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Newborough National Nature Reserve and Forest, Anglesey

Discover this unique landscape shaped by wind and sea

Walker on Ynys Llanddwyn

What's here

Accessible facilities
Baby changing facilities
Barbeque
Dogs welcome
Horse Riding
Nature
Orienteering route
Parking
Parking (accessible)
Parking (charge)
Picnic area
Running trail
Toilets
Walking trail

Welcome

Newborough Warren is one of the largest and finest dune systems in Britain.

The dunes, coastal marshes, sandy and rocky shores have been shaped over thousands of years by the wind and sea and are home to a dazzling array of plants and animals.

Newborough Warren and Ynys Llanddwyn was declared the first coastal National Nature Reserve in Wales in 1955.

Read more about the National Nature Reserve.

The Corsican pine trees that make up Newborough Forest were planted between 1947 and 1965 to provide timber and to stabilise the shifting sand dunes.

Today it is a popular area for recreation and home to wildlife, especially red squirrels.

The Cefni Estuary and the pools behind the Pen Cob embankment are a sanctuary for birds and other wildlife and there are views across the estuary over an expanse of coastal marsh, open sand and sea.

What you can do here

Women walking in Newborough ForestYou can walk anywhere on the beaches and on the network of footpaths or you can follow one of our waymarked walking trails.

There is also an Animal Puzzle Trail for younger visitors, two family friendly cycle trails, a trim trail and a waymarked running trail.

Walking trails

Waymarked walking trails start from several of our car parks at Newborough.

Download the car park map

Saint, Sand and Sea Trail

Saint Sand and Sea TrailStart: Beach car park

Distance: 4½ miles/7 kilometres

Time: 3 hours

Grade: Moderate

Please note:

Ynys Llanddwyn can be cut off in high tides

you should check tide times before starting this route. Check tide times on the BBC website.

the island can be very exposed and you should be prepared for bad weather conditions

This trail offers a family adventure taking in the forest, dunes and island.

The Saint, Sand and Sea Trail gives an insight into Newborough’s unique geological and cultural features, as well as its history and the legend of Saint Dwynwen.

You can make your way over to the island of Ynys Llanddwyn at low tide.

Audio trail

Learn more about local history and the legend of Saint Dwynwen on our Saint, Sand and Sea MP3 audio trail.

The audio trail is divided into sections which correspond to numbered posts along the Saint, Sand and Sea walking trail.

Nature/Animal Puzzle Trail

Animal Puzzle TrailStart: Beach car park

Distance: 1 mile/1.5 kilometres

Time: 1 hour

Grade: Easy

Pick up a family activities pack from the dispenser and let the children take the lead as you search for the animals and clues along the trail.

The trail starts from the beach car park and continues on sections of stoned forest road and some sandy but uneven tracks before returning to the car park.

Princes and Pines Heritage Trail

Two women walking in Newborough ForestStart: Cwnhingar car park

Distance: 3¼ miles/5.3 kilometres

Time: 2 hours

Grade: Moderate

Enjoy this circular walk through forest, dune and farmland. 

Red Squirrel Trail

Wildlife pondStart: Llyn Parc Mawr car park

Distance: 1½ miles/2.4 kilometres

Time: 1 hour

Grade: Easy

On the trail meet Sara the red squirrel and her friends and find out more about their life in the forest from our information panels.

On the way you’ll see some great views of the wildlife lake and the pine forest.

Estuary View Walk

EstuaryStart: Pen Cob car park

Distance: 1¾ miles/3 kilometres

Time: 1 hour

Grade: Easy

Walk through the forest and alongside the Cefni estuary with its great variety of wildlife.

From our two viewing points see if you can spot the elusive osprey hunting for fish in the summer, or take a look alongside the saltmarsh for its variety of plants such as the common reed, Britain’s tallest native grass which was used for thatching.

