Top Five Small Islands of Wales
Published: Tuesday 17th Jun 2014
Written by: The Wales Cottage Holidays Team
Off the north-west coast and Pembrokeshire and in the Bristol Channel, Wales has a fascinating selection of small islands; this is a selection of five of them that are accessible to Wales Holidays cottage visitors.
Bardsey Island (Ynys Enlli in Welsh) lies 2 miles off the south-western tip of the Llŷn Peninsula in North Wales; just over half a mile wide and a mile long, boats providing day trips to the island are available from Pwllheli and Porth Meudwy, Aberdaron. An important religious site since the C6th and a major centre of pilgrimage from medieval times, Bardsey still remains an attraction for pilgrims and has the ruins of a C13th Abbey. A National Nature Reserve, over two hundred grey seals can be seen in mid-summer with a number of pups born each autumn; the island is on the migration routes of thousands of birds and about thirty species of bird nest here.
Llanddwyn is a small island south-west of Newborough on Anglesey at the western entrance to the Menai Strait; it is a tidal island and you can walk out to it except during high tides - or perhaps more importantly - walk back from it! The remains of St Dwynwen's Church can be found - Dwynwen is the Welsh patron saint of lovers, the equivalent of St. Valentine and her Saint's day is 25th January. Llanddwyn is part of the Newborough Warren National Nature Reserve.
Owned and managed by the RSPB, Ramsey Island has spectacular sea bird cliffs, coastal scenery and heathland and is the most important grey seal breeding colony in southern Britain. 2 miles long with cliffs up to 400 ft high, the island is just off the coast of Pembrokeshire on the north side of St Brides Bay. There is a boat service to Ramsey from St Justinian near St David’s from April to the end of October.
Caldey Island lies just south of Tenby in Pembrokeshire; the island has been home to various orders of monks since Celtic times and it is now owned by the Cistercian Order, whose picturesque monastery overlooks the village green. Two short monastic services take place during the day and visitors are welcome to attend. The village itself includes tea gardens, a post office with a small museum, a shop with the perfumes made by the monks, a gift shop and premises where chocolate bars are made by hand. Boats run to the island from Easter to October weekdays and from May to September on Saturdays; the island is closed on Sundays.
Some five miles off the coast of Cardiff in the Bristol Channel, Flat Holm is the most southerly point of Wales. During the C18th century, the island's location made it an ideal base for smuggling; it has twice been fortified - in the 1860s and after the outbreak of WWII. No doubt the most significant event in Flat Holm’s history occurred on 13 May 1897 when a young Italian inventor named Guglielmo Marconi transmitted the first wireless signals over open sea from Flat Holm to the mainland near Penarth. A 100 capacity ferry service to Flat Holm operates up to five times a month from Weston-super-Mare and many of these trips call at Cardiff to pick-up passengers; this allows five to seven hours to explore the island.