Caeau Tan y Bwlch Nature Reserve
Know before you go
Parking informationOff-road carpark open year-round
Grazing animalsCattle, autumn. Sheep, winter. Ponies, spring and summer. Be aware that livestock graze some parts of the reserve most of the year round, so please close gates behind you and keep dogs on leads at all times.
There are no paths - walk down through the meadows. The wet grassland and woodland further down the hill is very boggy year-round.
Take care visiting the lower, wetter fields too ... wellies are a must!
Turn off the A499 from Caernarfon to Pwllheli into the village of Clynnog Fawr. Take the 2nd (sharp) L and then turn immediately R by the school, signposted to Capel Uchaf. Proceed about ¾ mile uphill and take the first R uphill (concealed and unsigned). Continue up this winding, single-track road for about 1 mile. After a 90˚ turn to the L, the reserve’s car park is a further 150 metres on your L through a field gate (SH 766 597).
When to visit
Opening timesOpen at all times
Best time to visitLate Spring and Summer
About the reserve
Wildflowers and warblers
With their clawdd (earth and stone) walls, these fields are a visible reminder of how farming practices have drastically changed over the last century. It is estimated that the UK has lost 97% of its traditionally managed hay meadows since the 1930s – making this reserve all the more important. The reserve is at its most colourful in late June and early July, when the delicate white flowers of the greater butterfly-orchid carpet the fields. Their pale colour is highlighted amongst the brighter tones of the eyebright, bird’s-foot trefoil and black knapweed that fill the site. The lower, wetter fields are a mosaic of wet grassland and willow carr, which provides excellent nesting habitat for migrant birds such as willow and grasshopper warblers.
Traditional hay meadow
In partnership with landowners Plantlife, traditional hay meadow management methods have been used on the upper, drier meadows for at least 30 years. These include light cattle grazing in autumn and winter, taking a hay crop in late summer, and avoiding adding any artificial fertilisers or chemicals. In recent years, wildflower seed has been donated from this reserve to create new wildflower meadows elsewhere in Gwynedd. The lower, wetter mire is grazed by ponies in the spring and summer. Wildlife Trust staff and volunteers control bracken encroachment into the hay meadows to prevent excessive shading of native wildflowers, whilst also controlling willow in the mire to maintain open and wet conditions.