A relic of Rhos pastures, which was once widespread on the Coal Measures of South Wales, this Reserve is an intimate landscape of wet grassland and heathland bounded by mature hedgerows.

Reserve News

Welsh Mountain Ponies at CFF June 2022 Credit C Williams

June 2022: A herd of Welsh Mountain ponies and Dexter cattle are doing a great job opening up some of the ranker grassland and maintaining a suitable structure for the Marsh Fritillary butterfly.

We’re working in partnership with Carmarthenshire County Council, NRW, local conservation graziers and our fantastic team of volunteers to ensure that our piece of this important Marsh Fritillary landscape delivers for the butterfly.

History of the Caeau Ffos Fach Reserve

Butterfly Conservation opened this reserve in 2003.  Much of the land had been managed traditionally without the use of artificial fertilisers and used for grazing cattle and horses, allowing a rich biodiversity to flourish including the Marsh Fritillary butterfly.

Devil's-bit Scabious

Description and key features

The reserve is part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and the Mynydd Mawr Special Area of Conservation (SAC), which is nationally significant for its breeding population of Marsh Fritillary butterflies, as well as an example of the dwindling habitat type known as marshy grassland, rush or Rhos Pasture.

There are five fields of low, undulating grassland, surrounded by mature hedges and trees. Mainly marshy grassland and heathland, it is managed by controlled grazing to conserve the habitat favoured by the Marsh Fritillary and to benefit Devil’s-bit Scabious, the caterpillars’ food plant. The butterflies usually fly in early summer in warm dry weather.

Key species to look out for

  • Butterflies:   Marsh Fritillary,  Marbled White
  • Moths: Double Line, Small Chocolate-tip, Mother Shipton
  • Notable plants:  Devil’s-bit Scabious, Meadow thistle, Aspen, Whorled Caraway, Ragged Robin, Sneezewort
  • Other wildlife: Dormouse, Grasshopper Warbler
Dexter cattle at Caeau Ffos Fach July 2022 credit C Williams

Management activities

Brush cutting and controlled grazing with traditional breeds of cattle and ponies.

Location and Directions

Nearest town:  Ammanford, Carmarthenshire, postcode: SA14 6SF

Grid reference: Ordnance Survey Map Reference for site entrance SN576119 

By road, from the east:

  • From M4 Pont Abraham Services, take the A48 westbound towards Carmarthen
  • After about 3 1/2 miles, take the slip road signed to Cross Hands Retail and Business Park (before the main Crosshands roundabout)
  • Turn right at the mini roundabout and over the bridge across the A48
  • Go straight across the next mini roundabout
  • Take the next right into Meadows Road (Heol y Waun)
  • After about 1/4 mile, Meadows Road bends to the left - the reserve is on the left-hand side
  • Park on the right-hand grass verge, beyond the houses; please do not block residents’ access and beware of fast traffic on Meadows Road

By road from the west:

  • Take the A48 eastbound to Cross Hands roundabout
  • Take the third exit and continue eastbound towards Swansea for about 1/2 a mile
  • Then take the slip road signed to Cross Hands Retail and Business Park
  • At the mini roundabout, go left, then next right into Meadows Road  (Heol y Waun)
  • Continue as in the last two points in directions from the east (see above)

Cycling: The National Cycle Network Route 47 passes just north of Cross Hands at Cwm-y-glo.

By Bus:  Buses run from Carmarthen and Ammanford to the village of Cross Hands.  It is about a 1km walk from Cross Hands Post Office to the reserve.

By Rail:  The nearest railway station is at Ammanford. Please check for up-to-date information on a travel website.

Site access and safety

Park on the right-hand grass verge beyond the houses; please do not block residents access and beware of fast traffic on Meadows Road.

There is a stile beside the entrance gate and another just beyond that into the first field. The ground is wet and tussocky and cattle graze during the summer, so please leave gates as you find them.

There are no Public Footpaths across the site and so access is on a permissive basis.

Please keep all dogs on leads when livestock are grazing the reserve – all the fields are interconnected.

Most ticks are little more than an irritation, but a few can transmit Lyme disease, a rare and potentially serious illness which is treatable with antibiotics if diagnosed early. It is therefore important to be informed and take some simple precautions


Clare Williams (Conservation Officer)

Downloadable Reserve leaflet

Caeau Ffos Fach leaflet

51.787583, -4.065963

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