Hafren Forest, near Llanidloes

What's here

Welcome

Planted by the Forestry Commission in the 1930s, Hafren Forest is named after Afon Hafren (the Welsh name for the River Severn).

The source of the River Severn is in a peat bog on the slopes of Pumlumon, Mid Wales’ highest mountain. In no time at all it becomes a torrent with falls and cascades plunging headlong through the forest.

A walk along one of the trails, which are waymarked from the car park, is a great way to enjoy this beautiful river.

The longest route takes you to the source of the Severn, just outside the forest’s boundary.

The shorter trails go to waterfalls within the forest, including the famous Severn-Break-its-Neck.

Hafren Forest is also home to many public footpaths and bridleways and it is the starting point for two long distance walks.

There are pleasant picnic areas near the car park and a riverside accessible trail to a viewing platform over the cascades.

Walking trails

The walking trails are waymarked from start to finish.

Look out for the information panel at the start of the trails in the main car park (Rhyd-y-benwch).

Find out about walking trail grades.

Cascades Walk

  • Grade: Accessible
  • Distance: ½ mile/0.9 kilometres
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Trail information: The trail follows a sloping path from the car park to the boardwalk. It returns on a well surfaced wide path through the forest.

The Cascades Walk goes down to a boardwalk along the riverbank and along the side of the tumbling cascades.

Here there is a raised platform to enjoy the view before returning through the forest to the car park. 

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Severn-Break-its-Neck Trail

  • Grade: Moderate
  • Distance: 1¾ miles/2.8 kilometres
  • Time: 1 hour 
  • Trail information: The trail follows a level path along the river, before going up some steps to a boardwalk through the meadow and then onto a stoned path to the waterfall. There are steep narrow steps down to the bridge over the waterfall, and a short but steep climb back onto the forest road which the trail follows back to the car park.

The Severn-Break-its-Neck Trail sets off alongside the river and then goes through a wildflower meadow with a boardwalk section.

It crosses a footbridge where the River Severn thunders down a gully and forms the famous Severn-Break-its-Neck waterfall.

It returns to the car park on a forest road with views across the forest.

Severn Break its Neck Trail

Blaen Hafren Falls Trail

  • Grade: Moderate
  • Distance: 3¾ miles/6 kilometres
  • Time: 1½ hours 
  • Trail description: The trail follows a well-surfaced path with compact gravel and loose stones to the waterfall. It returns on a forest road. There are some steep ascents and descents and several benches along the route.

This scenic route goes through the heart of the forest alongside the River Severn to Blaen Hafren Falls.

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Source of the Severn Trail

  • Grade: Strenuous
  • Distance: 8 miles/13 kilometres
  • Time: 4½ hours
  • Trail information: The trail sets out on a well-surfaced path with compact gravel and loose stones. The there-and-back section to the source of the Severn is on stone slabs and a path of loose stone; there may be sheep on this section. The return route is via forest road and a narrow loose shale riverside path. Some steep ascents and descents and several benches along the route.

The Source of the Severn Trail leads alongside the river and through the forest to Blaen Hafren Falls.

It then climbs steeply to the forest boundary and onto a stone path through boggy moorland to the Severn’s source on Pumlumon - the source is marked by a carved wooden post.

The trail passes by some heritage features including a standing stone and the remains of a mine and a farmstead - look out for the information panels along the route.

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Long distance walking routes 

Wye Valley Walk

The Wye Valley Walk is a 136 mile long distance walk along the River Wye to Chepstow. 

Hafren Forest is the start (or end) point for this linear walk.

For more information see the Wye Valley Walk website.

Severn Way

The Severn Way is a 210 mile long distance walk to Bristol.

Hafren Forest is the start (or end) point for this linear route.

For more information see the Long Distance Walkers Association website.

Sarn Sabrina

Sarn Sabrina is a 25 mile circular waymarked walk, part of which passes through Hafren Forest.

The route is named after the Celtic myth of Sabrina, a water nymph said to inhabit the waters of the River Severn.

For more information, see the Sarn Sabrina website.

Long distance cycle route

The Sustrans National Cycle Network route 8 (Lôn Las Cymru) follows the minor road through Hafren Forest.

For more information see the Sustrans website.

Ospreys in Hafren Forest

Ospreys spend the summer by a reservoir in Hafren Forest called Llyn Clywedog.

These large birds of prey return to Africa in late August.

You can watch the live feed from one of the osprey nests during the breeding season (normally March to August).

Two live stream cameras film the nest 24 hours a day.

Camera 1 is focused on the nest and camera 2 has a wider angle showing the nest and two nearby perches.

The cameras run on separate live streams so you can watch both camera feeds at the same time.

Accessibility information

Facilities include:

  • parking for Blue Badge holders
  • accessible toilets 
  • Cascades Walk accessible trail was designed in partnership with local disabled associations. The viewing platform over the falls has an accessible picnic bench.

Family group

National Forest for Wales

Hafren Forest forms part of the National Forest for Wales.

The National Forest will:

  • create areas of new woodland
  • enhance existing woodlands
  • restore Wales’ irreplaceable ancient woodlands.

In time it will form a connected ecological network running throughout Wales, bringing social, economic and environmental benefits.

For more information about the National Forest for Wales go to the Welsh Government website.

Closures and diversions

  • Sometimes we need to close or divert trails for your safety whilst we undertake maintenance work or other operations.
  • We may have to close a site in extreme weather, such as high winds or snow and ice, due to the risk of injury to visitors or staff.
  • Please always follow any instructions on site and any temporary diversion signs.

How to get here

Location

Hafren Forest is 6 miles west of Llanidloes. 

It is in the county of Powys.

Ordnance Survey map

Hafren Forest is on Ordnance Survey (OS) map Explorer 214.

The OS grid reference is SN 857 869.

Directions

Follow Short Bridge Street out of Llanidloes - there is a brown and white sign for Hafren Forest on the side of the town hall. Cross the river and bear left.

Follow this narrow road for 6½ miles, passing through Old Hall, and the Rhyd-y-benwch car park is on the left.

Public transport

The nearest mainline railway station is in Caersws. 

For details of public transport visit the Traveline Cymru website. 

Parking

The main car park is Rhyd-y-Benwch.

Car parking is free of charge here.

Overnight parking is not permitted.

Contact details

There are no staff at this location.

Contact our customer team for general enquiries during office hours, Monday to Friday.

Related document downloads

Hafren Forest leaflet PDF [13.3 MB]

Other places in Mid Wales

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