Morfa Dyffryn National Nature Reserve, near Barmouth

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Morfa Dyffryn National Nature Reserve is one of the most important dune systems in Wales because of its bare sand and wildlife habitats.

Dunes like these with bare sand areas are becoming increasingly rare. The wind constantly moves and reshapes the dunes and they provide a home for rare and highly specialised plants and animals.

As well as the huge sand dunes, there are areas of seashore, saltmarsh and grassland and each of these habitats is home to an amazing variety of wildlife.

Together with Morfa Harlech to the south, the two reserves form an almost continuous area of sand dunes along the coastline.

Visiting Morfa Dyffryn

There are two walking routes from the Benar car park through the reserve to the beach.

The wooden boardwalk from the car park goes straight to the beach.

The path from the car park goes through the dune slacks and onto the open beach.

On a clear day enjoy views of the Llŷn Peninsula and a glimpse of Bardsey Island from this stretch of the Cardigan coast.

There is a viewpoint with picnic bench at the beach end of the boardwalk and there are picnic tables in the car park.

There are toilets in the car park (owned by Eryri (Snowdonia) National Park and open seasonally).

Naturist beach

Please note that part of the reserve is a designated naturist beach and is signed accordingly.

Seasonal dog restrictions

Please keep dogs on leads during the bird breeding season March – July; ringed plovers nest right on the beach and other birds nest in the dunes and saltmarsh.

What to see on the National Nature Reserve

Morfa Dyffryn is a National Nature Reserve.

National Nature Reserves are places with some of the very finest examples of wildlife habitats and geological features.

The landscape and wildlife varies depending on which time of year you visit – here’s what to look out for.

Spring

This is a good time to see many of the flowering plants that grow in the dune grasslands and slacks.

Several nationally rare and scarce wildflowers, lichens and mosses make their home here. The wild orchids include the lovely marsh helleborine which grows alongside the northern marsh-orchid as well as the early marsh-orchid.

There is a whole host of other brightly coloured wildflowers to enjoy from early spring onwards. Thrift and common centaury put in an early appearance and they are soon followed by other coastal species including common restharrow, wild pansies, bird's-foot trefoil and many others.

You might also come across sea mouse-ear, thyme-leaved sandwort, portland spurge and dune fescue.

Lapwing nest here and ringed plovers breed on areas of shingle.

Summer

In the warmer months, a wide variety of flowering plants can be seen in the dune grasslands and slacks. These include dune pansy, speedwells, thyme, maiden pink and orchids.

There are also colonies of the rather scarce green-flowered helleborine and round leaved wintergreen - July or August is the best time to see this species.

Summer is also a busy time for many invertebrates including mining bees and beetles.

Look out for the small copper, peacock, and gatekeeper butterflies and day-flying moths such as the cinnabar and forester.

Autumn

The drier dune grasslands are well known as good habitat for fungi and the dunes here offer impressive fungi 'vistas'.

Dwarf earthstar occurs only in mature dune grasslands such as those found at Morfa Dyffryn.

You may also see multi-coloured waxcaps, coral and club fungi, earthtongues and parasols.

Winter

The sand flats and salt marsh in the estuary are important feeding grounds for winter wildfowl.

The beach is used by wading birds but, if you look offshore, you may spot wintering grebes and divers.

Other bird species that put in an appearance at the reserve in winter include choughs and hen harriers.

National Nature Reserves in Wales

There are over 70 National Nature Reserves in Wales.

Find out more about National Nature Reserves.

Eryri (Snowdonia) National Park

Morfa Dyffryn in Eryri (Snowdonia) National Park.

Eryri is the largest National Park in Wales and is home to picturesque towns and villages and the highest mountain in Wales.

It is looked after by the Eryri National Park Authority.

For more information about visiting Eryri go to the Eryri National Park Authority website.

Visiting safely

We want you to return home safely after your visit here.

You are responsible for your own safety as well as the safety of any children and animals with you during your visit.

Please note:

  • Do not dig holes or tunnels in the sand dunes - sand can collapse and su­ffocate you.
  • Beware of partially buried fences in the dunes - they can be dangerous.
  • Please keep dogs on leads during the bird breeding season March – July; ringed plovers nest right on the beach and other birds nest in the dunes and saltmarsh.
  • Do not touch any military debris - it may explode! Report any suspect objects to the Police by calling 999.
  • Livestock graze the dunes and saltmarsh – please keep away from grazing animals.

For advice and tips to help you plan your visit here go to Visiting our places safely.

Accessibility information

The boardwalk is flat and wide and suitable for wheelchairs.

There is an accessible toilet in the car park (open seasonally).

Both facilities are owned by Eryri (Snowdonia) National Park.

Changes to visitor facilities

See the top of this webpage for details of any planned closures or other changes to visitor facilities here.

For your safety, always follow instructions from staff and signs including those for trail diversions or closures.

We may divert or close trails whilst we undertake maintenance work or other operations and we may need to close other visitor facilities temporarily.

In extreme weather, we may close facilities at short notice due to the risk of injury to visitors and staff.

How to get here

Location

Morfa Dyffryn National Nature Reserve is 5 miles north of Barmouth.

It is in the county of Gwynedd.

Directions

Take the A496 from Barmouth to Harlech.

After the village of Tal y Bont, turn left at the brown sign to the Dyffryn Seaside Estate and Benar Beach.

The Benar car park is at the end of this single track lane (Ffordd Benar) after the Dyffryn Seaside Estate.

Ordnance Survey map

Morfa Dyffryn National Nature Reserve is on Ordnance Survey (OS) map OL 18.

The OS grid reference is SH 572 227.

Public transport

The nearest train station is in Dyffryn Ardudwy, one mile away.

There is a bus service from the south (Barmouth) and North (Harlech) along the A496.

For details of public transport visit the Traveline Cymru website.

Parking

The Benar car park is operated by Snowdonia National Park and there is a parking charge.

There is a bicycle rack in the car park. 

Contact details

There are no staff at this location.

Contact our customer team for general enquiries during office hours, Monday to Friday.

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