Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Finding the Welsh ponies

As part of my plan to travel the length and breadth of Britain to photograph all the British native ponies in their native environments, I next visited Wales.

After quite a long drive of about 6 hours, and after driving through some places with funny names ( one place was called Pant, which we thought was really funny due to being very immature ) we arrived at the South of the Snowdonia National park.

I hadn't had time to do much research on where to find the feral Welsh ponies, but I knew they were somewhere in the park. It wasn't until the next day when I started driving through the park that I realised it is massive !

snowdonia national park website

How on earth was I going to find the ponies ?  I asked around at some tourist information places and finally a woman found out they were near a place called Aber common and pointed to an area on the map near the top of the park.

We drove to the area but couldn't find a road that seemed to go where we wanted to go.  We eventually took chance and headed up a very steep, tiny single track road.  We got to the top and there was a car park and some paths up onto the hill, so we decided to take a look.  A man walking his dog just got back to the car park and I asked him if he had seen any ponies.  He said no he hadn't seen any ponies today, but he was a local and said they were around somewhere up on the hill or in the valley.  He said there are 3 small herds in different areas, and some had just had foals.  Sometimes he would see them other times he didn't.  I was so excited we had found the right area, and that they had foals, but I was a bit worried we wouldn't find them.

As we walked up through the gate I saw a National trust sign that said 'Carneddau' and remembered that during my research I had read about the feral Carneddau ponies, so we were definitely in the right area for seeing some proper feral ponies. 

The Carneddau ponies are in the group of Welsh ponies called Welsh section A mountain ponies, and the ones on Carneddau common are truly feral and have been here for 100's if not 1000's of years.  Welsh mountain section a ponies are on the endangered breeds list as vulnerable, although the wild ones are extremely rare.

We walked up the hill to the left rather than into the valley, and carried on a little.  After about only 1/2 mile or so we spotted the ponies in the distance - I couldn't believe how lucky we were.

We crept up slowly and quietly as they are not handled or used to humans being too close.

Feral Welsh Carneddau mountain ponies

I sat and watched them for a while, but kept my distance as they knew I was there.  I slowly crept a little closer.  One of the ponies gave me a shifty look and moved the others away a bit.  He was beautiful and strong, and had the most amazing long mane.  I knew by the way he was behaving that he was the stallion.

Carneddau pony stallion

I hung around with them for a few hours and they gradually got used to me, allowing me to get fairly close, but never too close.  I managed to get some lovely photos of them, so please read the next blog to see more photos and find out more about these lovely little rare and endangered ponies.


  1. Sounds like you had a good time. Cool photos. So when will you come visit us and see the New Forest ponies?

    1. As it happens we are going to the south at the end of October, so I am going to photograph the New Forest ponies then - can't wait as I really miss seeing them.