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  • Writer's pictureGreen Traveller

Where to stay and eat in the Dyfi Biosphere, West Wales

As part of our Green Traveller's Guide to the Dyfi Biosphere, Florence Fortnam picks out a selection of characterful places to stay and places selling locally produced seasonal food.

There are two main ingredients which combine to create fabulous places to stay in the Dyfi Biosphere. Firstly, the natural landscape: if your idea of the perfect rural retreat involves inspiring views and breathtaking setting, you will be spoilt for choice in this little pocket of Wales. The second element is the friendly, characterful owners: it is their spirit and hard work that makes a stay at a rustic farmhouse comfortable or a week at a no-frills campsite memorable. They work tirelessly to create a holiday experience that will stick in your memory, long after you have left. They are all taking steps to ensure that their business doesn't impact negatively on the landscape and they deserve our recognition.

Google map: shows the location and details of all the places to stay, local food and drink, nearby visitor attractions and activities in our Green Traveller's Guide to the Dyfi Biosphere:

Green = Places to stay Blue = Local food & drink Yellow = Attractions Purple = Activities

Places to stay

We have picked out some of the best places to stay, from heavenly hotels and beautiful B&Bs to cool campsites, all chosen for their commitment to preserving their patch of West Wales and encouraging their guests to connect with the local landscape.

Ynyshir Hall

This grand old 15th-century house has had its fair share of noble owners, but none as illustrious as Queen Victoria, who refurbished the hall and planted many of the trees in the gardens that encircle the house today. The hotel’s nine bedrooms – named after artists – are adorned in a sumptuous palate of dramatic reds, deep purples and shocking pinks – Matisse has candyfloss striped wallpaper; Renoir has a Louis VIII style bed and mountain views. Head chef Paul Croasdale uses local ingredients – seafood from Cardigan Bay, Welsh Black beef, herbs and vegetables from the kitchen garden, and wild garlic and mushrooms from the surrounding woodland – to create inventive fare in the elegant restaurant.

Hendy Farm

There can’t be too many places to stay in this world where you can arrive by steam train; this 250-acre farm has it’s own stop on the Talyllyn Narrow Gauge Railway! Hendy Farm is a family-run sheep and cattle farm on the edge of the Dyfi Biosphere and guests are free to roam the farmland and meet the animals. Three comfortable and homely bedrooms are decked out in floral bedspreads and pale yellow walls, and there’s a separate sitting room should guests want to stick their feet up. The seaside town of Tywyn is a short walk away and there’s plenty of walking opportunities from the door.

The Old Coach House

This self -contained one bedroom cottage, extensively refurbished in 2016, has an open plan kitchen, dining and sitting area on the ground floor. The toilet has been fitted with a reduced flush system, while five water butts provide all the water necessary to feed the garden and chemical-free laundry products are bought in bulk. There are separate recycling bins in the barn. Food waste is used as compost on the garden, helping the site's own fruit and veg to grow. The rest of the food used is sourced locally wherever possible, including meat from an award-winning local butcher, fish from an award-winning fishmonger in Aberdyfi and local butter, eggs, yoghurt and milk. Both cyclist and walker friendly, the owners are willing to pick guests up from the nearest train station. Situated within the Snowdonia National Park, which itself covers some 823 square miles of diverse landscapes, the Old Coach House is in an ideal location to explore the largest National Park in Wales.

Treehouse Living Room

Be carried – from the woodland floor to the tree canopy – via a sweeping spiral staircase: an architectural wonder in wood. Stripped branches are knotted together to create wonderfully wonky fences, their knobbly imperfections contrasting beautifully against the sleek, modern pods. Inside, the Hobbit-esque tree houses are neatly divided into living and sleeping quarters with portholes and glass doors, wood-burners for cosy evenings, and Scandinavian-inspired beds and chairs. There are five Treehouses, each as unique as the trees in which they are built. They are nestled in a hidden valley, in the heart of the Welsh mountains ... close to the sea and to the end of the hippy trail. Built with care, to blend seamlessly with the beautiful woodlands - a world away from the pressures of modern life and complete with cosy wood-burning stoves, flickering candles, fast flowing streams, wobbly bridges, whirling red kites, breathtaking walks and a gorgeous tree-top home. Each treehouses feature a luxurious double bed and fold down bunk beds - offering comfortable accommodation for two adults and two children (an extra child can often be accommodated on a day bed if required) and is cosy and highly insulated. Lovely to live in all year round, each treehouse has a woodburning stove which heats the treehouse beautifully; it also heats the water that falls from the spring water shower. There is a kitchen - with everything you need to rustle up a tree-top banquet and an ensuite Swedish compost toilet, high in the treetops and with no electricity at Treehouse; you will light your way with lanterns, tea lights and lamps, for an air of romance and peace. Exceptional!

Yr Hen Stablau Self-Catering

A true home from home experience in a lovely barn conversion. Come for wildflowers in spring, lake swimming in summer, forests ablaze with colour in autumn and the snowcapped mountains in winter. Yr Hen Stablau is a recently renovated 1840s stables set in luxuriant gardens on a wooded hillside overlooking the beautiful Dyfi Valley near Machynlleth, and in the south corner of Snowdonia. The stables conversion was designed to preserve existing walls and features, use original stone, slates and timbers, and make the building energy efficient.

