Category Archives: Nature holidays in Wales

Wildlife trips in the Llyn Peninsula

A great choice for wildlife trips in the Llyn Peninsula is offered by Shearwater Coastal Cruises. who run coastal wildlife cruises along the Lyyn Peninsula, visiting seal and seabird colonies. Check out their site for full details and prices.

They have written to me with the following interesting information on the sealife of the area:

“On most of our cruises, we can expect to be joined by the resident bottlenose dolphins. The catamaran hull format of “Shearwater” seems to be particularly attractive to the dolphins that obviously enjoy riding the considerable double bow-wave that is produced. Our cruises take us to both of the two main Grey Seal colonies off the Llyn Peninsula. A group of approximately 150 seals inhabit the islands of St. Tudwals, off Abersoch and a much larger colony is to be found around the shores of Bardsey Island. Small satellite groups occasionally detach themselves from these main populations and may be found in places such as the Gwylan Islands and Cilan Headland with a more notable, semi-permanent group residing on the northern coast of the Llyn Peninsula, near Porth Dinllaen/Nefyn golf course.

The rocky coast and offshore islands of the Llyn Peninsula offer important nesting sites for seabirds. Notables such as Manx Shearwaters, Puffins, Razorbills, Guillemots, Black Guillemots, Shags, Cormorants, Kittiwakes, along with other Gull species are commonly seen. Terrestrial predators such as Ravens, Buzzards and Peregrine Falcons, inhabit the sea cliffs and rocky islands as do the Chough which is a common resident along these shores and, happily, is firmly established and doing well.

This northern part of Cardigan Bay is also blessed with some very unusual and spectacular marine wildlife. Few people realise that these waters provide a home for the Leatherback Turtle, the only warm blooded reptile in existence. These huge creatures, often weighing 1 metric ton and approaching 3 meters in length spend most of their adult life here, feeding on the vast shoals of Barrel Jellyfish (Rhysostoma).

The Harbour Porpoise, that seems to be under threat elsewhere can be seen readily, feeding off the headlands of the Peninsula, particularly within the area of Bardsey Sound. Here also one can sometimes see the enigmatic Rissos Dolphin, that otherwise plies up and down the Irish Sea in pursuit of squid and other prey. These creatures have a blunt nose, are light grey in colour and bear numerous large scratch marks, inflicted during play/mating activity.

Easily the most spectacular creatures we encounter on our wildlife cruises are the Bottlenose Dolphins. The groups we see are part of the Cardigan Bay population that exceeds 360 individuals (although we are finding more each season). Whilst running our wildlife cruises, we have for the last few years undertaken dolphin Photo-ID and monitoring tasks on behalf of the “Seawatch Foundation”, a charitable body responsible for monitoring cetaceans around the coast of the UK.

Our work with “Seawatch” has given us a considerable insight into the behavioural characteristics of the dolphins. We can also, now, readily recognise individuals (from marks, scratches and pieces missing from dorsal fins). “Seawatch” also kindly send us feedback from our inputs and it is interesting to examine the travel itineraries of some of the individual dolphins we see. We have for instance, taken a photograph of a dolphin on a particular afternoon and the same animal has been recorded off New Quay, almost 50 miles away the very next day. We often see the same groups day after day, but occasionally we will encounter a huge pod, numbering up to 50 individuals that have simply come up to our area from the south of Cardigan Bay on what seems a fleeting ’round-the-bay’ tour, describing a large arc and heading back south again.

Having been running the “Shearwater Coastal Cruises” for the last 9 years we do get a feeling for the absence, decline or abundance of wildlife species from season to season.Anecdotally, of course, we notice that the auks, Herring Gull and Kittiwake numbers vary the most from one year to the next. We seem to have a gradual increase in the Chough population and Herons, with their heronry in Pwllheli town, seem to have increased markedly.  Over recent years we have noticed the presence of the odd Red Kite, presumably due to the expansion of the mid-Wales population and Peregrine Falcons seem to have increased.

The Grey Seal population seems to have steadily increased over this period and we see more dolphins now that we did before, but this may be due to our becoming more familiar with the location of their favourite feeding areas and developing a more practiced eye.  We have not noticed any decline in the number of porpoises we see, but we have realized for some time that they will always keep well away from any areas where there are dolphins.  The area does attract a lot of recreational boat traffic at peak holiday times and we notice that dolphins can be reluctant to visit or remain in their favourite feeding areas at these times.  The opportunity is not lost on porpoises that soon take their place once the dolphins are absent.

