Sychnant Pass, Conwy

The earliest known surviving moth record for Caernarvonshire (vc49) is of a Weaver’s Wave in Sychnant Pass, above Conwy, in 1856. The species had been discovered ‘new to Britain’ only the year before. Ashworth’s Rustic was found in 1881, having been discovered ‘new to science’, near Llangollen in 1853. Sychnant subsequently became the best known locality. With these two Nationally Notable species, known only from the mountains of North Wales, Sychnant has become one of the most recorded sites in North Wales.

Sychnant Pass and the surrounding hills are dominated by dry Western Gorse/Bell Heather heathland with extensive screes, crags, and steep slopes. Species present include Ashworth’s Rustic and Weaver’s Wave, Crescent Dart, Northern Rustic, Grey Scalloped Bar, Narrow-winged Pug, Annulet, Anomalous, Heath Rustic, Map-winged Swift, Welsh Wave, Galium Carpet and Feathered Ranunculus. Common Heath and Small Heath abound on sunny summer days with Emperor Moth and occasional Green Hairstreak.

The 150 acre Victorian Pensychnant Estate at the top of the Pass, now a conservation centre and nature reserve ( lends diversity to the available habitats, with a patchwork of Ancient and Victorian Woodlands, upland pastures, and marsh (and ‘improved’ pastures). Species such as The Confused, Muslin Footman, Common and Satin Lutestring occur, with a great many common or generalist species and occasional rarities. Pensychnant seems to be a stronghold for Cloaked Carpet in the vice-county and there are tantalising records of Square-spotted Clay in 1970s and 80s.

The Sphagnum bog-lake, Gwern Engan, a SSSI just outside the estate wall is highly regarded by The British Dragonfly Society, with 16 species recorded. Emperor Dragonfly, once rare, are now common here, with Southern and Northern Hawker, Emerald Damselfly, and Common and Black Darter. Four-spotted Chaser, Keeled Skimmer and Hairy Dragonfly may also be seen.

In Victorian times many eminent lepidopterists holidayed in ‘Conway’ (now Conwy) or Penmaenmawr to visit Sychnant, and other lepidopteran hotspots only a few miles away, such as Morfa Conwy for Belted Beauty, and the Great Orme for Silver-studded Blues. These are still the closest small towns to stay, with lots of B&B’s, hotels, self-catering or camping. The warden at Pensychnant ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) is always willing to talk moths and may give permission to trap on the estate in return for records. Even here, on one of the most recorded sites in North Wales, it is always possible to find new species or contribute useful data. For instance, the Ashworth’s Rustic caterpillar has not been recorded since 1997 and micros are under-recorded; or go elsewhere in the mountains to find Ashworth’s Rustic where it was hitherto unknown. However, probably we will not match the pioneering natural history skills of the Victorian entomologists: the first Ashworth’s Rustic at Sychnant was discovered by Porritt as a batch of unfamiliar eggs (which he reared). Imagine discovering a new species from finding its eggs!

by Julian Thompson, Pensychnant Conservation Centre & Nature Reserve


All images taken by Julian Thompson

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Accommodation details

Gwynedd (please note that this property is located 52 miles away from Sychnant Pass)

ABERSOCH - Llyn Peninsula

Name: Tower Cottage Caravan mthtrpfdlysml
Location: Bwlch Tocyn, near Abersoch (adjacent to a Site of Special Scientific Interest)   
Type of accommodation: Self contained Static Caravan
Address: Tower Cottage, Bwlch Tocyn, Pwllheli, Gwynedd LL53 7BU 

The caravan is located on its own and in a reasonably isolated location in the grounds of a private house. There is a double bedroom, twin bedroom, lounge with dining area, kitchen, shower, WC and wash hand basin.  Gas fire in Lounge, electric heaters in bedrooms.

The Welsh coast path passes close by and offers good opportunities for bird watching and superb views across Cardigan Bay.  There is a beach just 5 minutes walk away and the village of Abersoch which is well served with shops, restaurants and bars is a pleasant forty minutes walk – less when the tide is out!  

From the Lounge the view is across the bay towards Abersoch.   Visitors may see pheasants wander past, rabbits, occasionally a fox, hens pottering around and buzzards and ravens flying overhead, the former nesting in the wood opposite the caravan.  Choughs can be heard and seen along the coast path.

Visitors are welcome to enjoy the peace and quiet of the site, relaxing with a book on the swing, sitting by the pond watching dragonflies and butterflies or wandering around the headland enjoying the spectacular views. Well behaved dogs welcome.

Two moth-traps are put out regularly. Visitors are welcome to put out their own traps or can help with identification of the moths caught.   Highlights of trapping in this location have been Delicate, Crimson Speckled, Yellow Cinnabar and Large Ranunculus.  Apart from the proprietor no one else is recording moths on a regular basis on the Llyn peninsula.

Proprietor: Margery Griffin
Contact details: 078111 86969 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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