Visiting Marloes Sands and Mere
The Marloes landscape is a colourful combination of coast and countryside with sweeping sands, thriving wetlands and rocky islands for you to explore. A must-visit for beach lovers and birdwatchers as well as being a great place to discover the peninsula's renowned history and geology.
Things to see at Marloes Sands
The beach is a safe, sandy stretch of beach that’s suitable for bathing. It’s one of Pembrokeshire’s finest and is accessible from our car park.
Take a seaside stroll and you’ll notice that the south side of the peninsula consists of sedimentary sandstone. The rock pools have a wealth of marine creatures calling Marloes home.
Just inland you’ll find Marloes Mere, a wetland bustling with birdlife. Wildlife watching is a must, so bring your binoculars and bunk up at one of the hides overlooking the site.
The Mere is important for its breeding, migrant and wintering birds. Waterfowl and birds of prey are familiar faces in the winter months whilst spring sees the wetland alive with song.
The Deer Park
Perched on the clifftop, the Deer Park was once home to an Iron Age settlement. Now it’s the ultimate vantage point for spotting seals in the bays below and unearthing historic finds.
Despite its name, you won’t find any deer here. The name itself relates to a failed attempt to establish a deer park in the late 18th to early 19th century.
Iron Age fort
You can still walk up through the ramparts of the Deer Park’s Iron Age fort. It dates back more than 2,000 years and is the largest promontory fort in South Wales. With its towering coastal location, it’s easy to see how the fort was so well defended.
The peninsula is punctuated by dramatic, rocky islands that are renowned for their wildlife, prehistoric heritage and geology. View their silhouettes from the mainland or head offshore for a closer look.
Martin’s Haven and Skomer Marine Conservation Zone
Martin’s Haven is the peninsula’s harbour and is the departure point for the islands. It's also the base for the Skomer Marine Conservation Zone, the first of its kind in Wales.
Skomer Island and Skokholm Islands
Catch the boat from Martin’s Haven to nearby Skomer and Skokholm Islands. These islands support internationally important populations of breeding seabirds including puffins, razorbills, guillemots and fulmars. However, the most numerous and significant seabird on these islands is the Manx shearwater.
It is estimated that around half a million Manx shearwater pairs use Skomer, Skokholm and Middleholm to breed, which equates to over half of the world’s entire population of these amazing birds.
The islands are owned and run by the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, their onshore base is at Lockley Lodge. Visits to the islands can only be made through pre-booked tickets.
Middleholm Island (Midland Isle)
Visible from the Deer Park, Middleholm Island is just east of Skomer and is formed from volcanic rock. There are rough waters and tidal rips between the island and mainland, the hazardous stretch is known as Jack Sound. The island is owned and managed by National Trust and there is no public access.
A tidal island which is accessible at low tide – you can cross, but the climb is tricky and only for the sure-footed.
The plateau contains the remains of prehistoric settlements, and its Iron Age fort was the subject of a Time Team dig. It was once connected to the land by a land bridge, which has long since been worn away by the sea.
The island is Wales’s most western point and is a National Nature Reserve. Grassholm is owned and run by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and is home to 39,000 pairs of gannets, making it the third largest population for the species in the world.
Birdlife at Marloes
Birdwatching is a must at Marloes. Seabirds are a familiar sight along the coastline whilst the Mere’s wetland plays host to wildfowl and waders. So bring along the binoculars and get spotting – whether you want to watch from the clifftops or bunk up at one of the bird hides is entirely up to you.
These are just some of the birds you’ll see along the Marloes coast.
A rarer member of the crow family with red feet and bill. Around 60 pairs nest along the Pembrokeshire coast.
Often disputing airspace with ravens, peregrines are the other kings of the Pembrokeshire cliffs.
Around 39,000 pairs of gannets nest on Grassholm. Watch them dive for mackerel just offshore.
Dartford warblers are an exciting new addition to Pembrokeshire's birdlife, and you may be lucky to find them in areas of dense gorse and heather in the Deer Park.
With their monochrome feathers and brightly coloured beaks, puffins are unmistakable. The seabird is rather fond of Pembrokeshire too, with around 6,000 pairs of puffin breeding on Skomer Island. To see Puffins, you will need to visit Skomer by boat between April and the end of July.
These are the birds you're likely to see at Marloes Mere.
This spectacular bird of prey can turn up at any time, but you’re most likely to spot marsh harriers during spring and autumn migration. Two or three may be present, hunting over the Mere for birds and amphibians.
Teal, our smallest duck, hide in the dense wetland vegetation – they can be flushed out by a peregrine falcon or marsh harrier overhead.
Snipe feed at the wet edges of the marsh and can be hard to spot. Cold weather forces them out into the open and when disturbed, they zigzag wildly away with a sharp 'ketch' call.
Stonechats are resident all year round, and like Dartford warblers are vulnerable to hard winters. Listen out for their noisy 'squeak chack chack' calls from gorse bushes.
Whitethroats are common in spring and summer. Watch as they hurl themselves in the air for their noisy song flight. In winter they head for sub-Saharan Africa.
Marine life at Marloes
With seals, porpoises and all kinds of scarce species calling the water home, it’s easy to see why the coast is a designated Marine Conservation Zone.
Seals, porpoises and dolphins
In late summer, you can see Atlantic grey seals and their pups on remote beaches around the peninsula. Around 150 pups are born each year and you’ll get the best view of them from the Deer Park’s clifftop.
The rough stretch of water known as Jack Sound, which is between the Deer Park and Middle Isle, is a popular haunt for porpoises. Watch them make a splash and, if you’re lucky, you might see a dolphin or two – they’re known to make an appearance every now and again.
Rare sea creatures
Delve a little deeper into the water world and you’ll find nationally scarce species including the sea fan sea slug, pink sea fan sponge crab and crawfish, along with caves, reefs and wrecks.
Diving off the Marloes Peninsula is possible, but you’re best booking an organised trip with a local diving operator. They’ll work within the Pembrokeshire Marine Code and have the expert knowledge on tides and peak places.
Every 20 years a census is carried out to assess the size of the Manx shearwater colony on islands off the Pembrokeshire coast. The latest survey showed very promising results.
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