Hendy Farm

There can’t be too many places to stay in this world where you can arrive by steam train; this 250-acre farm has it’s own stop on the Talyllyn Narrow Gauge Railway! Hendy Farm is a family-run sheep and cattle farm on the edge of the Dyfi Biosphere and guests are free to roam the farmland and meet the animals. Three comfortable and homely bedrooms are decked out in floral bedspreads and pale yellow walls, and there’s a separate sitting room should guests want to stick their feet up. The seaside town of Tywyn is a short walk away and there’s plenty of walking opportunities from the door.


Two pretty stone holiday cottages – Helygen and Eithinog – sit side by side with fabulous views over the Cambrian Mountains; perfectly placed for walkers and those wishing to visit Dyfi's nature reserves and coast. Inside, you'll find gleaming wooden floors and spacious open-plan living areas with cosy wood-burning stoves; generous bedrooms have chunky wooden beds and rolling green views. You're spoilt for choice for things to do in the area: explore the surrounding countryside on foot, head to the coast or, if you can't tear yourself away, sit back and soak up those views from the comfort of your cottage.

Morben Isaf Holiday Home & Touring Park

Bag yourself a pitch at the highest point and you’re guaranteed sea views, but no matter where you set up tent on this gently hilly site, the views over surrounding countryside are superb. The Cors Dyfi reserve is just a few minutes’ walk, although the campsite has it’s own community of feathered friends and a hide for ultra keen twitchers. There’s also a well-stocked fishing pool and children’s playground.

Eco Retreats

Run by Michael and ChaNan Bonser, these four tipis and one yurt are spread out over 50 acres, each one offering its own unique and secluded atmosphere, either beside a stream, surrounded by woodland or looking out over the rolling hills. Each of the tipis has organic bed linen and sheepskin rugs, and is lit by a good number of candles, lanterns, and a central wood burning 'chimenea'. Each yurt also has its own washing and toilet unit, with a fresh spring-water shower just outside. You have to heat up your own water so you can keep a count on how much you’re using. The large yurt offers similar organic produce, wood burner, and furnishings from either local, recycled or fair trade sources. Everything that can be recycled is recycled, with some waste going to swap shops and recycle centres. As there is no restaurant on site, the owners are keen to recommend eateries that are part of the slow food movement and smaller, independent shops. Eco Retreats has developed a comprehensive sustainability plan in order to present as little harm to the environment as possible. No electricity is used on site, and even the washing up liquid, cleaning products, soaps and shampoos need to adhere to strict biodegradable and ecological criteria. In addition, all of the food products you'll find in the welcome hamper have to have passed organic and fair-trade screenings. The owners offer sessions in both reiki and spiritual healing to help guests fully unwind and relax during their stay. With 1,300 acres of organic farm to explore, the site is also close to Cadair Idris, one of Wales' highest mountains, to the north and the fantastic beaches of Aberdyfi and Ynys Las to the west and south.

Centre for Alternative Technology

CAT is an internationally renowned visitor centre, research and residential centre, entirely powered solely by wind, solar and hydro technology. Covering all aspects of green living - from woodland management to renewal energy and environmental building - the centre runs courses on sustainable living, as well as educational programmes for schools and graduate training programmes. There are seven acres of interactive displays, and a shop and vegetarian restaurant on site. There are also two basic eco cabins on site – and as you expect for a centre committed to alternative energy, they are exemplary green places to stay - hot water is heated by the woodstove or solar panels, and wind and water turbines provide electricity.

Places to eat

The Dyfi Biosphere is good news for those who relish the thought of treating their tastebuds to good, local, seasonal food on holiday. Fringed by the coast and the Dyfi estuary, and blanketed by moorland and woodland – and with a staunch regional commitment to preserving the agricultural heritage – the region is, not surprisingly, heaven for foodies.

Catches of fish, plucked fresh from the coast, grace the plates of restaurants throughout the region – from seabass to mussels – and the River Dyfi and the estuary offer up an abundance of salmon and sea trout. Welsh Black cattle and lamb graze on open moorland and there are numerous dairy farms dotted around the region – local food producers, not supermarkets, determine what ends up on restaurant menus. From pubs serving innovative dishes to family-friendly cafés in the heart of the region, the Dyfi Biosphere has an exciting food scene; here are a few places to get you started.


Head chef Gareth sources all his ingredients within 50 miles: immersed in one of the world’s finest natural larders, why go further afield? Food follows the slow food principles of “Good, clean and fair”. Tuck into local fare, such as Cardigan Bay fish casserole or local pheasant breast, and wash it all down with a glass of Pennarth wine – the vineyard is a few miles away. Real ales from the length and breadth of the country find themselves behind the bar here and, if you’re lucky, your visit might coincide with an impromptu gig from a local choir or band.

Riverside Hotel Pennal/Glan Yr Afon

With over 25 years of experience in the hospitality business behind them, Glyn and Corina have branched out on their own to create a place to eat that combines the sort of fine dining experience you might find in a top restaurant with the warm welcome and atmosphere of a country pub. Pop in for a pint, stay for dinner – Aberdyfi seabass (from a coastal town a few miles west) on herby mash, followed by a trio of Welsh cheeses, perhaps? – or curl up in the cwtch (‘snug’, in Welsh) with a good book. Glyn is a keen artist and his work decorates walls. If you want to prolong your stay here, why not book a night at their B&B a few minutes’ walk away?

The Machinations Café

From crowd-pleasers, such as lasagne or shepherd’s pie, to a huge range of cakes and sweet treats (the lemon drizzle or apple pie are not to be missed), The Machinations Café serves local food with a friendly service. All their dairy products and meat are sourced from within Wales, such as their fantastic free-range pork sausages.

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