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Wildlife spotting at Stackpole

Swans on Stackpole Lakes , Pembrokeshire
Swans on Stackpole Lakes , Pembrokeshire | © National Trust Images / Sue Jones

Binoculars at the ready, Stackpole's teeming with flora and fauna all year round. Spot the infamous otters at the lakes, bats roosting in the woodland and butterflies on the wing. Or head to the acres of woodland and spot ancient trees and colourful flora displays.

Discover the animal stars of Stackpole

Stackpole's wonderful for wildlife watching, across the estate you'll find creatures great and small. Here’s a few suggestions for wildlife and flora to look out for on your visit.


The spring-fed Bosherston Lakes support rare freshwater plants, and there’s a healthy population of otters here. They feed on the eels, pike, perch, roach and tench that live in the lake and really are the stars of Stackpole.


We’re home to the largest colony of greater horseshoe bats in Wales, one of the largest concentrations in Britain. The greater horseshoes are one of 12 species of bat that live here; sleeping, breeding and hibernating in many of the old buildings and trees across the estate.


The estate's varied landscape makes it a great place for bird-spotting. In the woodland, you'll find everything from wrens, chiffchaffs and goldcrests to buzzards, tawny owls and sparrowhawks.

A pair of otters curiously popping up their heads amongst water lilies at Stackpole, Pembrokeshire, Wales.
A pair of otters at Stackpole | © ational Trust Images/Jim Bebbington


Bosherston Lakes welcome wildfowl during the winter, with the likes of goosander and gadwall making an appearance. You'll also spot breeding birds too including the heron, kingfisher, little grebe and moorhen.

Head closer to the coast and you may come across chough, two or three pairs breed here in caves and crevices in the cliffs. They feed largely on insects and grubs which they probe for in the short coastal turf or the dung of grazing cattle.


At least 30 species are commonly found here. Many of them depend on short- grazed grassland rich in coastal flowers. Look out for the silver-studded blue or common blue butterfly, which can also be found fluttering around the estate.

Coastal flowers

In May, Stackpole Head and Saddle Point turn blue with the flowering of the spring squill. The beaches and dunes support specialist plants able to survive in such dry and salty conditions such as sea holly and sea kale.

A close up photo of a wildflower meadow at Stackpole, Pembrokeshire featuring tall, purple wild orchids.
Wild orchids flowering in the meadow at Stackpole | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

Wild flowers and ancient trees at Stackpole


There is a great range of orchids at Stackole, from early purple orchids to autumn ladies' tresses. Look out for bee and pyramidal orchids in the dunes, and marsh orchids in the damp sandy areas behind Broadhaven South and Freshwater West.

Ancient trees

Admire Stackpole's wonderful woodland, a combination of wet woodlands at the head of Bosherston Lakes and large areas of mixed woodland. Most of the trees here are less than 200 years old, with many planted by the Cawdors, the family who created the designed landscape and lived at Stackpole Court.

These not only included the beeches and sweet chestnuts that you can see today, but also trees and shrubs collected from around the world. Some of these are now causing us major problems because they have spread well beyond the areas where they were first planted (these include laurel, Himalayan honeysuckle and holm oak).

Mixed fortunes

In the 1960s, large areas were planted with conifers, but these are gradually being removed to be replaced with broadleaf trees like ash, oak and, increasingly, sycamore.

Sycamore comes into leaf early and therefore favours those plants which flower early, like bluebell, primrose and wild garlic, and our fern communities which like to grow in shady conditions. These give Stackpole woods their characteristic appearance.

Four walkers on the Stackpole wildlife route, Pembrokeshire


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