Bardsey IslandAberdaron, Llŷn Peninsula
Bardsey Island, Llŷn Peninsula, North Wales
For an unforgettable day trip on the Llŷn Peninsula, you must visit Bardsey Island, known to locals as Ynys Enlli. The calm and tranquil island is the fourth largest offshore island in all of Wales boasting rugged scenery, a wide range of wildlife and a wealth of history. Bardsey Island is one of the top attractions to visit in North Wales, allowing visitors to ride across the sea for a day visit, or to stay the week in one of the converted Grade II buildings. No better escape from modern day life!
Stepping onto the beautiful Ynys Enlli just offshore of Aberdaron village is like stepping into a largely vanished world. Forget electricity and internet, and get in touch with the spiritual nature of the island. It has inspired award-winning literature and landscape artwork, and has attracted a number of internationally known singers, not to mention tons of locals and holidayers! So leave behind your mobile phone and pick up some binoculars. With a network of rural pathways to explore, converted buildings displaying exhibits, farmland, a lighthouse with outstanding views, there is plenty to do and see here.
The daytime trip to Bardsey Island is a great day out for the whole family. The 15-20 minute boat ride across Swnt Enlli (the stretch of water between Aberdaron and the island) will transport you to a forgotten world where you can spend up to four hours roaming the grounds, spotting the local wildlife and learning about the religious history of Ynys Enlli. There is a cafe and some shops on the island.
The wild Welsh island still supports a living and working community, with fishing, farming, and caring for the guests staying in the old Victorian farmhouses. On the boat trip, you will learn all about what is involved in maintaining the island, with a guide helping you spot the local wildlife including the rare Manx Shearwater, seals and diverse range of flora. Home to rare species of birds and plant life, the island has been listed as a Special Protection Area for breeding and conservation. Bardsey Island is also a site of Special Scientific Interest and is in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty - you will be able to look back to the mainland, admiring the dramatic coastline of the Llŷn Peninsula from afar and lose yourself on this fascinating gem!
Ynys Enlli is 1.5 miles long and just over half a mile wide and has a surface area of 180 hectares. On the island, you can venture into the depths of the island’s religious, cultural and spiritual past by visiting the remains of the 1500-year-old abbey and the open chapel that is still in service today. Bardsey Island was a place of pilgrimage since the early years of Christianity, with sites on the island suggesting settlements dating from even earlier periods. It is well known for being the ‘burial place of 20,000 saints’, a reference dating back to the early middle ages when three pilgrimages were said to equal one to Rome! There is so much to learn about this significant landmark that one visit may not be enough.
On the island you will also be able to see the tallest square-towered lighthouse in all of the UK, the Bardsey Bird and Field Observatory (established since 1953 and have since recorded at least 310 different species of bird occupying the island), as well as see the remaining Bardsey Apple trees (Growing a rare apple variety which may be the only survivors of an orchard nurtured on site by monks over 1,000 years ago!).
A visit to Bardsey Island is a true crowd-pleaser and people continue to return time and time again. Discover for yourself what makes this island truly magical, and take away with you some more knowledge of North Wales and a new favourite destination!
The island is still a running community and therefore has no official opening/closing hours. However, it is accessed by boat from Porth Meudwy near Aberdaron on the mainland, and the boat trips run most days (weather dependent). In season, they usually run three times daily approximately 9:3-. 10:30 and 11:30 returning 13:30, 14:30 and 15:30. For visitors staying at the on site accommodation, the boat journey and check in/out is Saturday to Saturday.
Please call in advance to avoid disappointment as boat trips may be cancelled when the weather is forecast to be bad.
There is no designated picnic spot but there are plenty of grassy areas where you could settle down for a picnic on the ground with a blanket (please do ensure you leave no rubbish behind which may be harmful to the local animals). Bring your own food and flask of tea/coffee, but I would suggest packing lightly as you will be carrying your bags for the duration of your visit.
Parking on the mainland near Aberdaron. For those staying in one of the buildings on the island, there is secure long stay parking at Cwrt Farm just outside of Aberdaron village.
For those visiting for the day, there is the National Trust Car park near enough opposite the entrance of Cwrt Farm.
Not ideal, although with a call in advance, extra care can be taken to ensure the boat journey is suitable for your requirements. Not suitable for wheelchair/pushchair users and those with limited mobility. Please note that there are no transport services on the island but special arrangements can be made for those with walking difficulties.
Other useful info
When visiting, please ensure you are wearing suitable clothing for the boat ride and for if the weather turns while you are on the island. A coat, suitable and comfortable footwear, and possibly waterproofs. You may also want to consider bringing art materials or a fishing rod to make the most of your time here.
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