Dune Walk

Woman on dunesStart: Braint car park or Llyn Rhos Ddu car park

Distance: 3½ miles/5.6 kilometres

Time: 2-3 hours

Grade: Moderate

Enjoy the views from the Warren across to the mountains and along the coastline and the amazing display of wildflowers.

Cycling trails

Man and child cycling in Newborough ForestOur two waymarked cycle trails are ideal for all the family.

Bikequest Nature Challenge

Start: Beach car park

Distance: 5 miles/8 kilometres

Grade: forest road

Pick up a family activities pack from the dispenser in the car park.

Then follow the waymarkers and search for the information panels to answer the nature challenge questions.

Corsica Bike Trail

Start: Beach car park

Distance: 6¼ miles/10 kilometres

Grade: forest road or similar

This waymarked circular route is mainly on forest roads and has views of the estuary.

It goes through areas of mixed forest from mature pine trees to wet willow woods, and passes by ponds, unusual rocks and wildflowers.

Running trail

In 2011, the Commonwealth Mountain and Ultra Distance Running Championships came to North Wales and the 55 kilometre Ultra Distance trail race took place in Newborough.

Today you can run (or walk!) part of the official race route.

Commonwealth Running Trail

Start: Beach car park

Distance: 6½ miles/10.4 kilometres

Time running: 1 hour

Time walking: 3 hours

Grade: Strenuous

Waymarked from the beach car park, the running trail goes through the peaceful forest, the vast dunes of Newborough Warren and onto the island of Ynys Llanddwyn.

The route includes stoned forest roads, narrow paths on sand with exposed tree roots, loose sand and shingle, uneven grassland and rocky terrain.

Trim Trail

Children on Trim TrailThe Trim Trail is designed to improve your fitness and health while you’re enjoying the beauty of the forest.

Start: Cwnhingar car park

Distance: 1¾ miles/2.7 kilometres

Time: 2 hours

Grade: Easy

There are 11 exercise stations, two of which are accessible with a wheelchair.

Each exercise station has an instruction panel and resting bench nearby.

Orienteering

Orienteering signTest your map-reading skills by navigating between the wooden marker posts (known as "controls" by orienteers) on one of the three permanent orienteering courses in Newborough Forest.

The courses are suitable for beginners who can understand a map and experienced orienteers and it’s up to you how quickly you complete a course.

The courses are graded to British Orienteering Federation standards and were designed by Eryri Orienteers.

All three routes start north east of the main parking area and finish in the clearing south east of the main parking area.

Orange course

Distance: 2.5 kilometres

Grade: medium

The Orange course is of medium difficulty and is suitable for beginners who can understand a map.

There are 9 controls to visit on the course.

Green course

Distance: 5 kilometres

Grade: very hard

The Green course requires technically difficult navigation and is suitable for experienced orienteers.

There are 12 controls to visit on the course.

Blue course

Distance: 6.7 kilometres

Grade: very hard

The Blue course requires technically difficult navigation and is suitable for experienced orienteers.

There are 18 controls to visit on the course.

More information

Horse riding

Horse riding in Newborough ForestExperience Newborough on horseback on one of our two waymarked routes from the Pen Cob car park.

Please note:

  • You need a permit from Natural Resources Wales to horse ride in Newborough Forest.
  • Horse boxes may only be parked in the Pen Cob car park.

How to get a horse riding permit

You can get a weekly (£4) or an annual (£10) horse riding permit.

Proof of third party public liability insurance of a minimum of £3m is required.

Please allow a minimum of three working days to process your application.

Download an application form

If you prefer to pay online please contact our Customer Contact Centre on 0300 065 3000 (Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm) or email newboroughhorsepermits@cyfoethnaturiolcymru.gov.uk

Horse riding trails

Postman’s Trot

Start: Pen Cob car park

Distance: 6¾ miles/11 kilometres

Time: 2-4 hours

Grade: Easy

Enjoy the unique and beautiful surroundings of Newborough Forest on horseback.

