Walk of the month: Welsh wildlife - even better close up in Ynyshir

Ospreys are the main draw as Mark Rowe ticks off his bird-spotting list near the base of the BBC's 'Springwatch'

The frustrating thing about wildlife programmes is that when you visit the locations featured in, let's say, BBC's Springwatch, the animals in question are frequently uncooperative and elusive. But by the time I've climbed up a winding lane above Ynyshir, the base once again for this year's Springwatch – which starts again on BBC2 tomorrow – my bird-spotting list has several ticks on it: swallows, nuthatches (which look like they've been drawn with a cobalt-coloured crayon) and redpolls (a fetching dab of lipstick red on its crest) have fluttered past. Somewhere in the Dyfi estuary below is Monty, the love-hungry osprey and something of a television celebrity in his own right, whose breeding fortunes have waxed and waned over the years. Every time I look up there seems to be a red kite hanging in the air.

Then there are the mountains: Snowdonia is on the doorstep of Ynyshir and the lump of Cadair Idris makes for a gorgeous backdrop. Ahead of me are smaller conical hills that seem smooth enough to stroke. Sheep nudge up the burnished flanks at nerveless, improbable angles.

Ynyshir is an extremely remote place, a finger of land on the far edge of the exceedingly remote Cambrian mountains. The name ynyshir translates as "long island" and this is a place of rolling dunes, peat bogs and marshland that frame the River Dyfi as it opens into the Irish Sea.

My walk had begun though with a less bucolic tang in the functionally named and tiny hamlet of Furnace, which enjoyed a fleeting heyday as a centre for iron production in the 18th century. A giant water wheel is still here, pinned to the broken remains of the foundry. Behind is a lovely waterfall.

I turn uphill along a small lane signposted as Cwm Einion, or the Artist's Valley, after the Victorian painters who fell in love with this part of west Wales and often came here to capture its beauty.

Soon, I'm on a series of lonely tracks that wind between small hills, rolling farmland and brush against woods of ash and rowan. The path, part of which is an old Roman road known as Sarn Helen, eventually rises to give high views of the Dyfi estuary far below and I see what Sue Wilson, a local guide, meant when she recommended this route to me. "It's the diversity of this particular walk which appeals and the views, sometimes glimpsed, sometimes unrolling around you," she said.

Later, the track joins a remote lane at a hairpin bend. It's a lovely, lonely walk, with sheep and weeks-old lambs filling the surrounding fields. The lane divides several farming communities, with bumpy flanks on either side leading to woodland clusters full of birdsong.

I turn off the lane to follow the Welsh Coast Path over streams and footbridges. The streams add a surprising variety to the walk, some are raging, others are just a trickle. They can be more awkward to reach than rivers and here they are often the last places that have not been grazed by sheep. Look around and you may find wild anemones and remnant plants that you don't find in other places.

Passing in and out of woodland cover, the views frequently open up over the Dyfi estuary, which has become a stronghold for this charismatic bird. Monty and his mate should have lit the fire by now and it's well worth following up this walk with a trip to the nearby Osprey project visitor centre, run by the Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust, which has high-resolution cameras focused on their nest. The ospreys may be the main draw, but there are dozens of other birds to spot that you won't see in an urban garden, such as siskins, nightjars and snipe.

Further east are views of the RSPB Ynyshir reserve, with lines of silver birch, sessile oak and marshland. Returning to the Furnace, I edge along the road for 200 metres to the Ynyshir nature reserve. The inviting grounds of Ynyshir Hall, a luxury county hotel, make a relaxing place for afternoon tea. Giant tree specimens such as sequoia and wellingtonia add notes of grace to the grounds, along with an elegant Persian ironwood planted by Queen Victoria (who once owned the house). Red kites, buzzards, swallows, frogs and other creatures, great and small, float or crawl by if you linger here.

Mission Control for Springwatch is just behind the hotel so, come the last week of May and the first fortnight of June, when filming takes place, there's a chance of spotting further examples of plumped-up, preening wildlife. But this gorgeous fragment of Wales is best enjoyed on foot, not on TV.

The route

Distance: Five miles (8km)

Time: 2-2.5 hours

OS map: OL23 Cadair Idris & Llyn Tegid

Directions: From Furnace water wheel, follow Cwm Einion lane uphill and then take the footpath sign at the bend in the road. Continue over the crossing of paths, following the Welsh Coast Path sign. After 50 metres, keep ahead when the coast path bears right. Follow the path to some farm buildings, dog-leg across a new gravel road, and keep ahead to join a lane on a hairpin bend. Turn right. After passing farms and houses, turn right over a stile, following the Welsh Coast Path signs and posts. Rejoin the path above Cwm Einion lane, and turn left downhill to Furnace.

Travel essentials

Getting there

The nearest railway station is at Dovey Junction, served by Arriva Trains Wales (08457 48 49 50; nationalrail.co.uk).

Staying there

Mark Rowe stayed at Ynyshir Hall hotel ( 01654 781209; ynyshirhall.co.uk) which offers double rooms from £220 including breakfast.

More information

Dyfi Osprey Project: dyfiospreyproject.com

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Life and Style
A small bag of the drug Ecstasy
Health
Life and Style
Floral-print swim shorts, £26, by Topman, topman.com; sunglasses, £215, by Paul Smith, mpaulsmith.co.uk
FashionBag yourself the perfect pair
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Extras
indybest
News
i100
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    SQL DBA/ C# Developer - T-SQL, C#.Net

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Day In a Page

    Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

    Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

    In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
    Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

    How has your club fared in summer sales?

    Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
    Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

    'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

    Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
    The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

    The best swim shorts for men

    Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
    Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

    Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

    Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup