The Kenfig National
Nature Reserve on the coast near Porthcawl is one of the country's
most important nature reserves. Covering 1300 acres, it
boasts one of the finest Wildlife habitats in Wales and one of the
last remnants of a huge sand dune system that once stretched along
the coast of Southern Wales. The reserve is home to unique
wild orchids, as well as insects and wildlife.
We recently visited the site and were taken on one of the reserve's
Land Rover safaris in the company of head warden Dave
Armed with a pair of binoculars and a camera we set off from the
visitor centre and headed out into the dunes. Dave told us
all about the site, what animals, birds and flowers we could expect
to see. He also told us about the site's fascinating
history. During the second world war, troops trained on the
reserve in preparation for the Normandy D-day landings.
Our tour continued and we arrived at Sker beach to see a Kestrel
flying above us. Sker is one of the area's hidden gems.
So remote that not many people know about its two miles of golden
sands, the only way to get there is by trekking through the dunes
from the visitor centre. So even on the hottest of days (we
do get them occasionally) this beach is always quiet.
Onwards, and this time to one of the reserve's
most secluded and most secretive areas, and secretive for a very
good reason. Here is the location for the Fen Orchid (or if
you're a Latin speaker you'll know it as the Liparis loeselii Var.
ovata). This is one of the rarest plants in the world, only
found on a handful of sites worldwide, including here at
Kenfig. We were lead around the area by Dave, being very
careful where we walked to avoid trampling this rare species.
Back into the land rover and on to Kenfig Pool, passing the remains
of Kenfig Castle on
the way. Kenfig Pool is the largest natural lake in South
Wales at 70 acres and it is home to a wide variety of birds
throughout the year.
Finally it was time for the final leg of the journey back to the
visitor centre. The whole tour took 2 ½ hours which really
emphasised just how big and varied the reserve is.
For more information on Kenfig National Nature Reserve is
Wales is of course well known for it's historic
castles and stunning countryside. But did you also know that
there are two very important coastal nature reserves along the
south coast that are of international importance.
First up is the Newport Wetlands. The reserve
offers a haven for wildlife on the edge of the city, but is a great
place for people too with a new RSPB visitor centre, a café, shop
and children's play area.
Cetti's warblers and bearded tits can be seen and heard in the
reedbeds, and ducks, geese and swans visit the reserve in large
numbers during the winter. You'll enjoy spectacular views of the
Severn estuary all year round.
Further along the coast is the Kenfig National Nature Reserve.
Set on in a beautiful area, with spectacular views from Sker
beach across Swansea Bay to the Gower. It is one of the
finest Wildlife habitats in Wales and one of the last remnants of a
huge sand dune system that once stretched along the coast of
Southern Wales. The reserve is home to unique wild orchids,
as well as insects and wildlife. Kenfig is one of the most
important sites in Britain for nature conservation.
Stroll along the boardwalk and stop at one of the bird hides
overlooking the 70-acre freshwater pool, a favourite refuge for
wildfowl at all times of the year. Wardens are often on site
to answer any queries you may have.