Morfa Harlech National Nature Reserve, near Harlech

What's here


Morfa Harlech National Nature Reserve is one of the most important actively growing dune systems in Britain and one of only a handful in Wales. 

Dunes like these with bare sand areas are becoming increasingly rare. 

This impressive coastal landscape is one of our richest natural treasures and home to a diverse range of plants and animals, all especially adapted to life at the edge of the sea.

Together with Morfa Dyffryn National Nature Reserve in the south, the two reserves form an almost continuous area of sand dunes along the coastline. 

Visiting Morfa Harlech

There is a public footpath from Min y Don car park to the beach (turn right along the beach to reach the start of the reserve).

We have fenced off some parts of the reserve to allow grazing or to protect fragile dune plants.

There are public toilets in Min y Don car park which are run by Gwynedd Council (open seasonally).

Seasonal dog restrictions

Please keep dogs on leads during the bird breeding season March – July; ringed plovers nest right on the beach and other birds nest in the dunes and saltmarsh.

What to see on the National Nature Reserve

Morfa Harlech is a National Nature Reserve.

National Nature Reserves are places with some of the very finest examples of wildlife habitats and geological features.

The landscape and wildlife varies depending on which time of year you visit – here’s what to look out for.

Sand dunes support a range of rare flowers

In spring and summer keep an eye out for the three-coloured dune pansy, the pyramidal orchid or even the scarce bee orchid.

You may also be lucky enough to see a maiden pink.

In autumn, there are displays of late flowering plants such as autumn gentians and autumn ladies tresses within the dunes. Look out for unique fungi growing in the dunes, too!

A home for scarce insects

When in flower, the dry dune grasslands are home to a number of butterflies and moths, such as the six-spot burnet moth and the common blue and small copper butterflies.

Other insects such as some of our rarest mining bees and solitary wasps depend on bare sand and you may spot a sand lizard, too.

Morfa Harlech’s feathered friends

Ringed plover nest on the beach from March – July so please try not to disturb them!

Birds such as the skylark and stonechat breed in the dunes, with redshank and lapwing using the saltmarsh.

In winter wading birds such as oystercatcher, dunlin and sanderling feed along the shoreline, and wildfowl make use of the estuaries and saltmarsh.

National Nature Reserves in Wales

There are over 70 National Nature Reserves in Wales.

 Find out more about National Nature Reserves.

Wales Coast Path

The Wales Coast Path goes through Morfa Harlech National Nature Reserve.

The Wales Coast Path provides a continuous walking route around the coastline of Wales.

To find out more go to the Wales Coast Path website .

Eryri (Snowdonia) National Park

Morfa Harlech is in Eryri (Snowdonia) National Park.

Eryri is the largest National Park in Wales and is home to picturesque towns and villages and the highest mountain in Wales.

It is looked after by the Eryri National Park Authority.

For more information about visiting Eryri go to the Eryri National Park Authority website.

Visiting safely

We want you to return home safely after your visit here.

You are responsible for your own safety as well as the safety of any children and animals with you during your visit.

Please note:

  • Do not dig holes or tunnels in the sand dunes - sand can collapse and su­ffocate you.
  • Beware of partially buried fences in the dunes - they can be dangerous.
  • Please keep dogs on leads during the bird breeding season March – July; ringed plovers nest right on the beach and other birds nest in the dunes and saltmarsh.
  • Do not touch any military debris - it may explode! Report any suspect objects to the Police by calling 999.
  • Livestock graze the dunes and saltmarsh – please keep away from grazing animals.

For advice and tips to help you plan your visit here go to Visiting our places safely.

Changes to visitor facilities

See the top of this webpage for details of any planned closures or other changes to visitor facilities here.

For your safety, always follow instructions from staff and signs including those for trail diversions or closures.

We may divert or close trails whilst we undertake maintenance work or other operations and we may need to close other visitor facilities temporarily.

In extreme weather, we may close facilities at short notice due to the risk of injury to visitors and staff.

How to get here 


Morfa Harlech National Nature Reserve is less than a mile to the west of Harlech. 

It is in the county of Gwynedd.


From Barmouth, take the A496 towards Harlech.

At the right turn for the village of Harlech stay on the A496 (signposted to Maentwrog).

Go over the level crossing and take the next left. Follow this minor road (Ffordd Glan Mor) to the car park.

Ordnance Survey map 

Morfa Harlech National Nature Reserve is on Ordnance Survey (OS) map OL 18.

The OS grid reference is SH 574 316. 

Public transport 

The nearest train station is in Harlech. 

There is a bus service from both the south (Barmouth and Dolgellau) and north (Maentwrog) along the A496. There is a bus stop at the end of Ffordd Glan Mor.

For details of public transport visit the Traveline Cymru website


The Min y Don car park is run by Gwynedd Council and there is a parking charge. 

There is a bicycle rack in the car park.

Contact details

There are no staff at this location.

Contact our customer team for general enquiries during office hours, Monday to Friday.

Related document downloads

Other places in North West Wales

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