Marloes and St Brides
The Pembrokeshire Islands of Skomer and Skokholm are world-renowned seabird sanctuaries, best known for Puffins and Manx Shearwaters but also providing excellent views of cliff-nesting birds such as Guillemots, Razorbills, Fulmars and Kittiwakes. It is also usually possible to get good views of Grey Seals. Skomer also has magnificent displays of Bluebells in May followed by Red Campion. Grassholm is much further offshore and hosts thousands of pairs of Gannets - it can be visited by boat but no landing is possible.
Skomer also has a rich history of archaeology - the field systems from the Bronze and Iron age are particularly well preserved. A new survey is currently in progress - read about it here - and also worth looking at is the 2008 study, which has an excellent picture gallery. In 2011 Ray Mears visited Skomer to make a film about how the early residents of the islands would have survived.
For more information about Skomer look at the Skomer page of the Wildlife Trust website.
Skomer can be visited on day trips by boat from Martins Haven and it is also possible to stay overnight (in order to see Manx Shearwaters you should either stay overnight or go on an evening boat trip). Boats for Skomer leave from Martins Haven and can get very busy in peak season (May-June) - an early arrival is recommended. Also note that Skomer is closed to visitors from 15th to 17th May 2012 in order to carry out seabird census work. The boats will not run if the weather conditions are not suitable and landing conditions will be unsafe. This usually occurs when there is a strong northerly wind blowing - such conditions can last for days.
There are no cafes or shops on the islands, and only a limited amount of shelter - for day visits to Skomer you will need to take a packed lunch and suitable clothes and sun protection. The last shop before Martins Haven is in Marloes. The car park at Martins Haven is run by the National Trust and a fee is payable unless you are a member.
Further details about visiting Skomer can be found here on the website of the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales. For details of the boat trips to and around the Skomer look at the Pembrokeshire Islands website (run by Dale Sailing). For the latest information on what is being seen on Skomer have a look at the Skomer Blog.
For up-to-date information on boat sailings to Skomer click on the box on the left of this page labelled Skomer Boat Info. This will take you to a Twitter site where the latest information is posted twice daily.
PLEASE OBSERVE THE SPEED LIMIT WHILST DRIVING THROUGH MARLOES ON THE WAY TO CATCH THE BOAT!
The buildings and accommodation on Skokholm have recently been the subject of a major renovation, carried out almost entirely by volunteers and organised by the Friends of the Islands. It is hoped that the island can return to its former status as a Bird Observatory in the near future.
Skokholm provides accommodation for visitors for stays of several days - day visits are not currently possible.
For more information about Skokholm go to the Skokholm page on the Wildlife Trust website. For information about visiting and staying on Skokholm go to the Visiting and Staying page on the Wildlife Trust website. To watch an interesting series of six TV programmes about Skokholm, entitled “Dream Island” go to the ITV News website here)
Grassholm is the site of a very large gannetry. Boat trips to the island are available but no landing is permitted. However, magnificent views of feeding gannets can be seen all around the boat. Note that Grassholm is 11 miles offshore and the sea can be choppy. Grassholm is an RSPB reserve - for more information see the RSPB website. Boat trips run from St Justinians at St Davids (Thousand Islands expeditions) and also from Martins Haven with Dale Sailing.
THE PEMBROKESHIRE ISLANDS
SKOMER, SKOKHOLM AND GRASSHOLM