Kenfig National Nature Reserve, Ton Kenfig, Pyle, South Wales

kenfig national nature reserve
The ocean and orchids - the essence of Kenfig

Kenfig National Nature Reserve lies on the coast of South Wales approximately one mile off the M4 motorway (Junction 37 and follow signs to to North Cornelly, Pyle and Porthcawl and thence the reserve signs) between Bridgend and Port Talbot. The site is managed jointly by Bridgend County Council and the Countryside Council for Wales. Situated on the edge of the reserve is Kenfig Pool, Glamorgan's largest lake. The rest of the reserve consists of a large expanse of sand dunes which lead to the coast and Sker Point, with its lovely views across Swansea Bay to the Gower. On the western side of the reserve is the stark horizon of Port Talbot's industrial area and steel-works - a strange contrast that only serves to highlight the wild beauty of the reserve itself.

Along with the many beautiful wildflowers to be found there Kenfig is also home to a wide variety of wild orchids including Pyramidal Orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis), Fragrant Orchid (Gymnadenia conopsea), Bee Orchid (Ophrys apifera), Early-purple orchid (Orchis mascula), Common Spotted-orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii), Heath Spotted-orchid (Dactylorhiza maculata), Early Marsh-orchid (Dactylorhiza incarnata) including the rare white form pictured below, Broad-leaved Helleborine (Epipactis helleborine), and large colonies of Marsh Helleborines (Epipactis palustris). But, the orchid-jewel in Kenfig's crown is the Fen Orchid (Liparis loeselii). Of the total number of plants of this species to be found in the UK more than 90 percent of them are found at Kenfig National Nature Reserve.

Other wildflowers to be found there are Stinking Iris (Iris foetidissima), Autum Gentian (Gentianella amarella), the increasingly scarce Sea Holly (Eryngium maritimum) and many others. In fact, Kenfig is a treasure-trove of rare and beatuiful flowers.

It is also a great place to see birds; Golden Plovers can often be seen there and the many wildfowl that visit the lake can be viewed and photographed from the bird hides overlooking the seventy acres of Kenfig Pool. In addition there are boardwalks to enable easy access to and viewing of parts of the reserve, and dotted about are interpretation boards to help with identification of the various plants and birds to be seen there.

The new information centre (opened in 2007) has exhibits suitable for both children and adults and is often manned by the wardens and rangers for the reserve, who are happy to answer questions and give directions to enable visitors to get the most out of their time at Kenfig.

Early Marsh-orchid
The rare white form of Early Marsh-orchid (Dactylorhiza incarnata)

Any time from April onwards there are always plenty of wildflowers to be seen at Kenfig, where the peak time for seeing the rare Fen Orchid is early June.

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