Caio Forest, near Llandovery
Peaceful upland woodland with several waymarked...
Dramatic disused quarries and the only seasonal lake in Britain
Carmel National Nature Reserve is made up of a rich tapestry of habitats ranging from ancient woodland and flower-rich grassland to disused quarries.
The first features you are likely to notice are the old quarries: limestone has been extracted from this valley since the Middle Ages, while commercial lime manufacture, using kilns, began here in the 19th century.
People have been here much longer than that though - ancient skeletons have been found in caves at the Pant-y-llyn quarry and a Bronze Age flat axe was discovered here in 1962.
The reserve is home to the only turlough (a seasonal lake) in Britain. No streams flow in or out of the turlough and it is fed solely by groundwater sitting in holes in the underlying limestone. Known as Pant y Llyn (‘hollow of the lake’ in Welsh), it fills up in winter and empties in most summers.
There is a picnic area next to the car park.
Enjoy carpets of bluebells, dog’s mercury, ramsons and wood anemone in the woods
Go orchid hunting next to the path into the quarry
Keep your eyes peeled for the hundreds of toads making their way to the lake to spawn
Look out for rare plants like lily-of-the-valley, herb paris and toothwort in the woods
Enjoy limestone grassland flowers such as bird’s foot trefoil, marjoram, aquilegia and harebell
Try to spot woodland birds like treecreeper, great spotted woodpeckers and redstarts
Forage for fungi in the woods and brightly coloured wax caps in the grasslands
Take in the autumn colour and kick some leaves
Carmel is a National Nature Reserve.
National Nature Reserves are places with some of the very finest examples of wildlife habitats and geological features.
There are over 70 National Nature Reserves in Wales.
The walking trail is waymarked from the car park.
1¼ miles, 2 kilometres, difficult
This circular walk climbs to the top of the quarry where you can take in the views. It then passes through the woodland, which is full of bluebells in spring, to the turlough (a unique disappearing lake).
Carmel National Nature Reserve is five miles south west of Llandeilo, off the A476.
The OS grid reference is SN 605 164.
Take the A476 from Llandeilo to Llanelli. Go through Carmel village and, after 1/3 mile, at a staggered crossroads turn left, signed to Llandybie. Follow this road for one mile and the reserve car park is on the left just before a junction.
If you take the A476 from Llanelli to Llandeilo, ignore the large brown and white nature reserve sign just before Carmel village (which takes you to the western section of the reserve looked after by the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales) and take the next right after this sign, signed to Llandybie. Follow this road for one mile and the reserve car park is on the left just before a junction.
For details of public transport visit www.traveline-cymru.info
Tel: 0300 065 3000
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