Carmel National Nature Reserve, near Llandeilo

Dramatic disused quarries, ancient woodland and the only seasonal lake in Britain

What's here

Coronavirus update


The car park and trail here are open.


Visiting our sites safely


We are working hard to provide a safe and welcoming experience as our sites re-open.


Please take personal responsibility for your safety, making additional preparations ahead of your visit and abiding by the safety measures in place.


We have changed the normal route for some of our trails to help you maintain social distancing – please follow signs on site.


See our tips about how to plan for and enjoy a safe visit.


Carmel National Nature Reserve is made up of a rich tapestry of habitats ranging from ancient woodland and flower-rich grassland to disused quarries.

The first features you are likely to notice are the old quarries: limestone has been extracted from this valley since the Middle Ages, while commercial lime manufacture, using kilns, began here in the 19th century.

People have been here much longer than that though - ancient skeletons have been found in caves at the Pant-y-llyn quarry and a Bronze Age flat axe was discovered here in 1962.

There is a waymarked walking trail and a small picnic area by the car park.

Britain's only seasonal lake

The reserve is home to the only turlough (a seasonal lake) in Britain.

No streams flow in or out of the turlough and it is fed solely by groundwater sitting in holes in the underlying limestone.

Known as Pant y Llyn (which means "hollow of the lake’" in Welsh), it fills up in winter and empties in most summers.

National Nature Reserve

Carmel is a National Nature Reserve.

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

There are over 70 National Nature Reserves in Wales.

Find out more about National Nature Reserves.

Seasonal highlights


Enjoy carpets of bluebells, dog’s mercury, ramsons and wood anemone in the woods

Go orchid hunting next to the path into the quarry

Keep your eyes peeled for the hundreds of toads making their way to the lake to spawn


Look out for rare plants like lily-of-the-valley, herb paris and toothwort in the woods

Enjoy limestone grassland flowers such as bird’s foot trefoil, marjoram, aquilegia and harebell

Try to spot woodland birds like treecreeper, great spotted woodpeckers and redstarts


Forage for fungi in the woods and brightly coloured wax caps in the grasslands

Take in the autumn colour and kick some leaves

Walking trail

The walking trail is waymarked from the car park.

Quarry Trail

1¼ miles, 2 kilometres, difficult

This circular walk climbs to the top of the quarry where you can take in the views.

It then passes through the woodland, which is full of bluebells in spring, to the turlough (a unique disappearing lake).

Closures and diversions

Please note:

  • Sometimes we need to close or divert trails for your safety whilst we undertake maintenance work or other operations
  • Occasionally we may have to close a site in extreme weather, such as high winds or snow and ice due to the risk of injury to visitors or staff
  • Please always follow any instructions onsite and make sure you follow any temporary diversion signs in place 

How to get here

Carmel National Nature Reserve is five miles south west of Llandeilo, off the A476.


Take the A476 from Llandeilo to Llanelli. Go through Carmel village and, after 1/3 mile, at a staggered crossroads turn left, signed to Llandybie. Follow this road for one mile and the reserve car park is on the left just before a junction.

If you take the A476 from Llanelli to Llandeilo, ignore the large brown and white nature reserve sign just before Carmel village (which takes you to the western section of the reserve looked after by the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales) and take the next right after this sign, signed to Llandybie. Follow this road for one mile and the reserve car park is on the left just before a junction.

Ordnance Survey map

Carmel National Nature Reserve is on Ordnance Survey (OS) map 178.

The OS grid reference is SN 605 164.

Public transport

For details of public transport visit the Traveline Cymru website.

Contact details

Tel: 0300 065 3000



Related document downloads