WILDLIFE AND NATURE TOURS

WILDLIFE AND NATURE TOURS

Your guide James Cresswell is a trained geologist, but he also knows a lot about wildlife having previously worked as a safari guide in Kenya and Botswana. He also has 8 years of experience telling people about wildlife in the Arctic and Antarctic, and is a wildlife photographer. On these two tours James will take you to his favourite wildlife spots in the Brecon Beacons and in Mid Wales.

TOUR DATES

2015 Dates: June 27th – August 25th

Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays only

Start point: Your accommodation in the Brecon Beacons N.P. area, or Abergavenny train station, or Brecon bus interchange or Hay-on-Wye bus stop

PRICES

£35 per person (Group size 4-7)

Minimum spend £140

WILDLIFE AND NATURE IN THE BRECON BEACONS

Tour route map

Brechfa Pool

Pwll-y-Wrach Nature Reserve

Llangorse Lake

Brechfa Pool – This is Brecknock Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve. Here it is possible to see the rare aquatic fern called pillwort, and several species of wading birds.

Pwll-y-Wrach Nature Reserve – this is 17.5 hectares of beautiful ancient woodland and hosts the Witches Pool waterfall. Dormice live in the reserve but are very hard to see.

Llangorse Lake – Otters and water voles live here but are very hard to see. However there are very many bird species here that vary depending on the time of year.

The River Usk and Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal at Llangynidr – We take a 2 mile walk along the beautiful River Usk and return along the canal. There are otters living here but they are hard to see in the day. We may also see Kingfishers, wild ducks and even a jumping salmon.

Talybont Reservoir – This is a great place for bird watching.

A4059 Penderyn Mountain – Along the side of this road are many Welsh Mountain Ponies.

Craig Cerrig-Gleisiad and Fan Frynach National Nature Reserve – this wild mountain region is home to peregrine falcons, ring ouzels, ravens and butterflies.

Welsh mountain ponies

WILDLIFE IN MID WALES

The Elan Valley

Red kite

Pwll-y-Wrach Nature Reserve

Gilfach Nature Reserve – this is the Radnorshire Wildlife Trust’s flagship Nature Reserve. We spend the morning walking around around the reserve.  The reserve is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The meadows contain a range of ancient grassland species. The Gilfach nature reserve is particularly rich in lower plants, with 413 species of lichen found to date. The species list for birds is currently 73 of which 55 species breed. Insects abound; along the river. The old railway cuttings are a great place to spot butterflies. Larger mammals on the reserve include Otter, Polecat, Stoat, Weasel, Badger, Fox, Hare, and Hedgehog. In 2009 water voles were recorded on the river for the first time, spreading out from a local colony. Bats hibernating in the railway tunnel include Daubentons, Natterers and Brown long-eared among the six species recorded on the reserve.

The Elan Valley – We then tour around the Elan Valley admiring the scenery and Victorian Dams.

Red Kite Feeding Station & Rehabilitation Centre – Gigrin Farm –  At 3pm we watch the feeding of the Red Kites. The number of kites using the feeding station can vary anything from a few score to 600 or more depending on weather and time of year.

Pwll-y-Wrach Nature Reserve – the day ends with a visit to Pwll-y-Wrach Nature Reserve which is the Brecknock Wildlife Trust’s most popular nature  reserve and is only a few miles away from Tara B&B.

INCLUDED IN THESE TOURS

Guiding and interpretation from Mountain Leader and MSc. geo-scientist.

A luxury homemade picnic lunch from Beeton For Time catering.

NOT INCLUDED IN THESE TOURS

*Transportation

*Due to insurance regulations transportation cannot be part of these tours. However I am insured to give you a lift from site to site in exchange for the standard mileage costs, this will be just a few pounds each. My vehicle can take up to 4 passengers alternatively I am happy to travel with you in your vehicle.
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TARA BED AND BREAKFAST

Nestling at the foot of the Black Mountains, Dorcas, David and James Cresswell offer a warm and friendly welcome to their family home. Food is a specialty of the B&B.

Breakfast and optional Dinners are prepared by Dorcas, an experienced Cordon Bleu cook, using local produce and seasonal fruits and vegetables from the garden.
Mountain walking is possible from the front door.
Tara has a relaxing outdoor swimming-pool set in two acres of garden with wonderful views across the Wye Valley and stunning rolling hills. 

Tara B&B in the Black Mountains

Combine your stay at Tara B&B with one of our Day Tours or Guided Hikes.

