Merthyr Mawr National Nature Reserve



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The Merthyr Mawr NNR, near Bridgend, was once joined to the Kenfig Pool and Dunes NNR (see above), in a continuous belt of sand and dune systems which ran along the coast from the Ogmore estuary to the Gower Peninsula. The sand dunes at Merthyr Mawr are unusual because they have formed against the Carboniferous limestone plateau, making the dunes the second highest in Europe. The reserve contains examples of the successional stages of dune formation, from bare sand, embryonic dunes to stabilised dunes and slacks further inland. The dune slacks are home to orchids such as the marsh helleborine, which flowers at the end of June and into July. Earlier in the year the southern marsh orchid and the early marsh orchids come into flower, and the rare creeping willow is much in evidence. The diversity of plant life supports a wide range of invertebrates, and there are a number of rare species at Merthyr Mawr, such as the dune tiger beetle, cuckoo bee, solitary wasp and mining bee.

Merthyr Mawr National Nature Reserve
Merthyr Mawr


About the area

Discover Bridgend

The country of Bridgend is home to the town of the same name. Some 22 miles west of Cardiff, one of the commuter town’s most notable feature is Merthyr Mawr, a huge stretch of grassy sand dunes and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), leading down to the sea. Nature lovers will enjoy Merthyr Mawr and its abundance of plants and insect life. The sand dunes are the second highest in Europe, while the areas of dune woodland and scrub provide additional habitats, resulting in increased wildlife diversity. The site is also well known as a place where some nationally rare and unusual fungi species grow.

Further west lies Porthcawl and the first real beach you hit of your way from Cardiff. While it doesn’t match up to the breathtaking beaches further west, it’s sandy and has decent waves for surfing and kite surfing. For those not up for some board action, the town has plenty else for visitors, including a promenade and funfair, and each September it hosts an Elvis Festival, where the whole town dons blue suede shoes and greased-up quiffs in honour of the star.

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