Grid References: O.S. Explorer map 213 Aberystwyth & Cwm Rheidol. Main entrances: SN554739 & SN552734, Site centre: SN553736
Status: Notified SSSI
Tenure: The freehold of the northern half of the reserve was purchased in 1966 with grant aid from WWF. The cliffs and scree below the grazing line to the south of this have been leased since 1977, with an addition in 1981.
Size: 23 ha (56.8 acres)
Location and Access Notes
Public transport: Buses X50 and 554 run from Aberystwyth or Aberaeron. The 540 and T1/740 also travel along the coast road.
Access from the A487. Parking in a layby is 4.25 km from Llanrystud (room for up to 8 cars). Path from 50 m south of layby at SN559731, for 1 km to southern stile entry, through fields to south of farm buildings. Alternatively take the coast path, with many access points from the A487. The site can be well observed from the coast path. Beware steep cliffs. Not accessible to wheelchairs.
Description: Maritime cliff and slope, upland Oak woodland and lowland heathland.
Nearly 2 km of cliffs are contained within the reserve, with unique cliff scrub of Small-leaved Lime (Tilia cordata) and coves. The principal biological interest of this site is the steeply west-facing Sessile Oak woodlands, which include an interesting assemblage of other native species such as Blackthorn, Hawthorn, Hazel, Small-leaved Lime (particularly in the south and in the Great Gulley), Spindle at the north end, Rowan, and Wych Elm.
The spring flora includes Dog’s Mercury (2-4), Enchanter’s Nightshade (6-9), Herb Bennet (5-10), Wood Anemone (3-5), and Wood Sorrel (3-6). Scree areas carry a flora of spring and early summer annuals with a few short-lived perennials, while the deep gulleys have a few ferns. The cliffs have maritime and heath flora, which brings the total plant list to around 130 species. There is a rich lichen flora but few bryophytes though Schistostega pennata has been found in rabbit holes at SN547729.
Birds include most common woodland species in addition to which Chough, Buzzard, Kestrel, and Raven nest fairly regularly, and Peregrine are often seen. Over 1000 pairs of Cormorant nested in 1981. In 2005 there were 46 breeding pairs of Herring Gull, 1 of Great Black-backed Gull, 6 of Fulmar and 1 of Shag. Common small passerines can also be seen as well as Whitethroat, Wheatear, Stonechat and Linnet.
Rock platforms in the southern section provide at low water a convenient hauling-out site for moulting Grey Seal with over 30 seen during March and April. Young Seals are occasionally born on the reserve.