The Hafod Estate
We’d never heard of the Hafod Estate before seeking some walking recommendations at the pretty little tourist Information Centre on the quayside of Aberaeron. Here the helpful advisor, in a rich Welsh accent, proclaimed the Hafod Estate to be ”gorgeous”, which was enough of a recommendation for us.
Hafod is tucked away down some small country lanes, to the East of the Ceredigion coast, in the Ystwyth valley about an hour or so’s drive from Aberaeron.
The Estate has a rich history, stretching from pre English reformation times, passing through the Herbert family, before ending up under the ownership of the biggest influence on present day Hafod , the visionary Thomas Johnes (1748-181).
Johnes inherited the estate in 1780, moved there in 1783, and set about building a new mansion house (which stood for a brief 22 years, before being destroyed by fire), but most notably, transforming the landscape to one of Picturesque beauty.
A staggering 3 million trees were planted during Johnes stewardship, across 1000+ acres. New farm buildings and a range of pathways and bridges were also constructed, and many of these have now been cleared and maintained to an exceptionally high standard by the great work of the Forestry Commission and Hafod Trust.
Walking the great estate today, it is still possible to see the vision that Johnes had in mind 200 years ago. While the original Johnes mansion, and it’s later replacement, are sadly both long gone, what does remain are 200 hectares of glorious undulating Welsh countryside, crisscrossed with pathways of varying grades, and a diverse landscape including forestry, pastureland and at the centre, the Afon (River) Ystwyth.
We set off from the car park on the longer Lady’s Walk, which can be combined with half of the Gentleman’s Walk, to make a hike of about 10+ miles. This takes in much of the best of the Estate, including the river, numerous waterfalls, and woodland. The Estate is big enough to be able to provide a feeling of wonderful solitude and tranquility, even in peak Summer.
At the conclusion of our walk, we both agreed with our Aberaeron tourist lady’s recommendation, for Hafod truly is gorgeous.