Discovering Pembrokeshire’s Beautiful Islands
In addition to its stunning mainland, Pembrokeshire has some magnificent islands not far from its rugged coastline – in fact, if you stay with us at Warpool Court Hotel you’ll be lucky enough to see a few of them from our luxurious rooms! Teeming with wildlife, many of these spectacular isles are now nature reserves and are great places to see a variety of seabirds as well as seals, dolphins, porpoises and much more. With local companies offering various boat tours, it’s easier than ever to explore these remote and beautiful areas of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. Late summer and autumn are a good time to visit the islands both in terms of weather and wildlife, so here are five of the most well-known for you to discover.
Just 1km off the coast of St David’s Head (and the closest to our hotel) Ramsey Island has some of the most dramatic cliffs anywhere in Wales. A perfect breeding ground for a variety of birds, the island is an RSPB reserve and in summer it’s home to colonies of kittiwakes, fulmars, choughs, buzzards and peregrines, amongst others. As autumn approaches you may see more unusual migrant bird species paying the island a visit and seal pups begin to populate the rocks and beaches. At this time of year much of the island is covered in a soft carpet of pink and purple heathers which makes a walk around the 3 ½ mile island trail all the more spectacular. The views from Ramsey are breathtaking and on a clear day you can see the mainland, Skomer Island to the south or (if visibility is very good) Ireland to the west.
Skomer and Skokholm
At the other end of St Bride’s Bay lie the islands of Skomer and Skokholm, probably most well known for their puffin colonies. By late summer most of these brightly coloured visitors have flown back out to sea but there’s plenty more wildlife to spot during your visit, not to mention some wonderful scenery to enjoy. Manx shearwaters breed here in their thousands and it is believed to be the largest concentration of these birds anywhere in the world. Although late August is the end of the Manx shearwater season when the adults take to the sea, this is the time when the chicks begin to emerge from their burrows. Day trips to the islands are very popular but you can also book an overnight stay if you want to experience these remote and fascinating isles after dark. To find out which birds and animals you might see during your visit, check out the fantastic Skomer and Skokholm Island blogspots for up-to-date information.
Famous for being home to one of the largest gannet colonies in the world, the smaller island of Grassholm sits further out to sea, west of Skomer. An RSPB reserve, there are approximately 39,000 pairs of gannets breeding here, so many in fact, that the island appears white as you approach it. During late summer the chicks are becoming strong enough to begin leaving the island so there’s still plenty going on at this time of year. Although it is not possible to land on Grassholm, circling the island in a boat is an incredible experience, not only for the impressive sight of cliffs and sky filled with thousands of raucous birds but also for the rather pungent smell that goes with it! There’s a lot of marine life to spot in the surrounding waters too, so keep your eyes peeled during the journey to and from this isolated but spectacular place.
And now for something completely different! Whilst Pembrokeshire’s other islands are wild and generally uninhabited, Caldey Island has been populated since the stone-age and is now home to a community of Cistercian monks. Just a short boat trip from Tenby harbour you’ll be transported into their picturesque and tranquil world. Explore the medieval churches, monastery, museum and lighthouse while you’re here and take in the stunning views of the mainland. You can also visit the island’s shop where the monks sell their wonderful handmade perfumes, toiletries and delicious chocolate. A great day out for all the family!
Warpool Court Hotel is the perfect base from which to explore these incredible islands, so why not book a room and start your adventure? If you’d like more information about boat trips to the islands during your stay our friendly reception staff will be happy to help.