Skomer Island is my most favourite place to be in the summer months and I can’t wait each year for the puffins to come back to breed. They arrive sometime in early April and leave from mid July onwards. Outside of these times there’s still a lot to see on the island with seals, passing porpoise and dolphins, passage birds, fulmars, guillemots and razorbills, short-eared and little owls and one of the largest manx shearwaters breeding populations in the world. I only see shearwaters when I stay on the island as they come in under cover of darkness to avoid their predators; the black backed gulls. I love the island in May when the bluebells and campion are at their best and the island is carpeted in flowers.
Skomer Island is less than a mile offshore so only a short boat ride away. The boats don’t tend to run in northerly winds as it’s too rough to then get across Jack Sound and land safely. To buy landing tickets from the Wildlife Trust I have to head to the National Trust carpark at Martins Haven at about 8am and queue at Lockley Lodge which opens at 8.30am. If you’re visiting and stay at http://www.monkhaven.co.uk/ they’ll even take the pain out of the early morning queue and get your tickets for you while you have a leisurely breakfast. Other useful nearby accommodation is https://www.fieldslodge.co.uk/ or http://www.clockhousemarloes.co.uk/ https://www.rosemoor.com/
The West West Wildlife Trust manage the island and more information can be found here https://www.welshwildlife.org/skomer-skokholm/skomer/ The first boat leaves at 10am so after buying my landing ticket (you still need cash to pay the boatman) I take a walk up into the Deer Park ( no deer have ever been kept here) and check out the views towards Skomer Island and often see a great choice of birds, that’s if I don’t pop back to the Clockhouse for breakfast! On the boat trip I’m so excited and soon start to see the birds on the water. I may even spot porpoise feeding in the tidal rush in Jack Sound (keep your eyes peeled for diving gannets as they’re often feeding on the same food source). I went on an ‘Island Cruise ‘ this April (2018) with my grandchildren and we saw at least 20 porpoise – the skipper stopped the boat and let us watch them – Finn and Bella were in raptures and are still talking about how wonderful it was and can’t wait to go again. This ‘cruise’ is good for the less able who can’t manage the steep steps up to the island paths as you get to see the birds from the water. http://www.pembrokeshire-islands.co.uk/boat-trips/
If you’re camping there’s a site just above Martins Haven http://www.westhookfarm-camping.co.uk/ This is just a hop, skip and a jump away from Lockley Lodge and you’ll have time to go back for a coffee and then walk down the coast path to catch the boat. You’ll be on the island for 5 hours so take water and food. You can hire binoculars on the island.
The nearest villages to Martins Haven are Marloes and Dale with several b & bs and a pub in each village. This area is a little off-grid so make sure you bring enough cash to last through your stay – there are no cash dispensing machines in either village and not every business will accept cards but there is a post office in Marloes. Public transport is sparse but the coastal shuttle bus does pass through daily in the season. After a long hot day on the island I love to sit and watch the boating activity from ‘the wall’ in Dale. This village is where I grew up so it’s very special to me. The pub here is called the Griffin and has good food – worth checking their opening times to avoid being disappointed. http://www.griffininndale.co.uk/menus/
Here are some images taken on our Islands. The most puffin activity on Skomer is in late May and June/early July. I hope you enjoy this island as much as I do…. If you like these images and would like to see more photographs please hop across to https://www.pembrokeshiremoments.co.uk