A visit to the Welsh Wildlife Centre, Pembrokeshire

by Jan

The Welsh Wildlife Centre is a 264-acre nature reserve on the on the outskirts of Cilgerran, just four miles from Cardigan.  It overlooks the stunning River Teifi, Pembrokeshire.  It’s a fabulous place to discover the great outdoors and provides opportunities for walking, cycling, nature and bird-watching.  We made a visit to the Welsh Wildlife Centre during our recent stay in West Wales and tried several of the trails.

Read on to find out the best walks and things to do at the Welsh Wildlife Centre.

The Welsh Wildlife Centre, Cilgerran

Visitor Centre at Welsh Wildlife Centre, West Wales, UK

Start your visit to the Welsh Wildlife Centre at the Visitor Centre, an impressive glass building overlooking the Teifi Marshes.

From here you can get a guide for the four themed walking trails at the wildlife centre.  There are two short easy-access trails near the car park, including an accessible trail and two more challenging trails.

The Gorge Trail at the Welsh Wildlife Centre

The Gorge Trail, Welsh Wildlife Centre, West Wales, UK

We started our visit with one of the longer walks, the Gorge Trail.  This was an exhilarating walk, in which we discovered some interesting local heritage, unique geology and fascinating views.

The Gorge Walk starts at the viewpoint overlooking the River Teifi, to the East of the Visitor Centre.  At first, the route follows the River Teifi as it winds through the Teifi Gorge.  It leads through ancient woodland to a disused quarry.

Over the years slate quarrying was a major employer for the people of Cilgerran and at its peak provided work for five hundred people.  Today the disused quarries provide a major feature of this trail.  They also provide the perfect habitat for bats, lichen, and birds of prey.  The ancient trees are covered in moss and lichen, and this combined with the sharp walls of the old quarries provide an interesting landscape.

Views of The Gorge Trail, West Wales, UK

The walk continues along the river and at times you can see the river bed through the clear water.  The Teifi Gorge is an area where freshwater meets the saltwater and is one of the best examples of tidal gorge in the UK.

This unique combination of waters provides a great habitat for some rare and special wildlife.  We looked out for otters and kingfishers who live here, but we didn’t have any luck on either front.  We did, however, see some dragonflies near the water’s edge.

If you want to see the water at closer hand, this is the site for the launch point for Heritage Canoes, who offer guided canoe trips along the river here.

Heritage Canoes on the River Teifi, West Wales, UK

Eventually the Gorge Trail takes a steep upward turn and the route becomes more precarious.  You’ll find some steep, slippery steps which led up the side of the cliffs.  It is a tough climb in a remote area, so not suitable for all.  I would advise it for older children with a sense of adventure, but not with small kids!

The final part of this circular walk led us away from the River Teifi and we returned via the Coedmor National Nature Reserve.  Our trail joined with the Woodland Trail, which took us back to the Visitor Centre.  You could turn the other way at this point and head for the village of Cilgerran.

Although the route was dangerous in places, we loved it.  The route was varied, the landscape stunning and the walk was exhilarating.

If you are walking with younger children, you could walk to the quarry then retrace your steps.

The Wetland Trail at the Welsh Wildlife Centre

Buffalo on the Wetland Trail, West Wales, UK

After a stop for lunch at the picnic area, we went for a quick look at the popular Wetland trail.

As its name suggests, the Wetland trail is a circular walk around the wetland area of the marshes.  The footpath is flat and on boardwalks, so far more accessible.  We hadn’t intended to do it all, but it is shorter than it looks on the map and it was a far gentler walk.

If you go clockwise, you’ll soon come to a field with two Asian water buffalo happily grazing in the meadow.  If you want a closer look, there are several bird hides.  We are not experts but spotted a heron and lizard (on the floor!).

This is an easy family-friendly trail, which is ideal for walkers of all abilities.  It’s a perfect trail to enjoy the local nature and wildlife.

Practical information for your visit

Signs of Woodland Trail, West Wales, UK

Admission to the Welsh Wildlife Centre is free.  They have a large car park and parking is £3 for all day (unless you are a member).

The Visitor Centre is an award-winning modern glass building with a café, toilets, and gift shop overlooking the Teifi Marshes.  You’ll also find a picnic area and playground outside.  A visit to the Glasshouse Café is a great way to support the centre, as all profits from here and the gift shop go towards the core conservation work.

Dogs are welcome at the Welsh Wildlife Centre, but must be kept on a lead.

Things to do near the Welsh Wildlife Centre

The Welsh Wildlife Centre is only a few miles from Cilgerran Castle, so it’s a good idea to visit both in one day.

Other great places to visit near the Welsh Wildlife Centre are Cardigan Castle, Poppit Sands, Mwnt Beach or Cenarth Falls.  Click here for a full guide to things to do near Cardigan.

Getting to the Welsh Wildlife Centre, Cilgerran

Cilgerran is on the northern border of Pembrokeshire in West Wales.  It is between St Dogmaels and Cenarth, just three miles south of Cardigan.

You can get there easily on the A487.  The postcode for the Welsh Wildlife Centre is SA43 2TB.

Have you been to the Welsh Wildlife Centre in Cilgerran?  We’d love to hear your comments below.

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