Nature Reserves and Woodlands in North and Mid Wales
Due to the varied geology and climate there is a wide diversity and abundance of wildlife and nature in the Bala area. There are many nature reserves and woodlands that can be visited from the Bala area. These include several visitor centres, woodland walks, wetlands, RSPB reserves and nature reserves.
The Bala area is rich in nature and supports a wide biodiversity - because of their importance many areas are protected with international or national conservation designations. Close to Bala are:
- Bala Lake (Llyn Tegid) is a Ramsar wetlands site of international importance.
- The Penllyn Woods around Bala comprise woodland and moorland with wildlife in abundance. The Forestry Commission woods comprising: the Wenallt, Celyn, Aberhirnant, and Penaran woods.
- The Migneint–Arenig–Dduallt SAC (Special Area of Conservation) is an area of mountains and moorland, including blanket bog, heathland and grassland,located to the west and north-west of Bala
- The Berwyn mountains, to the east and north-east of Bala, include a National Nature Reserve (NNR) and a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest)
- Cors y Sarnau Nature Reserve, situated to the north-east of Bala. This kind of habitat is a valuable wetland which is rare in the UK.
There are many nature reserves and woodlands that can be readily visited from the Bala area - a selection is given below:
Lake Vyrnwy and Visitor Centre (Tel: 01691 870278)
Around Lake Vyrnwy are woodland nature trails, and there are bird-watching hides by the lakeside. Surrounding the lake is a large RSPB nature reserve with most of the birds of the Welsh borders. Highlights include redstart, siskin, crossbill, raven, hen harrier, ring ouzel, and red squirrel. There is a visitor centre. In addition to the walking trails it is possible to hire bikes, canoes or sailing dinghies. It is possible to walk around the Lake on footpaths (12-miles).
Llyn Brenig Reservoir and Visitor Centre (01490-420 463)
The reservoir is set in 920 acres of moorland and forest in the Denbigh moors. Activities: walking (10 miles around the lake), themed trails (archaeological trail, nature trail), sailing, canoeing, children’s adventure playground, bird hide, fishing (fly fishing for trout). Facilities: Visitor Centre, Lakeside café, picnic areas, gift shop and Exhibition: Audio visual programme tells the story of Lynn Brenig. The Visitor Centre is open: 10-4.30pm every day March-October. Directions Take the B4501 (Cerrigydrudion to Denbigh) from the A5.
Coed Garth Gell Reserve (Mawddach Valley)
The RSPB Coed Garth Gell reserve is a woodland and heathland nature reserve - which lies in the hills immediately north of the Penmaenpool bridge on the spectacular Mawddach estuary. In the spring and summer, pied flycatchers, redstarts and wood warblers are prominent, with bluebells in flower and gorgeous fritillary butterflies on the wing.Come for a walk in winter and you could see siskins, lesser redpolls and, occasionally, hawfinches and lesser spotted woodpeckers. There is an attractive 3½ mile circular walk through oak wood and scrubland, making use of some of the tramways left over from long gone mine workings.
Arthog Bog (Mawddach Valley)
The wetlands is situated between Arthog and Fairbourne and has wheelchair access from the car park at Morfa Mawddach train station. Arthog Bog is a wonderful place to see weird and wonderful plants, flowers, butterflies and birds.It's one of the remaining fragments of raised bog which once would have covered much of the adjacent Mawddach Estuary. With more than 130 species of plants recorded, there are colourful displays through the year such as marsh marigold and yellow flag in the spring and hemp agrimony, meadowsweet and ragged robin through the summer. There are also many specialised ditch plants such as bog bean and greater spearwort.
Mawddach and Wnion Wetlands
On the south side of the Mawddach Estuary, and west of the confluence with the River Wnion, is an area of wetlands supporting a wide biodiversity including oak woods, grasslands and species-rich areas. The wetlands is adjacent to the Mawddach Trail between Pont y Wernddu and Penmaenpool, there are car parks at both of these locations and paths access the wetlands from the Mawddach Trail.
Coed-y-Brenin Forest Park and Visitor Centre
The Forest Park is best known for Mountain Biking, but also provides a number of waymarked all-ability and family walking trails, two running trails, a magnificent tiered children's play area, bike hire and a stunning cafe with excellent views. For more information including download walking trails go the Forestry Commission Website. The Visitor Centre with cafe and car park is located off the A470 (Dolgellau to Trawsfyndd road).
Dyfi Forest Walks
The Dyfi (Dovey) forest lies to the east and south east of Cader Idris and is surrounded by the communities of Machynlleth, Corris, Ceinws, Dinas Mawddwy, Pennal and Aberangell. The forest has a mixture of habitats and species. Many of the old structures, levels and adits are important for many rare plant species as well as bat roosts and hibernation areas. Dyfi Forest is host to common and rare species and habitats. It is this diversity that makes the forest a really interesting place to visit. There are several signed walks starting at:
- Nant Gwernol near Abergynolwyn
- Tan y Coed near Corris
- Foel Friog near Corris
Dyfi (Dovey) National Nature Reserve, Dyfed
Dyfi (Dovey) National Nature Reserve has an information centre, and detailed leaflets introduce this large nature reserve by the Dyfi (Dovey) Estuary. Visitors can explore the wildlife-rich sand dunes, estuary and peatbogs on a range of footpaths and board-walk