Pembrokeshire: a puffin island

See puffins on one of the most accessible and important seabird colonies in north-west Europe.

A small cove, Martin’s Haven, foots the curve of Pembrokeshire’s St Brides Bay. From there, the 50-seat Dale Princess carries visitors over the brisk Irish Sea to Skomer Island. The seascape here is as captivating as a treasure map. Archipelagos of skerries and islets named Tusker Rock, Crab Stones and Deadman’s Bay pass by, along with glimpses of natural arches and caves.

The final skip across Jack’s Sound to Skomer is windy but exhilarating, passing rock formations and sheltered coves, before disembarking at North Haven.

BBC CountryFile: Skomer Island

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ISLAND SIGHTS

Skomer’s landmarks are even more delightful. Seal Hole and Shag Rock live up to their names, and inland there are waterfalls, streams and ponds to picnic by. As well as all the natural sights, there are ancient standing stones, forts and remains of ancient settlements to explore. The beautiful island makes a fantastic backdrop for photos of Skomer’s famous puffins.

Thousands of pairs breed here. They’re easy to spot; waddling about comically, with mouthfuls of gleaming sand eels. The island’s isolation means predators are absent, making an ideal breeding ground for burrow- nesting seabirds. Tiny Skomer (just two miles east to west) is also a popular breeding ground for burrow- dwelling Manx shearwaters. However, you’ll have to stay over in the comfortable visitor accommodation to see these nocturnal birds.

Other island birds to look out for include kittiwakes, guillemots and razorbills, as well as migratory birds such as skylarks, swallows and chiffchaffs, which use Skomer as a stop-over. Trails criss-cross the island, but for the full Skomer experience, pick up the main four- mile coastal trail.

Set off clockwise, looking out for gulls, from the tiny kittiwake to the Great black-backed variety. Over High Cliff, birds wheel and dive. The Skomer guillemot colony, the largest and most important… (click the magazine page image above to read the rest of this article).