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Visiting the Dolaucothi Estate

Bluebells, Dolaucothi, Carmarthenshire
Bluebells, Dolaucothi, Carmarthenshire | © National Trust Images / Annapurna Mellor

The estate at Dolaucothi covers over 2,500 acres, comprising upland farms, woodland and the site of the original Dolaucothi house and surrounding parkland. Enjoy 25km of footpaths from gentle riverside walks to scenic upland trails.

Go exploring at Dolaucothi

Over the years nature has taken over this industrial landscape leading you to believe that this undulating woodland landscape could be a natural feature, but as we know, there’s so much more hiding beneath these wooded hillsides. link

Natural features of the estate are designated in their own right as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The industrial and natural worlds collide to create the perfect conditions for lichens, mosses and rare ferns.

Spring on the Dolaucothi Estate

Spring is a beautiful time on Dolaucothi Estate. Trees are full of birdsong and the wildflowers are alive with the sound of bees and other insects. Bluebells carpet the woodlands at Dolaucothi and many areas are easily viewed from the carpark.

A Roman mine

The tour of the Roman mine takes you through the Allt Hebog SSSI which is significant for its upland oak woodland, rare Hay Scented Buckler Fern and bat presence. The humidity and moisture content in the area creates conditions equivalent to the rainforest, even on the rainiest of days, you can see this habitat at its best.

A close-up of a fly perched on the dark lilac petals of a foxglove at at Dolaucothi Gold Mines, Carmarthenshire.
A fly perched on a foxglove at Dolaucothi Gold Mines | © ©National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

Nature and wildlife at Dolaucothi

The gold mines and the estate offer opportunities to get up close and personal with wildlife, even the mines themselves contain an abundance of wildlife, from spiders to moths and bats and rare fascinating fungi.

Who lives in the mines?

The European Cave Spider (Meta menardi) are repelled by light and choose to live in dark places such as caves and disused mines. The underground workings of the old gold mines make ideal habitats for the spiders, but their camouflage (being dark brown and black the same as shale rock) means that they are tricky to spot.

They are there, high up in the darkest corners sitting on their finely woven spherical webs.

A haven for bats

Another visitor to the mines are the many different species of bats recorded at Dolaucothi, such as Common Pipistrelle, Greater Horseshoe, Soprano Pipistrelle, Noctule, Natterer’s Bat, Brown Long Eared Bat and Barbastelle.

It’s the Greater Horseshoe bat that we see most often in the mines, a bat with the body the size of a small pear and one of the largest British bat species.

A cool spot for summer

The mines provide a great space for the bats to hibernate in winter and escape to a cool spot in summer. The mine gates have horizontal bars allowing the bats to easily fly in and out.

Birdlife at Dolaucothi

There are birds everywhere at Dolaucothi, although they don't venture very far into the mines themselves.

Around the estate you’ll see nuthatches, pied wagtails, blackbirds, thrushes and a variety of tits, including long-tailed, as well as the swallows who return to nest every year. You may even be lucky enough to spot a tree-creeper or pied flycatcher.

Red kites and goshawks

Keep your eyes on the skies where buzzards and red kites often oblige with dazzling displays of aerobatics, you might even be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a goshawk.

A cow is standing on a hillside looking towards the camera, with trees, rolling hills and a sunset in the background on the Dolaucothi Estate at Dolaucothi Gold Mines, Carmarthenshire
A cow on the Dolaucothi Estate at Dolaucothi Gold Mines | © National Trust Images/Andrew Butler

Walking at Dolaucothi

Meandering through the estate and woodlands are a network of footpaths allowing you to explore everything from riverside walks in the Cothi Valley to the upland scenry of the surrounding hills.

Woodland restoration and management

We manage the woodlands to improve the habitat conditions within them. At Dolaucothi this has meant interventions when disease has struck and management of non-native invasive species and involvement in Celtic Rain Forest LIFE+ Project with the RSPB and Snowdonia National Park.

An old mining tub at Dolaucothi Gold Mines, Carmarthenshire. The horizontal line on the hill is the remains of a roman leat.

Discover more at Dolaucothi

Find out when Dolaucothi is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

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Visiting Dolaucothi with your dog 

Dolaucothi is a two pawprint rated place. Dogs are welcome everywhere at Dolaucothi, from the tours of the Roman gold mine to the miles of footpaths to explore across the wider estate.

A close-up shot of pick marks carved into the rock at Dolaucothi Gold Mines, Carmarthenshire

History of Dolaucothi 

Gold mining at Dolaucothi started at least 2,000 years ago and ended just before the Second World War. Find out more about the UK’s only known Roman gold mine.