Updated: Oct 4, 2021
Its always good to have a break from everyday life and work, Have a rest, chill out and get some energy back. I was certainly ready for that break come the 3rd July!
For our summer holiday this year My wife and I decided on Wales and found a lovely cottage In Pembrokeshire in the small village of Bwlchygroes about 30 mins from the town of Cardigan and the beautiful Pembrokeshire coastline (incorporating Cardigan Bay) The aim of the holiday was to chill out, go for walks, visit different places, see some wildlife, particularly Dolphins, more on that later, but to see wildlife we didnt really have to travel far, the cottage garden produced quite alot on its own.
On the first night, it was just getting dark, around 10ish when i looked out the window and saw 2 Bats flying around the garden, unfortunately I had forgotten to bring the Bat detector to ID them 100%. They were quite big and after speaking to an ecologist friend, I suspect they were Greater Horseshoe Bats, no photos but a slow motion video is attached.
When looking out the window I noticed a Hedgehog come out from underneath the hedge and wander through part of the garden, fantastic we thought, we both love Hedgehogs. What a good start to the holiday. I love Moths and was hoping to see some by using light traps during the holiday. This area of Pembrokeshire is under recorded where moths are concerned so what did I see? More Moffy news later in the blog.
The village we were staying in was quiet and there were farms around with livestock. Lots of very narrow country roads and several miles to the next village. All this provided us with plenty of places to go for a walk just from the cottage itself including 1 walk that was just over 3 miles, a nice walk but beware the last mile coming back up into the village starts with 2 hairpin bends up hill then the road continued to go up hill. Not reccomended if you have dodgy knees!
It was nice, just walking in the welsh countryside, fresh air and the quiet. We were able to take our time and look at the verges as we went, we discovered quite a bit that would just otherwise pass you by if you were in a car.
The verges in the area were covered in Foxgloves, We had never seen so many,
All parts of the plant are poisonous if eaten and contact with the foliage may irritate the skin and eyes. Foxgloves contain a chemical called digitalin which is used to treat heart conditons. Check out this link from PlantLife to find out more;
There was quite a bit of Fireweed or Rosebay Willowherb (as its known in the UK) around too along field/verge edges. Fireweed is a tall flowering plant in the Willowherb family with an abundance of pink flowers. It looks spectacular when you see it in large numbers.
But did you know, you could make tea from it?
Fireweed is also used for pain and swelling (inflammation), fevers, tumors, wounds, and enlarged prostate.
Check out these links to find out more:
There were lots of wild Strawberries along the verges, much smaller than what we would normally expect a strawberry to look like and not as sweet and juicy as the cultivated fruits we normally see.
Check out this link from the Wildlife Trusts to find out more about wild strawberries.
This photo shows Herb Robert, of the geranium family. It was certainly in plentyful supply around Bwlchgroes.
Herb-robert was traditionaly used as an antiseptic as well as to treat stomach upset and nose bleeds, its leaves are edible and sometimes used to make tea.
Check out this link from the woodland trust to find out more:
Bramble is a common plant and yet another food source if your out and about foraging in the countryside.
Check out this link from PlantLife to find out more:
This pretty yellow flower was spotted on one of our walks. It is Yellow/Common Toadflax. It contains a chemical that is poisonous to cattle. Check out this link from the wildlife trusts to find out more:
Our cottage in Bwlchygroes was located aboout 30 mins from the coast so we were never too far away from a beach. We had quite a range to choose from including 1 with a waterfall!
I have seen lots of waterfalls in my life in lots of different places but I have never seen one on a beach. The falls in question were Gwalia Falls on Tresaith beach, follow this link to find out more:
It was a nice day when we visited, climbing over rocks, walking on the beach and standing at the foot of a waterfall. Check out my photos:
This beach seemed to be a good place to spot Compass Jellyfish.
On our travels we found a nice quiet beach called Patch Beach not far from the town of Cardigan, you turn off on the road to Gwbert and actually park on the beach. A nice spot to just sit and watch the world go by, a bit of bird spotting could be done, watching wading birds like the Curlew and flocks of geese in the distance.
Along the coast road about 5 mins from Patch Beach we came across Cardigan Island Coastal Farm Park. A small farm with animals such as Llamas, Pigs, Goats & Sheep, It was an ideal place for families to bring the kids where they could feed the animals with food bought from the visitor centre which also offered a cafe and shop. There was also a walk along the cliff tops giving excellent views of this stunning coastline, always with the possibility of spotting a dolphin or a seal.
