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Cae Blaen-dyffryn in Carmarthenshire and Caeau Tan-y-Bwlch in Caernarfonshire are Plantlife’s 2 Welsh nature reserves, where we protect & restore grassland.
Cae Blaen-dyffryn is a beautifully flower-rich grassland lying on a ridge above Lampeter, in Carmarthenshire, Wales. Species-rich grasslands of the type we find here were once common across Wales, but they are now very rare. We know that the nature reserve has never been intensively farmed or agriculturally improved. Fortunately, this means that its special features have been preserved. Indeed, they are such good examples of their type that the nature reserve is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
The nature reserve is a single large field, ‘Cae’ means ‘field’. It slopes upwards, steeply in places, before levelling off at 340m above sea level.
The upper slopes are dry grassland. Here you can find:
Other treasures you can find in the dry grassland include butterfly orchids. Greater Butterfly Orchid Platanthera chlorantha and Lesser Butterfly Orchid Platanthera bifolia both grow here in abundance. In June you can see thousands of white and pink flowering spikes of orchids scattered across the hill.
At the bottom of the hill, drainage is poor, so a boggy habitat has formed. This is home to big tussocks of purple moor-grass and rush. Flowers you will see here include:
If you are lucky in the high summer, you might even catch sight of the threatened Marsh Fritillary butterfly Euphydras aurinia. In autumn, the bright colours of waxcap fungi start to appear.
We manage Cae Blaen-dyffryn primarily through low-intensity cattle grazing, and limiting the spread of scrub over the grassland.
Greater Butterfly Orchid at Caeau Tan y Bwlch © Robbie Blackhall-Miles – Plantlife
Caeau Tan y Bwlch lies on the hillside above Clynnog Fawr, at the eastern end of the Llŷn peninsula, Wales. Its name means “the fields below the mountain pass”. This nature reserve is owned by Plantlife, but managed by North Wales Wildlife Trust, with whom we work closely.
Like Cae Blaen-dyffryn, the land at this nature reserve has not been greatly disturbed in living memory. Its history of gentle farming and more recently, careful management as a nature reserve, have protected it. The result is a nature reserve of sufficient importance that it too has been designated a SSSI.
The nature reserve is made up of a number of small, historic field enclosures. The upper fields are species rich hay meadows, and contain a growing population of Greater Butterfly Orchids. In these top fields you will also find:
The lower fields are damper, and filled with taller plants like Purple Moor Grass Molinia caerulea and rushes. You will also find sedges, Sneezewort Achillea ptarmica, Marsh Violet Viola palustris and much more.
The Wildlife Trust manages these important habitats through sensitive livestock grazing, taking a summer hay crop, and managing the bracken and scrub.
As well as fantastic habitats, you will find the reserve also provides magnificent views towards Anglesey and Snowdonia. Features of cultural interest include the stone-faced banks that enclose the fields, called “clawdd”.
You can access this nature reserve from the A482 south of Lampeter at SN605443 (SA48 8EZ). No dogs please.
You can find more information about the nature reserve, how to visit, and how to get involved, on North Wales Wildlife Trust’s website here.
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