originally the site had a hunting lodge for Welsh Chieftains but it gained popularity in the late 18th century when under the ownership of Thomas Johnes (landscape architect) it was developed into a beautiful, landscaped estate. Thomas Johnes inherited the Hafod Estate from his father and when he moved to the estate in 1783, he found it in poor condition and ill-maintained. And thus began his jouney of re-development of the estate. It is believed that Johnes planted more than 3 million trees at Hafod between the years of 1782 and 1813. No wonder he is considered as the pioneer of upland afforestation in Wales. You can learn more about the history of Hafod Estate here.

After Thomas Johnes, the estate changed hands many times until it was declared vacant in 1946. And by 1958 the house was derelict and subsequently demolised that year.

Today Hafod lies within a working forest. Most of it is owned and managed by Natural Resources Wales and the Hafod Trust, both of them working together to conserve and restore the historic landscape so that visitors like us can enjoy the beautiful trails, views and parklands of Hafod.

Historical Hafod Walks

There are 5 waymarked walks in Hafod.

  • Lady’s Walk (Moderate; 3.6km circuit)
  • Gentleman’s Walk (Strenuous; 6km circuit)
  • Ystwyth Gorge Walk (Moderate; 1.6km loop)
  • Coed Hafod Walk (Moderate; 1.2km one way)
  • Bedford Monument Walk (Moderate; 1.6km loop)

All of the walks take you across beautiful landscape with some sections featuring stiles, steps or steep ground. Two of the most spectacular and classic circular routes are the Lady’s Walk and the Gentleman’s Walk, with the latter being the most strenous of all the routes.

The Lady's Walk at Hafod Estate

When we visited, we planned to do the Lady’s Walk and the Ystwyth Gorge Walk as the latter can be walked as an addition to the former. However, due to the inclement weather, the Ystwyth Gorge Walk was closed at a point near the Peiran Falls and we missed seeing the popular Chain Bridge.

However, we did the Lady’s Walk and it was fabulous. Created by Thomas Johnes during his first years at Hafod, the walk takes you through varying scenery.

We began the walk at the Hafod Car Park and the first key feature of the Estate that we passed by was the Hafod Church. Johnes had hired James Wyatt, the architect of the Broadway Tower in Cotswolds, to design this church in the early 1800s. Services are still held regularly at the church.

Hafod Church

Hafod Church

Once past the church, we continued on the walk. 

The Lady's Walk at Hafod Estate

The paths are marked by coloured signs making it easy to follow. The Lady’s Walk (the blue path) then took us through a zigzagging path to the double-steped Rhaeadr Peiran (Peiran Falls). We spent some time at the top of the falls where there were two bridges and then walked to the bottom of the waterfall.

Bridge over a waterfall at Hafod Estate

Peiran Falls in the Hafod Estate

Peiran Falls in the Hafod Estate

Peiran Falls in the Hafod Estate

Peiran Falls in the Hafod Estate

The waterfall as seen from the lower path (below).

Peiran Falls in the Hafod Estate

From here, we continued to follow the path downstream. The path follows River Ystwyth and we eventually reached Mrs Johnes's Garden. This flower garden was created around 1784 by Thomas and Jane Johnes featuring a number of plants imported from the eastern side of North America. All original plantation was lost as the estate changed hands and the gardens lay neglected. In 2013, the Hafod Trust began to replant the garden and today there are again a number of North America plants in the garden.

Mrs Johnes's Garden at the Hafod Estate

From the garden we continued on the path alongside the river. There was a picnic area on the way.

The blue path eventually turned inwards and led us to the old mansion site, where you can also see the Silenus Fountain.  

The Lady's Walk at Hafod Estate

The Lady's Walk at Hafod Estate

The Lady's Walk at Hafod Estate

A short walk away from the site of the former mansion is the Hawthorn Cottage, a listed building that is available as holiday accommodation. The Lady’s Walk passes right in front of this cottage and continues ahead across grazed fields. The path then ascends up, arriving back at the car park.

It was a beautiful walk with contrasting scenery and landscapes. We enjoyed it. The other waymarked routes are also pictueresque and offer lovely views of the estate. So, you can pick any route and enjoy the beauty of Hafod.

Please note that some sections of the walk are steep and can be slippery, especially in wet weather. So, wear suitable footwear and take care.

Hafod Estate Maps are available at the begining of the trails, near the car park, priced at £2. Alternately, you can get the maps from the Tourist Information Centres locally.

The Lady's Walk at Hafod Estate

How to get to Hafod

Hafod Estate | Pont-rhyd-y-groes, Cwmystwyth, Ystrad Meurig SY25 6DX

The post code did not take us correctly to the car park. But if you keep an eye on the brown signs, it is fairly easy to locate the car park.

River Ystwyth flowing through Hafod Estate (below)

River Ystwyth flowing through Hafod Estate

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