STAR GAZING IN THE BRECON BEACONS

STAR GAZING IN THE BRECON BEACONS INTERNATIONAL DARK SKIES RESERVE

£10 EACH FOR A 2 HOUR GUIDED TOUR ONLY AVAILABLE IF STAYING AT TARA B&B

Minimum spend £20

SELF GUIDED TOUR IS FREE BUT TELESCOPE HIRE IS £10

The night sky at Tara B&B in the Brecon Beacons International Dark Skies Reserve

The night sky at Tara B&B

Promotional video of Brecon Beacons International Dark Skies Reserve.

Telescope for Star Gazing at Scenery Explained Wales

Teloscope provided.

 This is an evening tour and has to be done in conjunction with a stay at Tara B&B. The tour will take place in the garden of Tara B&B and at the ‘Roundabout’ above Glasbury which has 360 degree views.

This tour is led my James Cresswell who is an accredited ambassador to the Brecon Beacons International Dark Skies Reserve

The Milkyway above the Brecon Beacons

The Milkyway photographed from the Brecon Beacons

Star above Tara B&B in the Brecon Beacons International Dark Skies Reserve

The night sky at Tara B&B

GEO ROAD TRIP OF WALES SOUTHERN HALF

Scenery explained wales road trip southern half route map

COST £350 EACH

based on 2 sharing a room (£100 single supplement)

DATES

MAY 01 – MAY 04, 2016

This trip will run with a minimum of 4 participants and a  maximum of 6
Lavernock Point, Scenery Explained Wales road trip

The Jurassic and Triassic contact at Lavernock Point

Dinosaur trackway, Scenery Explained Wales road trip

The Triassic Dinosaur trackway near Barry

Blaenavon Ironworks, Scenery Explained Wales road trip

The former Ironworks at the Blaenavon World Heritage Site, where Edward Pritchard Martin , James Cresswell’s great great grandfather used to be the general manager.

Llanthony Priory, Scenery Explained Wales road trip

Llanthony Priory in the Black Mountains of the Brecon Beacons National Park, a great place to study the Devonian Old Red Sandstone that it is made from.

Bwa Maen fold, Scenery Explained Wales road trip

Bwa Maen a folded anticline, one of the best examples of a Variscan structure in South Wales

Henrhyd waterfall, Scenery Explained Wales road trip

Henrhyd waterfall, South Wales’ highest flows over the famous Farewell Rock – the base of the South Wales coalfield

Crinoid fossil, Scenery Explained Wales road trip

Fossil crinoid at Stack Pole Quay

Nolton Haven fold, Scenery Explained Wales road trip

Folding in the coal measures at Nolton Haven

St Davids, Scenery Explained Wales road trip

St. David’s Cathedral, made from purple Cambrian sandstone.

Carn Meini, Scenery Explained Wales road trip

A blue stone directly below the Carn Meini quarry where Stonehenge was believed to be quarried from

DETAILED ITINERARY

Arrive in Cardiff the Capital of Wales. The hotel (to be determined) will be in central Cardiff with easy access to Cardiff train and bus stations. Cardiff is only 2 hours by train from London and there are regular buses directly to Heathrow, Gatwick, Bristol and Cardiff airports.

Day 1. Glamorgan Heritage Coast, Dinosaur footprints, Blaenavon World Heritage Site, and the Brecon Beacons National Park.

We depart Cardiff at 9 am and travel to nearby Lavernock Point on the Glamorgan Heritage Coast. Here we can see the Triassic and Jurassic boundary and many fossils. Next we travel to Barry where it is possible to see the best Triassic Dinosaur trackway in Europe. This is followed by a drive up through the former industrial valleys of South Wales to Merthyr Tydfil, on to the Blaenavon World Heritage Site, where we have lunch. Here we also learn how the geology of Wales was responsible for the country being at the forefront of the industrial revolution. We also visit the National Coal Museum where we are able to descend into a coal mine, and we visit the remains of the Iron Works where, GeoWorld Travel Director James Cresswell’s, great great grandfather was the General Manager. We move into the nearby Brecon Beacons National Park  and head up the beautiful Honddu Valley in the Black Mountains. We pass through Ice Age moraines and more recent landslips to reach Llanthony Priory. This beautiful ruin is built from the local Devonian Old Red Sandstone and we have a great opportunity to study rocks as well as enjoy the historical site. At the head of the Honddu Valley is Gospel Pass, the highest road in the National Park, here we can muse if the Ice Age ice sheet ever poured through this gap, see the site of a former lead mine and drop down into Hay-on-Wye and nearby Velindre for our night at Tara B&B. Tara is James Cresswell’s home and we will give you a wonderful family stay.

