Ty Canol National Nature Reserve, Nr. Fishguard, Pembrokeshire, South Wales

Designations: Part of North Pembrokeshire Woodlands SAC

Below: The Neolithic burial chamber at Pentre Ifan - behind is Ty Canol Woods.
Pentre Ifan Cromiech

Ty Canol is part of the largest block of ancient woodland in West Wales; it is in an area famous for its achaeological sites. Adjacent to Ty Canol is the famous Pentre Ifan Cromiech, a Neolithic Chambered Dolmen that is thought to date from 3,500 BC. It is intriguing to think that the ancient woodland of Ty Canol is of the type that surrounded the Cromiech when it was built.

It is for its lichen that Ty Canol is most prized, with more than 400 species having been recorded there, many of them rare. Lichens are difficult to define and are strange organisms that comprise a fungus and (usually) an alga operating in a partnership that benefits both components.

The site is managed by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) in partnership with the Pembrokshire Coast National Park Authority.

Directions

Grid Ref: SN089368

From Fishguard take the A487 road in the direction of Cardigan until you reach the crossroads where Nevern is signed to the left; however, there you should turn right onto a minor road towards Cilgwyn.

After around 1km (2/3 mile) turn right into a small car park and, if travelling by car, parkr there. Walk down the track and then bear to the right when you come to the buildings and then bear left behind them and continue down the woodland track.

At this point you are in Pentre Ifan Woods, which forms part of the Pembrokeshire National Coast Park.

In order to reach Ty Canol woods bear to the left at the T junction at the lowest point of the track.

Access

There are good tracks throughout the woodlands and the heath, but some of these are steep and can be muddy and slippery in wet weather.

Below: The main entrance to Ty Canol NNR - picture Jeremy Bolwell, Wikipedia
Ty Canol entrance

Facilities

There are no facilites at the reserve apart from an information board just inside the entrance gate (pictured on the left).

Description of Site

The wet woodland on this site consists mainly of Oak, Ash and Downy Birch trees with an understorey of Hazel, Holly, Honeysuckle, and Bilberry.

From early spring there are many wildflowers to be seen, starting in February with Golden Saxifrage (Chrysosplenium oppositifolium) which cascades down wet banks close to the numerous watercourses that run through this part of the woodland. Later the Primroses (Primula vulgaris), Dog Violets (Viola riviniana) and Wood Anemones (Anemone nemerosa) appear followed by Town Hall Clock (Adoxa moschatellina). This tiny plant is hard to spot, but the flowers form a structure like miniature Big Ben clocks.

Water Avens (Geum rivale) is another lovely wildflower to look out for at this time of year.

Below: Lichens and mosses on trees at Ty Canol in winter
Mosses and lichens on trees at Ty Canol

Ty Canol NNR is one of the most important sites in the UK for lichens, and the trees, exposed rocks and low-level crags found in the reserve are covered with them. More than 400 species have been identified there so far, including many that are very rare - for example Usnea florida, which grows on Sessile Oak (Quercus petraea) and Punctelia reddenda which grows on mossy tree trunks and on rocks.

The woodlands in this area are also good places to see birds, and many typical woodland species are seen in Ty Canol including Chiffchaffs (Phylloscopus collybita), Redstarts (Phoenicurus phoenicurus), and Wood Warblers (Phylloscopus sibilatrix). Sparrowhawks (Accipiter nisus) hunt there and Buzzards (Buteo buteo) can be heard crying overhead.

A variety of mammals - Badgers, Foxes, Polecats and the Dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius) - live in Ty Canol woods as do frogs and newts in the wetter areas. The Dormouse is becoming rare, but the woodland with its supply of Hazelnuts for this little mammal to eat, and Honeysuckle, which it uses the bark to build its nest, suits the Doormouse very well.