In summary, the wildlife we see daily seems to be thriving and numbers seem to be at least similar to those we saw when we began 9 years ago, with a number of species increasing markedly.  Furthermore, the Llyn Coastal area is apparently being blessed with the increasing presence of the otter – as if we needed any further encouragement to put to sea every day!

Parahawking in Wales

Paragliders will use birds of prey to guide them to the best thermals.  They often report that the birds are not afraid of them and will even approach out of curiosity.  Parahawking takes this one step further.  You’re taken on a tandem paraglider and specially trained birds of prey will accompany you on your flight, rewarded by offerings of food.  This unforgettable experience is available in Wales, organised by the Axis paragliding school

Wildlife boat trips in Wales

Sealife Adventure, associated with Sea Trust (part of the Wales Wildlife Trust), run trips off the Pembrokeshire coast to the islands of Grassholm, and its impressive gannet colony, Skomer, with its puffins and guillemots, and Skokholm, famous for its population of Manx shearwater. There are large numbers of Grey seals in the area, and the chance of watching dolphins as they race the boat.  More information

Watching seal pups in Wales

Grey seals in Wales give birth around September-October. A good place to see the conspicuous white pups is Cardigan Island Coastal Farm Park which has enough attractions to satisfy all members of a nature-loving family. As well as seals, there’s a good chance to spot Bottle-nosed Dolphins, resident in Cardigan Bay. Birdwatchers can observe Peregrine Falcons or Red-billed Choughs. For young visitors (or not so young) there are friendly farm animals, including Dilwyn the Donkey.

Sea kayaking in Pembrokeshire

Pembrokeshire is a sea kayakers paradise, and on these breaks you’ll get the chance to experience at close hand the inspirational National Park coastline as you kayak beneath towering sea cliffs and into sun dappled caves. This is an ideal way to explore the coast with its clean Atlantic ocean waters and waterfalls, sea caves and natural rock arches.  Kayaks are also the best way to watch sea wildlife You might find yourself kayaking amongst Atlantic grey seals that breed around the coast and off-shore islands, or porpoise and dolphins that live in the deeper waters of Cardigan Bay. Large numbers of kittiwakes, razorbills, choughs, shags and cormorants, also the impressive gannets who have their colony on Grassholm island.

More here

Wild campsite in Snowdonia National Park

Campsite in Snowdonia National Park with fabulous views of the Mawddach estuary and Snowdonia mountains. Graig Wen, near Dolgellaux. Graig Wen promises “an inspirational, back to nature experience”.  Perfect for walking, bird-watching, mountain-biking or visiting the area.

4 star Bed and Breakfast accommodation, three holiday cottages and yurts are also available

Visit this site

Country campsite in mid-Wales


Traditional small farm in the hills of Mid-Wales. The site offers veggie Bed and Breakfast, Camping and a Self-Contained Caravan. Goats, chickens and sheep wander about and there is a large vegetable garden grown to organic principles. Beautiful views of the mountains of the Snowdonia National Park, and on the Cambrian Way, Dyfi Valley Way and the Glyndwr’s Way National Trail. The camping site is in a wild area near the lake.

“The area has amazing wildlife including orchids,  dragon and damsel flies, buzzards, kites, frogs, newts and toads  and sometime nightjars and glow worms. Even an otter has been seen!  The site has its own spring water supply and campfires are permitted.”

Visit site

Camping in Cardigan Bay

Nant y Croi Farm caravan and camping site has wonderful views over Cardigan Bay. Nearby there are beaches at Mwnt Poppit Sands, Aberporth, Llangranog, Tresaith & New Quay. Seals and Dolphins are regular visitors to the rocks and seas around the edge of the farm. There is direct access to Mwnt beach via a foot path from the farm yard.  The farm extends over lush green land gently sloping to the coast and has it’s own private cove ideal for swimming and enjoying sea-life. Visit this site

Electric canal barge holidays

The Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal threads through some of the most beautiful scenery in South Wales. With it’s industrial life is over, it offers the opportunity to see the Welsh countryside from your very own self-drive diseal or electric narrow boat. The canal covers 33 navigable miles from Brecon to Pontypool. Average cruising speed is 2-3 miles per hour so you will need at least a week to enjoy the canal.
More from Castle Narrowboats.

Guardian review “The owners of Castle Narrowboats, Nick and Sharon Mills, patiently briefed us on the workings of what is one of only two electric narrowboats for hire in Britain – the other one is theirs too – and answered our landlubber questions with admirable patience.”