The early part of the school holidays was spent with friends in South Wales. Although it’s been years since I was in Pembrokeshire, much of the coastline we explored had a somewhat familiar feel about it. We even made it to the beach I used to go to as a child so the kids could catch fish in the rock pools. We also took a boat trip to the 750 acre Skomer Island which is renowned for its wildlife. It has the largest puffin colony in Southern Britain, the largest Manx-Shearwaters colony in the world and it’s one of the top places in Britain to see seals.
It’s a great set up at Martin’s Haven, which is just over ten miles away from Haverfordwest, with sailings six days a week. Tickets for the 50 seater passenger boat are allocated on a first come first serve basis at Lockley Lodge. There’s a great gift shop there and a brilliant live feed to Skomer Island. Although you can spend several hours there, we opted to do an Island Cruise which is a tour by fishing boat.
We had an hour or so’s wait so after coffee and shop purchases (POD got a soft toy seal), the others went for a walk while I looked after the bags. The landscape is beautiful and although I didn’t check out the little white building on top of the hill, there was still lots to see. Before set off, we even discovered a swallows nest in the public toilet before heading down to the boat. POD was a little alarmed at first as they were above her head while she was sitting down!
Although the boat caters for up to 50 people, we were lucky there were only 20 of us on the boat. The Dale Sailing crew that took us around the Marine Nature Reserve were hugely knowledgeable, not just about Skomer but nearby Skokholm and Grassland Islands – the latter has the largest Gannet Colony in the world. It wasn’t long before we spotted our first seal chilling on a rock as we passed by. Little did we know at that point how much wildlife we’d see in during the hour long boat trip.
I’ve not seen puffins before, that I remember anyway, so it was a thrill to see so many on the surrounding rocks and in the water. Some took off as we passed but many just bobbed around in the water. Not the easiest photographs to take from a boat which is also moving around a lot but there were lots of opportunities to capture the puffins.
We then saw a pod of seals on some nearby rocks. The water was much choppier at that point but we got a great view of these wonderful creatures from our boat. The little black dots you can see in the sea behind the seals are puffins, incredible to see so many on our excursion. The boat trip was an hour but felt so much longer, what a great experience for the kids too. On our return journey we got to understand more about the nearby landscape and take in the views. We even spotted someone on a cliff fishing before we reached the shore, bound for our next adventure.