Day 2. Fforest Fawr Geopark: National Park Visitor Centre, Porth yr Ogof Cave, Bwa Maen Fold, Geopark visitor centre, the Farewell Rock, Henrhyd Waterfall, view of the Black Mountain and Carreg Cennen Castle.

After a wonderful breakfast at Tara B&B with eggs from our own chickens, we drive to the Forest Fawr Geopark. The Brecon Beacons National Park visitor centre is our first pause where there are also great views of the main glaciated peaks of the Brecon Beacons. We then continue through the scenic Geopark to Porth yr Ogof, the largest cave entrance in Wales, to Pontneddfechan where we can see the Bwa Maen faulted anticline, have lunch and visit the Geopark Visitor Centre. After lunch we visit the magnificent Henrhyd waterfall. These fallsthe highest in South Wales flow over the Farewell Rock of the South Wales coalfield, and were main famous bySir Edmond Logan, after whom the highest mountain in Canada is named, when he mapped the area and found fossil trees at the base of the falls. Next we drive west through the Geopark with superb views of the Black Mountain, the wildest part of the park and onto Carreg Cennen Castle. which lies on an outlier of limestone caused by faulting. Finally after the castle we transfer down to Pembrokeshire for our night in the medieval walled town of Tenby.

Day 3. Southern part of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park: Skrinkle Haven, Stackpole Quay, the Green Arch of Wales, Nolton Haven, Druidston Haven and Port y Rhaw

In the morning we head to the impressive cliffs of Skrinkle Haven. Here we can see the Carboniferous / Devonian contact, and the vertical strata of the rocks forming the cliffs. We then head on to Stackpole Quay where folds, faults and fossils can all be found in the Carboniferous Limestone. We then drive on to through Manorbier where Devonian Old Red Sandstone meets the sea, to the Green Arch of Wales (dependent on the military range being open). Following this we head through Pembroke, past its impressive castle to Nolton Haven, where Coal Measures reach the sea. Here very impressive folding and faulting can be seen and, if the tide conditions are right, iron nodules can be seen. A little further up the coast is Druidston Haven, again with fantastic folds and a huge thickness of recent glacial deposits. Finally on our way to Saint David’s we pass the famous fossil site of Porth y Rhaw. Here the rocks are Cambrian in age. This is the site where in 1862 palaeontologist J.W. Salter discovered one of the largest ever trilobites. This trilobite has since been named Paradoxides davidis, and is the exact same species as trilobites found in the rocks of Newfoundland. The night is spent in Saint David’s, Britain’s smallest city and the resting place of Wales’ patron saint, St. David.

Day 4. Northern part of the  Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. Saint David’s Cathedral, Abereiddi Bay, Strumble Head and Carn Meini the source of Stonehenge’s bluestones

Our first point of call is the amazing St David’s Cathedral, a must see visit on any trip to Wales. The Cathedral is made from beautiful purple Cambrian sandstones. We then head to  Abereiddi Bay. The Bay is a former slate quarry with a beautiful blue lagoon, graptolites are very common here. The next step is Strumble Head where Ordovician pillow lavas can be seen at low tide. This is followed by Cresswell’s Cafe in Fishguard. After lunch we head to the Preseli Mountains to visit the Pentre Ifan burial chamber and, if the weather conditions allow, a hike up to Carn Meini, the site where the bluestones of Stonehenge originally came from. We then transfer along the scenic Ceredigion coast to the University town of Aberystwyth.

TRAIN TIMES FROM ABERYSTWYTH

Staying an extra night in Aberystwyth is well worth it so you can visit the town and turbidite deposits on the beach. However it is possible to get the train home at the end of day 4.
Depart Aberystwyth at 17:30
Arrival times:
Shrewsbury: 19:26
Cardiff: 22:06
Birmingham New Street: 20:29
London Euston: 22:13
These times were correct at the time of writing. Please check these times yourself before committing to a booking.
www.thetrainline.com

INCLUDED IN THIS HOLIDAY

4 nights Bed and Breakfast

Expert guiding and interpretation from an MSc. Geo-scientist.

NOT INCLUDED IN THIS HOLIDAY

Dinner. We will normally eat together but pay our own bills.

Lunch. We will buy our own snacky lunches while on the go.

Night 5 in Aberystwyth. On request this can be booked but it is possible to travel home by train  that night. Times at the bottom of the itinerary.

*Transportation – see box below.

 *Due to insurance regulations transportation cannot be part of this holiday. However I am insured to give you a lift from site to site, in exchange for the standard mileage costs. If 4 people join this holiday the estimated cost will be £37 each. If 6 people join then the estimated cost will be £25 each.