The Cleddau Trail
West Wales Rivers Trust’s Cleddau Trail is a two-part ‘Source to Sea’ road journey which features 20 sites to visit throughout the Cleddau rivers catchment. Although famous for its spectacular coastline, Pembrokeshire’s countryside is also beautiful, especially its rivers. Designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) the Cleddau rivers provide a haven for wildlife, including migratory fish, otters and a wide variety of birdlife, attracted by rich habitats such as shallow gravel beds, tidal creeks and pills, mudflats and steep wooded banks.
Throughout the Cleddau catchment there are many public footpaths and circular trails beside rivers and through surrounding countryside, providing a wealth of opportunities for discovering the history of the area and its wonderful wildlife.
The Western Cleddau Trail
Starting from the Cleddau river tributary at Scleddau village near Fishguard, the Western Cleddau Trail tracks the river through its catchment via Haverfordwest and beyond to the Daugleddau estuary and Milford Haven. This river provides ideal spawning and nursery grounds for migratory fish such as salmon and sewin (sea trout), which make their way upstream from the sea each Autumn.
The Eastern Cleddau Trail
The Eastern Cleddau Trail begins at Mynachlog-ddu, a village in north-east Pembrokeshire, where natural springs and regular rainfall help form the Eastern Cleddau river. Water from the catchment is stored in reservoirs at Rosebush and Llys-y-frân. Each day on average 33 mega litres of water are abstracted from the river at Welsh Water’s Canaston Bridge facility, to be piped to homes and businesses in Pembrokeshire.
The Daugleddau Estuary
The Eastern and Western Cleddau rivers, together with the Carew and Cresswell rivers in south-east Pembrokeshire, form the tidal estuary known as ‘Y Daugleddau’. The Welsh name aptly describes the shape of the rivers, which appear as ‘two swords’ carved into the Pembrokeshire landscape.
Pembrokeshire’s Fishing Heritage
The Daugleddau used to support busy oyster and herring fishing communities and Milford Haven was once a major fishing port, but nowadays deep-sea fish stocks have declined dramatically. The heritage Compass Net fishery at Little Milford still survives, but only a handful of licences are issued each season. Migratory Salmon spend their adult life at sea, returning to freshwater rivers to spawn. Their eggs hatch into tiny Alevins, which need clean gravel beds and oxygen-rich, unpolluted water to survive. Alevins develop into small fish known as Fry, then grow on to become Parr. Up to 3 years old, as Smolts, they head out to sea.
Due to the ever decreasing numbers of adult migratory fish, most anglers release their hard-fought prizes back to the rivers to ensure the adult fish survive to breed.