Blog: The Welsh Wildlife Centre
At Croft Farm & Celtic Cottages, not only are we at the border between the two fascinating and diverse counties of Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire, but we have a plethora of wildlife, history and wonder right on our doorstep. While many come to West Wales for its spectacular coastline, many people overlook some of the fascinating natural attractions further inland.
A mere few miles upstream from where the river Teifi meets the sea sits The Welsh Wildlife Centre, settled quietly into the stunning Teifi Marshes. This is an expansive area where tidal mudbanks develop into dynamic reedbeds, where pasture and woodland give way to acres of freshwater marsh. This area is not only stunning, but also one of the best wetland sites in Wales, and as a result, is home to an incredible array of wildlife, including one of the few herds of resident water buffalo in the UK.
The Welsh Wildlife Centre is run by the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales who look after the enormous 264-acre site, home of the Teifi Marshes Nature Reserve. The site is dotted with hides and picnic benches set up by the Welsh Wildlife Centre to allow visitors to immerse themselves in nature and to meet many of the residents of this natural paradise.
Yes, you heard us right, the water buffalo are the main attraction of this incredible, quiet spot, but when you arrive you realise that you’re utterly surrounded in what feels like a secluded spot. The Welsh Wildlife Centre itself has boards around the site so that you can try to spot some of the residents yourself, but in all there are kingfishers, marsh harriers, mallards, water voles, sika deer and a whopping 17 different species of dragonfly! Herons and swans are frequent visitors to the mudbanks leading the mile out of Cardigan town towards the Welsh Wildlife Centre, and if you stop under the bridge for long enough, you’re bound to see a member of the cheeky, curious otter family that call this water haven home. You might even see a red kite overhead, too.
The Welsh Wildlife Centre itself is situated a mile into the marshes, with its stunning Glasshouse Café offering panoramic views across the Teifi Estuary, taking in the vastness of this beautiful spot. Housed within the stunning wooden building are shops, wildlife displays, disabled-friendly bathrooms and function rooms. And keep an eye out for a very large (sculpture of a) badger!
Of course, some of the facilities at the Welsh Wildlife Centre might be closed over the next few months, but that’s not absolutely a bad thing – read this article in the local newspaper about how fewer visitors has meant a bumper year for owl chicks in 2020!
If you’re looking to take in as much as you can of this beautiful site, we recommend that you start in Cardigan. Turning onto what is now an industrial estate, follow the old GWR Whitland and Cardigan Railway route, starting from Station Road in Cardigan. This disused railway line was once the Cardi Bach train’s route between Cardigan and the old slate village of Cilgerran, leading all the way to Whitland. You can still see the old goods shed behind the colourfully spray-painted riverside walk! Traversing the marshes from under the road bridge, it’s now a disabled-friendly and pushchair-friendly accessible track that leads the mile from the town through the reeds, passed hides and bridges and through extensive tunnels in the trees before you access the centre itself.
If you’re sick of sand everywhere, this is a stunning alternative walking spot with just as much to see and do as there is along our coastline, and perhaps you’ll bump into a buffalo?!