Explore the beautiful coastal environment around Dale Fort, Pembrokeshire and investigate the ecology of plants found in this stunning and diverse area.

The course will include two field visits, one to a salt marsh and the other to a sand dune system. There will be classroom-based sessions to put both habitats into their ecological and successional context and we will discuss how plants are adapted to these two extreme coastal environments.

These two coastal habitats contain many beautiful and interesting plant species adapted to some extreme environmental conditions. We will identify many of the common species and see how they are adapted to live in these transitional habitats between the land and sea.

This course will give students:

  • Practical experience in the field identification of salt marsh and sand dune plants.
  • Opportunities to carry out vegetation surveys in both habitats using a variety of survey techniques.
  • Time to explore habitats viewed in their environmental context, with special reference to the process of ecological succession.
Be led by an expert tutor, with in-depth subject and local knowledge

We will also discuss how various plants are adapted to living in these two quite extreme environments.

The field excursions involve walking up to a couple of miles on muddy or sandy terrain; therefore, course participants will need a reasonable degree of physical fitness.

Level descriptors can be found on the following webpage: Eco-Skills Framework and Course Level Descriptors

Please note that bookings will close at 2 pm on Friday 27th May to allow for all participants to be enrolled to the online platform – booking will not be taken after this time.

Tutor: John Archer-Thomson

For many years John Archer-Thomson was Assistant Head of Centre at FSC Dale Fort. He is now working as a freelance coastal ecologist, writer and photographer and runs a number of courses at Dale Fort each year. He co-wrote Rocky Shores, Volume 7 in Bloomsbury’s British Wildlife Collection.

Please note, the fee is for tuition, packed lunch and refreshments only.

If you would like to book accommodation and an evening meal at FSC Dale Fort please email [email protected]

Example Timetable

Day One:
Day one will be spent looking at the “Gann” salt marsh. Species identification will be the priority, but the fieldwork will be structured to provide an ecological framework within which to learn about the plants.

Day Two:
The second day will be spent at Freshwater West sand dune system. This beautiful location will be our backdrop for plant identification and ecological analysis. The fieldwork will be structured around a time sequence of different dunes and habitats to be found within the site. We will start by investigating a small stand of shingle vegetation to see how this relates to the ‘embryo dune’ starting point of this unique habitat.

What's Included

  • Expert Tuition

Before You Attend

What to Bring:
  • Warm clothing
  • Waterproof jacket and trousers
  • Outdoor footwear – sturdy shoes or boots and wellingtons for the saltmarsh
  • Day rucksack
  • Warm hat and gloves for inclement weather and sunhat and sun-cream for sunny days
  • Water bottles and/or thermos flask and packed lunch box