Fed up of staying in conventional accommodation, I was on the hunt for somewhere unique to stay to break up a trip up the west coast of Wales and really hoped for a chance to see some wildlife en-route. Oak Tree Cottage, which is located in the beautiful Welsh Wildlife Centre and Teifi Marshes Nature Reserve was recommended. It was looking good from the outset! The Teifi was full and the woods spilt bluebells down the sides of the road.
The cottage is easy to find, it's under an enchanting, massive oak tree adjacent to the Cherry Tree adventure play ground. Huddled into a bank of twisted oaks, ferns, and Herb Robert, its door opens into a whitewashed cosy refuge.
Tea in hand, sitting on the stone wall outside the cottage, I unwound listening to the songs of the woodland birds. A stroll and a chance to explore my new surroundings beckoned, staying in the cottage meant I could wander around the nature reserve at my leisure without a need to dash on elsewhere.
I entered the first hide. Four silent figures crouched studying the water. There only yards away were three otters. Swimming, diving and playing together they explored their pool ignoring our rapt attention and that of a Heron perched on an old tree above them. After what seemed a forever of silent watching we breathed as the otters wandered on their way. As I left the hide a Bullfinch struck up its song and a Reed Bunting paused nearby to check things out.
I didn't see the Kingfisher that the others had seen on the river earlier. Maybe next time!
The cooker produced a steak and ale pie. I washed it down with a cold glass of beer sitting in the late evening sun.
Refreshed I returned to the hide. It was empty now and the reserve was still but not silent. Geese and the Mallards were now in charge. The Heron was still there, stalking its supper.
As darkness came I wandered down to the river, a full moon cast its path across the water. The tide had come in and the river flowed strongly past. Bats darted across the surface, a moth danced amongst the trees and an occasional fish splashed back into the water.
At six I fell out of bed and straight into the reserve again. The gentle cascade of bird song filled the air. The Heron was now seeking out its breakfast.
The Teifi Marshes and Welsh Wildlife Centre truly are a wonderful place to visit and be at one with nature. Staying in the cosy cottage under that magnificent oak tree with the reserve to explore around the clock is magical. If you get the chance give it a try, it’s an experience that will stay with you forever.
Rob Pickford, Chairperson, Wildlife Trust of South & West
For availability and reservations for Oak Tree Cottage – The Cwtch please email: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone: 01239 621600/621212. Follow us on Twitter @oaktreecwtch and Facebook: Oak Tree Cottage-The Cwtch.