Woodland Trot

Start: Pen Cob car park

Distance: 7½ miles/12 kilometres

Time: 2-4 hours

Grade: Easy

Discover views, wildlife and heritage along the route.

National Nature Reserve

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

Newborough Warren’s dunes and beach and the island of Ynys Llanddwyn are a National Nature Reserve, which also includes large areas of saltmarsh and coastal sand flats.

The high dunes and seasonally flooded dune hollows (known as slacks) here are the result of the ever-evolving landscape shaped by thousands of years of storms, tides and nature.

Ynys Llanddwyn island is rich in heritage, folklore, geology and wildlife.

The rocks on this tidal island are amongst the oldest in Wales – look out for the distinctive outcrops of pillow lava on the beach.

Find out more about National Nature Reserves

What to see at the National Nature Reserve

DunesThe sand dunes are a rich mix of damp hollows, grassland and developing dune woodland of willow and birch.

The once mobile dunes have in recent years become ‘fixed’ and covered in plants as a result of air pollution, changing weather patterns and fewer rabbits and grazing animals.

This means a huge decrease in the amount of bare sand, a habitat crucial to the survival of some of our rarest plants and insects, such as the petalwort liverwort and the vernal mining bee.

To address this, we have started re-creating areas of bare sand along the coastline using large machines and much of the dunes are grazed with ponies and cattle to keep the dune vegetation short and rich in wildflowers. Rabbits used to do this until myxomatosis caused their numbers to decline.

Sea thrift on Ynys LlanddwynDuring the summer months the dunes are carpeted in thousands of colourful flowers including rare orchids and are buzzing with insect and birdlife. Listen for skylarks high above the reserve and the chattering of whitethroats, stonechats and linnets in the dunes and open woodland.

During the autumn and early winter migratory wildfowl such as Brent geese, shelduck and wigeon are joined on the saltmarsh and estuary by redshanks and plovers. The pools behind the Cob embankment are visited by birds such as pintail, wigeon, teal and lapwing which come here to escape the harsher winters of the Arctic.

Red squirrels

Red squirrelLlyn Parc Mawr is one of the best places in Newborough to catch sight of one of our rarest mammals, the red squirrel.

By the mid 1990s red squirrels had almost disappeared from the forest but they were re-introduced in 2004 from the Welsh Mountain Zoo.

We manage the forest with them and other wildlife in mind – red squirrels like the mix of pines and other trees species which we grow here to provide them with food and shelter.

Try our waymarked Red Squirrel Walk from the Llyn Parc Mawr car park and visit our lakeside viewpoint to get a feel for this unique area and its wildlife.

The legend of Saint Dwynwen

Chapel ruins on Ynys Llanddwyn islandYnys Llanddwyn island is home to the ruins of an ancient church dedicated to Dwynwen, the patron saint of lovers in Wales.

In Welsh, Llanddwyn means ‘the church of Saint Dwynwen’ and the story of Saint Dwynwen, patron saint of lovers of Wales, is associated with the island.

Dwynwen was the daughter of a 5th century king. She is said to have retreated to Llanddwyn after falling in love and she set up a religious enclosure here.

Over the years this beautiful island became a popular place of pilgrimage and today people celebrate Saint Dwynwen's Day on 25 January all over Wales.

You can learn more about the legend of Dwynwen on our audio trail which you can download to use on the Saint, Sand and Sea walking trail.

Visitor facilities

There is an ice cream van and a catering van in Beach car park at these times:

  • 11am-4pm every weekend from 1 April to 30 September
  • 11am-4pm every day during school summer holidays

Please note that these times are subject to weather conditions.

The toilets in Beach car park are open from 9am to 4pm in winter (GMT) and from 8am to 6pm in summer (BST).

School visits

We will allocate a parking bay near Beach car park for school visits by bus or coach.

Please contact permissionsnorth@naturalresourceswales.gov.uk a couple of weeks before the visit so that we can arrange to escort your bus or coach to the parking bay.