Check out this link to find out more info about the park:
If you do the full walk, you might just be rewarded with a view of some seals swimming close inshore.
My favourite beach of the holiday was definately Mwnt, a small peaceful beach complete with it's own 13th century church (pictured below) Check these links for more details: https://www.explorechurches.org/church/church-holy-cross-mwnt
If you walk from the car park past the church there is a rather large hill to walk up offering magnificent views of the coastline and your always in with a chance of spotting a dolphin in cardigan bay and we did, just 1 as it swam past. Happy faces all round! There are usually Choughs around the hillside too. A chough is a large Black crow with a curved red beak. (see photo below of 2)
When you come down from the hill and head towards the beach you will find a small shop offering hot/cold drinks and snacks, postcards etc. The path along the coast from here is great for more wildlife with lots of wildflowers offering pollinators a most valuable food source. We saw Common Blue Butterfly, Meadow Brown, lots of Six Spot Burnet Moths which I had never seen before.
We had seen one Waterfall on the beach but we wanted to see another and decided to visit the beautiful falls at Cenarth. We had a beautiful walk along the side of the falls and the river and through the woodland and back into town. Thoroughly reccommend this place.
Click the link below to find out more:
We had a rather eventful journey when we decided to visit Strumble Head Lighthouse just north of Fishguard. Fishguard itself was easy to get to but we used the sat nav (googlemaps) to get to Strumble Head. When we were getting closer we ended driving down lots of narrow single track roads, passed one sign to Strumble Head but thought thats ok, the sat nav is taking us a different route, passed another sign, nahhh thats ok sat nav knows where we are going!!! Well, on this occasion google maps didn't have a clue, we ended up at a dead end outside a private property with no access to the Strumble Head. Moral of the story: Follow signs not sat navs. Doh!
Anyway, we arrived eventually, parked in the 2nd car park down with plenty of spaces. It was a stunning piece of the coastline with a Lighthouse on a rocky prominatory sticking out into cardigan bay. There is no access to the lighthouse itself. We had a walk, managing to see a seal basking on the rocks, a Dolphin swimming past and some Harbour Porpoises. Check out the photos below.
Check out these links for more info on Strumble Head and the lighthouse:
When we left Strumble head we headed back towards Fishguard and stopped off at Goodwick Sands beach adjacent to the ferry terminal where you could walk out into the harbour area on a footpath as seen in the photos below.
One of the things we both wanted to do on this holiday was a boat trip in Cardigan Bay to look for Dolphins. We found a company in New Quay and booked a 1.5 hr trip which cost £20 each, which I thought was good value for money considering the price of other companies doing similar trips. We were able to see the seabird colonies along the cliffs, a couple of seals and of course dolphins. We saw 3 as they were bow riding another boat, a great sight but sadly no Dolphin photos but a few of the coastline and some weird looking ginger bloke!
Check out this link for the company we used for the boat trip, highly recommended:
We visited the town of Newcastle Emlyn a few times, on the 2nd visit we decided to stop at the castle and have a look around. We had a lovely walk by the river and the castle grounds itself. The castle was built in the mid 13th century and there is not much of it left standing. But it provides you with a little bir of welsh history.
Check out the link after my photos for more info:
I mentioned at the beginning that I was running Light traps to find out what Moths were about this part of Pembrokeshire. It is an under recorded area so the records were very valuable. I recorded around 100 species of Moths over 2 weeks using 2 traps, 1 was set in the garden and the other under the car port which did very well even though it was partially covered.
The first 2 photos below show the light trap set up then Elephant Hawk, Peach Blossom, Garden Tiger and Lilac Beauty. There were several moths in the week that I had never seen before including the Lilac Beauty. The garden and surrounding area proved to be really diverse in supporting such a wide range of speices.
If you would like to find out more about Moths and Moth trapping check out these links:
And for supplies and advice on how to make your own trap:
Also check out the facebook page: MothsUKflyingtonight https://www.facebook.com/groups/1657981907786185
It was a great holiday with some great weather, beautiful scenery, stunning coastline and amazing wildlife. I would definately recommend this area of Pembrokeshire. This is the company we booked with:
Hope you have enjoyed this Pembrokeshire Blog. Please keep checking my website for new blogs coming soon.