Kenfig National Nature Reserve


This national nature reserve near Porthcawl is a fascinating area of wetlands, sand dunes and scrub.

Kenfig Nature Reserve by Foomandoonian

Last updated: 05 May 2011

Kenfig lies on the Glamorgan coast, just a short distance from Porthcawl and part of a huge dune system, which once stretched from the River Ogmore to the Gower peninsula.

Birds and orchids

Kenfig is a favourite refuge for wildfowl all year round and is one of the few places in the UK where the bittern can be seen during the winter.

Migrant wading birds include dunlin, ringed plover, little ringed plover, little stint, common sandpiper, greenshank and black-tailed godwit.

In winter expect to find good numbers of water birds including mallard, pochard, tufted duck, goldeneye, teal, wigeon, gadwall, great crested grebe, mute swan, Canada goose and cormorant.

In the spring and summer you will find plenty of warblers here including blackcap, willow warbler, whitethroat, chiffchaff, reed warbler, sedge warbler, Cetti's warbler, lesser whitethroat and grasshopper warbler.

The reserve also contains an abundance of orchids including bee, southern marsh, pyramidal orchid, fragrant and rare fen orchid which is only found at a handful of sites in Britain.

Kenfig Pool

Covering some 70 acres, Kenfig Pool is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and the largest freshwater lake in south Wales. It's particularly valuable as a stopping off point for migrating birds and birdwatchers who flock here to see rare and unusual visitors.

Kenfig pool by martin aaron
Reed beds at Kenfig Pool by Martin Aaron

There are two bird hides located on opposite sides of the pool and wardens are often on site to answer queries.

The lake itself has long been associated with myths and folklore. Some claim it hides a lost city, whilst others tell of how the lake is fed by seven underground springs, is bottomless and contains a whirlpool!

The lake is actually quite shallow and only around 12 feet deep at its deepest but no-one really knows where the water source that feeds it, actually comes from.


A thriving town (Kenfig) once existed here but the dunes engulfed the town and castle in the 16th century and the site was abandoned. All that remains of the castle is the keep which rises out of the dunes at the north east corner of the reserve.

The nearby Prince of Wales pub was once Kenfig Town Hall and inside are some fantastic old photos of the area and shipwrecks and it is well known for its paranormal activities.

If you walk down to the beach you'll also catch glimpses of Sker House - a great house that has existed in various guises since the 12th century but which is now privately owned. The house is well known for it's ghost stories involving the 'Maid of Sker'.

Sker Beach

Sker beach by Steve2309 on Flickr
Sker beach by Steve2309 on Flickr

The coast is approximately one mile away via the dunes and the trails are well marked. At the end, lies Sker Beach - a long pebble lined beach which stretches from Sker Point all the way down to Morfa Steel works.

On the walk down in the summer you'll often see and hear whitethroats, skylarks, meadow pipits and willow warblers as well as whinchats and stonechats.

The beach and mussel beds are a good place to see waders such as dunlin, sanderling, turnstone oystercatcher, grey plover, golden plover and ringed plover.

Sker beach over the years has also been the scene of some infamous shipwrecks including the - Le Vainqueur (1753) and The Samtampa (1947) which resulted in the deaths of all 39 crew along with all 8 lifeboat men from Mumbles.

The reserve is owned by the Kenfig Corporation Property Trustees, and is managed by Bridgend County Borough Council. Guided walks are regularly given by the reserve wardens.

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