Pembrokeshire has a wonderful variety of rivers, from the mighty Western Cleddau and Eastern Cleddau, to the tiniest streams, bubbling across the slopes of the Preseli Hills.
Estuaries include the Milford Haven Waterway (which becomes the Daugleddau Estuary upstream of the Cleddau Bridge), the ria at Solva and the Teifi Estuary on the County boundary near Cardigan. The Welsh name for Cardigan, Aberteifi, means ‘the mouth of the Teifi’.
The relatively sheltered mudflats and tidal creeks within the Daugleddau Estuary are havens for wildlife, particularly waders. The narrow winding channels are only navigable by small craft such as dinghies and canoes. The foreshore is a mix of rocks and mud. This is a harsh habitat in which to survive, suffering from inundation and drying out each day. Species of seaweed, sponges, sea squirts and shellfish live in the mud, and are a rich source of food for wading birds and wildfowl.
The woodlands overhanging the creeks have been here for at least four hundred years. Originally, woodland clothed the slopes of the Daugleddau Estuary all along the Haven. What remains today is a mixture of older woodland, and new growth that has sprung up in the last century, since the industries that were once found along the Daugleddau, such as coal mining, have disappeared.
Minwear on the Daugleddau Estuary
The woodlands of the Daugleddau Estuary are dominated by oak, ash and hazel. These species need to survive strong winds, and be tolerant to salt. They grow on steep and rocky slopes. In some places, such as Lawrenny, wild service trees also grow. This species is not fond of the cool Pembrokeshire climate, and unlike those in south-east England, they do not produce fruit. Instead they send out suckers from the base of the trunk, making them an ideal species for life on rocky, unstable cliffs.
Beneath the canopy grow holly and rowan trees, and carpets of woodrush. The underlying rocks make the soil acidic, and species such as heather and bilberry thrive. The oldest trees appear to be ‘bearded’ by mosses and lichens, and some of the oldest lichens in Britain are believed to be growing in these woodlands.
The Daugleddau Estuary woodlands provide a habitat for many animals, birds and insects. In the early morning or evening it is possible to see otters and badgers. In the twilight look out for bats as they forage for insects under the canopy. Pembrokeshire is home to a number of rare bat species, including the horseshoe bat.
Bird species include the nuthatch, pied flycatcher and redstart. These birds nest in holes in the trees, and hunt for insects on leaves and in the decaying wood.
This area of saltmarsh and sandbanks fringes the tidal estuary of the River Teifi. The saltmarsh is an area which lies between land and sea – it is covered by the tide for parts of each day as the tide advances and retreats twice daily.
St Dogmaels on the estuary of the River Teifi
The saltmarsh shows stages of colonisation by salt-tolerant grasses and shrubs. Only these salt-tolerant species can live here in this unusual environment. Limited grazing by livestock is possible between the tides.
The estuary is a fine area for recreational sailing and birdwatching with Easy Access footpaths forming part of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path.
Click the links below to learn more about two of Pembrokeshire's main rivers and estuaries:
More on the National Park's Geography
Visitors are of great benefit to Pembrokeshire and tourism is an important part of the local economy. But while there are many benefits, tourism can a...
About the National Park
70th anniversary photo competition
With the National Park celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2022, the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority asked your help to develop an online ...
A Park for the People
In the evolution of this outstanding landscape, fashioned over millions of years, a period of 70 years barely registers on the timescale…
Find out how the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority tackles the issues of sustainability, climate change and sea level rise.
Facts and Figures
Find out some fascinating facts that highlight what makes the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park so special.
Access and Rights of Way
We do our best to ensure that you have access to all the best bits, so around 1,000 km of the network of public rights of way in the National Park is ...
The historic environment is part of what makes the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park such a special place.
The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park has many habitats which support a wide variety of wildlife; both common and rare.
When you think about the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park you may conjure up images of beautiful beaches, panoramic views from the Coast Path and qua...