Seasonal dog restrictions

There are lots of places to take your dog on the forest trails but please be aware that there are seasonal dog restrictions on the blue flag beach and island.

Please keep dogs on a lead, especially:

  • from March – July when camouflaged ringed plovers nest on the beach
  • from late autumn to winter around Pen Cob and the estuary when overwintering birds are easily disturbed

Please abide by seasonal dog restrictions on Llanddwyn beach (1 May – 30 September) and Ynys Llanddwyn (1 April – 30 September).

Download more information about dog restrictions

Accessibility information

Facilities include:

  • disabled parking (free for blue badge holders)
  • accessible toilets (in Beach car park)
  • two accessible exercise stations on the Trim Trail

Safety guidance

As well as being a popular place to visit, Newborough is still a working forest.

Some areas may be closed for safety when trees are being felled or timber removed.

We want you to have a safe enjoyable visit to Newborough, so please read the guidance below.

Do not touch any military debris – it may explode!

Report any suspect objects to the police by calling 999

Do not dig holes or tunnels in the sand dunes – sand can collapse and suffocate you

Please do not feed or approach livestock

Wear stout footwear

Always carry windproofs and a warm top in unsettled weather

No camping - there are official campsites nearby

No open fires

Keep to waymarked paths and access tracks to safeguard nature

Do not go out onto the estuary as the incoming tide can quickly cut you off

Be aware of soft sinking mud and sand

Ynys Llanddwyn can be very exposed and can be cut off in high tides. Be prepared for bad weather conditions and check tide times on the BBC website

Sometimes we need to close or divert trails for your safety whilst we undertake maintenance work or forest operations. Please follow any instructions and temporary diversion signs.

Occasionally we may have to close the site in extreme weather, such as high winds or snow and ice due to the risk of injury to visitors or staff.

Opening times

The car parks are open from 9am to 4pm in winter (GMT) and from 8am to 6pm in summer (BST).

The toilets in Beach car park are open at the same time as the car parks.

How to get here

Newborough Forest and National Nature Reserve is half a mile south of the village of Newborough on Anglesey off the A4080.

It is on Ordnance Survey (OS) map 263.

Car parking

There are seven car parks.

  • For Newborough Forest use these car parks: Beach, Airman’s, Cwninghar or Llyn Park Mawr.
  • For Newborough Warren use Braint car park or Llyn Rhos Ddu car park.
  • For Ynys Llanddwyn use Beach car park.
  • For Cefni estuary and Pen Cob use Pen Cob car park or Llyn Parc Mawr car park.

Download the car park map

Beach, Airman’s and Cwnhingar car parks

There is a £5 daily parking charge, paid on arrival to the car park attendant in the kiosk.

You can pay by cash or contactless payment.

Car parking here is free for blue badge holders.

Beach car park fills up quickly in peak season, especially on sunny days; traffic can be very heavy so please be patient.

OS grid references

  • Beach car park SH 405 634
  • Airman’s car park SH 413 645
  • Cwnhinghar car park SH 407 640

Llyn Park Mawr, Braint, Llyn Rhos Ddu and Pen Cob car parks

These car parks are free of charge.

OS grid references

  • Llyn Park Mawr car park SH 413 670
  • Braint car park SH 431 643
  • Llyn Rhos Ddu car park SH 426 647
  • Pen Cob car park SH 411 671

Parking season ticket

You can buy an annual car parking pass for £30 from the car park attendant in the kiosk on arrival.

You can only buy the season ticket from the kiosk in person.

You can pay by cash or contactless payment.

Public transport

The nearest major train stations are in Bangor and Holyhead.

There is an unstaffed request station stop at Bodorgan, which is about four miles from Newborough village.

For details of public transport visit Traveline Cymru's website

Contact details

Tel: 0300 065 3000 (Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm)

Email: enquiries@naturalresourceswales.gov.uk

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