Kenfig Nature Reserve

Kenfig Nature Reserve is a stunning natural oasis located in Bridgend. With its diverse ecosystems and breathtaking landscapes, the reserve is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers. Situated in the heart of South Wales, Kenfig Nature Reserve offers a unique blend of coastal dunes, freshwater lakes, and rich grasslands.

Visitors can explore the reserve’s trails, observe a wide variety of bird species, and immerse themselves in the beauty of this remarkable natural gem.

I came upon Kenfig Nature Reserve at the very end of the Bridgend section of the Wales Coast Path. Sker Beach lay out before me, its own huge history of shipwrecks. leading me inland to explore more.

view of Kenfig Nature Reserve

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History and Background

The green covered rolling dunes were all I could see as far as I looked. A place to wander through in nature, a very unique nature. Walking over the sand as I learnt more I realised that history lay before my feet.

Kenfig, the original town of Kenfig was buried under the sand in the middle ages. The wind and drifting dunes covered what was once a thriving place. Hard to believe when you look at it now, nature takes its toll in so many powerful ways. The green over the dunes came from a much later plan to stop the sand tide taking over more land.

sand and dunes Kenfig Nature Reserve

Here are some significant events and milestones related to the reserve:

  • The history of Kenfig Nature Reserve dates back thousands of years, as it was once a thriving medieval town known as Kenfig. The town was established around the 12th century and served as an important port and trading center.

  • In the early 14th century, the town of Kenfig was gradually abandoned due to the encroaching sand dunes. The shifting sands eventually engulfed the town, burying it completely and creating what is now known as Kenfig Burrows, a vast sand dune system.

  • The Kenfig Burrows and surrounding area were designated as a nature reserve in 1989, recognizing its ecological importance and rich biodiversity.

  • Kenfig Nature Reserve is renowned for its diverse range of habitats, including a large freshwater lake, sand dunes, saltmarshes, and reed beds. These habitats attract a wide variety of bird species, making it a popular destination for birdwatchers.

  • In 2006, Kenfig National Nature Reserve, which includes the nature reserve and the adjacent sand dunes, was officially designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) by Natural Resources Wales. This designation signifies the site’s significance for its unique flora and fauna.

  • The reserve is home to a number of rare and endangered species, including the fen orchid and the scarce blue-tailed damselfly. These species thrive in the diverse range of habitats provided by the reserve.

  • Kenfig Nature Reserve is also known for its historical and archaeological importance. The remains of Kenfig Castle, a once-impressive medieval fortress, can still be seen within the reserve. The castle played a significant role in the defense of the area during the medieval period.

  • The reserve is actively managed by conservation organizations and local authorities to preserve its natural beauty and protect its fragile ecosystems. Regular monitoring and restoration efforts are carried out to maintain the habitats and support the diverse wildlife.

  • Over the years, Kenfig Nature Reserve has become an important educational and recreational resource for the local community and visitors. It offers nature trails, guided walks, and educational programs to promote awareness and understanding of the local environment.

Prince Of Wales Pub

After wandering the dunes I was a little parched so headed to the Prince of Wales Pub.

In the 1600s as the old Kenfig was abandoned to escape from the sand, this pub was originally the Town Hall.

inside kenfig prince of wales pub

The food was incredible! Local sourced meats combined with my try and enjoyment of Laverbread. Upstairs I was treated to an enthusiastic and great tour of the old town hall by the landlord.

So much has happened up there, so much still remains. Stories of fact in a glorious and well documented history combined with stories of legend and ghosts. Go see for yourself.

prince of wales pub upstars Kenfig Nature Reserve

Unique Natural Habitat

Kenfig Nature Reserve is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, with various habitats and ecosystems to explore. Within the reserve, you can find several rare and endangered species. Here are some highlights:

Flora

The reserve boasts a rich variety of plant species. From the vibrant carpets of wildflowers in the spring to the ancient dune grasslands, you’ll find an array of flora. Look out for rare orchids, such as the Bee Orchid and Marsh Helleborine, along with the impressive Yellow Centaury.

Fauna

Kenfig Nature Reserve is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. The reserve is known for its bird population, including the elusive Bittern, the elegant Little Egret, and the charming Cetti’s Warbler. The reserve also supports a range of mammals, including the rare Water Vole and the agile Roe Deer.

Rare & Endangered Species

Keep an eye out for some of the reserve’s rare and endangered species. The rare Fen Orchid can be spotted in the wetter areas, while the Adonis Blue butterfly flutters among the dunes. The reserve is also home to the Sand Lizard, a protected species that thrives in the sandy grasslands.

Habitats & Ecosystems

Kenfig Nature Reserve comprises several distinct habitats. The sprawling sand dunes provide a unique ecosystem, supporting various sand-dwelling plants and insects. The freshwater lake, Kenfig Pool, attracts a plethora of bird species, while the reedbeds offer shelter to numerous nesting birds and small mammals.

nature at Kenfig Nature Reserve

Activities and Experiences

The Reserve offers a range of enjoyable activities and experiences for visitors. Some of the recreational activities available at the reserve include hiking, birdwatching, and photography. Visitors can explore the diverse landscapes and observe a variety of bird species in their natural habitat.

natural beauty at Kenfig Nature Reserve

In terms of visitor facilities, Kenfig Nature Reserve provides picnic areas for visitors to relax and enjoy the picturesque surroundings. Additionally, there is a visitor center that offers information about the reserve, including maps, guides, and educational resources. Visitors can access amenities such as restrooms and parking facilities to enhance their overall experience.

Whether you are a nature enthusiast, photographer, or simply seeking a peaceful outdoor retreat, Kenfig Nature Reserve offers a range of activities and facilities to cater to diverse interests.

water marsh at Kenfig Nature Reserve

Nearby Points of Interest

Here are some other places of interest if visiting Kenfig Nature Reserve.

  1. Margam Country Park: Located just a short distance from Kenfig Nature Reserve, Margam Country Park offers beautiful gardens, historic buildings, and a variety of outdoor activities. Visitors can explore the picturesque parkland, visit the 18th-century Orangery, and see the ruins of Margam Castle.

  2. Porthcawl: A popular seaside town, Porthcawl is located nearby and offers stunning beaches, coastal walks, and a vibrant town center. Visitors can enjoy water sports, visit Coney Beach amusement park, or relax in one of the many charming cafes and restaurants.

  3. Ogmore Castle: Situated on the banks of the River Ewenny, Ogmore Castle is a medieval fortress that offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Visitors can explore the ruins, learn about its rich history, and enjoy a walk along the nearby Ogmore Estuary.

  4. Bridgend town centre: Just a short drive away from Kenfig Nature Reserve, Bridgend town centre offers a range of amenities for visitors. You’ll find a variety of restaurants serving both local and international cuisine, cozy cafes, and shops where you can indulge in some retail therapy.

  5. Accommodations: There are several accommodation options available near Kenfig Nature Reserve, including hotels, guesthouses, and holiday cottages. Some popular choices include The Great House Hotel, The Fairway Hotel, and The Heronston Hotel & Spa.

  6. Transportation: Kenfig Nature Reserve is easily accessible by car via the M4 motorway. There are also public transportation options available, including bus services that connect the area to nearby towns and cities. Additionally, there are taxi services available for convenient travel within the area.

sker beach Kenfig Nature Reserve

Conclusion

All in all this is an amazing place I am glad I discovered. It had everything you could want for an outdoor place to visit and to learn. A very historic place that unravels as you explore further.

Unique nature, natural beauty and a great history.

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3 Comments

  1. Great article, reminds me of my youth, I spent many a happy Saturday at the nature reserves Watch Club.

  2. JallieDaddy says:

    I will! Great post, thank you.

  3. Ian Skinner says:

    Really nice piece Paul. Great to share yr company on what turned out to be a beautiful day in the dues of Kenfig.
    I got a nice pic of you in the Prince of Wales pub. You were holding one of the ancient treasures of the area – for the life of
    me I can’t remember what the story was surrounding the sceptre.
    I’ll copy the pic to your twitter feed hope that’s OK
    Regards @Isky11

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