Visiting Skomer Island, Wales


This is the place for you if you've ever wanted to visit Puffins in the wild. Visiting Skomer Island is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see these magical birds up close and in their natural environment.

Lockley Lodge Visitor Centre is the place to start your adventure.

Before you head off, check the weather. The boats don't cross in very bad weather. Also, check out their twitter feed to see if the boats ran the day before. If they didn't they'll be more people on the day you go. They post around 7.30am if they are running or not.

You buy the tickets for landing on Skomer Island here at Lockley Visitor Centre. At the same time, you can also pick up a guide book which has a map, bird identification and other information on the island.

Get there early. It's a first in first served system here as there are limited numbers each day. I arrived at the car park at 6.40am and there were already about 50 people ahead of me. It's £6 to park all day and it's then a short walk down to the centre.

The line goes from the centre, down the hill toward the ferry and tickets don't go on sale until 8.00am so be prepared for a wait.

Lockley Lodge at the top of the hill and the road that you queue on for tickets

Lockley Lodge at the top of the hill and the road that you queue on for tickets

Once the office opened it took another half an hour to get the ticket. They ask your preference for the time to catch the ferry and then you're on your way.

THE FERRY

About 15 minutes before your ferry departs it's time to go down to the landing.

The ferry departs from here and it's just a quick walk up and down the stairs and uneven ground to get to it

The ferry departs from here and it's just a quick walk up and down the stairs and uneven ground to get to it

A small, 50 person boat takes you across to Skomer Island and it's only a short 15-minute boat ride.

It does get a bit rough even with good weather but that just adds to the excitement.

Landing on Skomer is similar to leaving the mainland except it is up 87 steps, which are steep. At the top, you have the ranger talk telling you where you can and can't go and what to expect to see.

Rule number 1, keep to the paths. The burrows that the birds and other animals make are prone to collapse, so be careful.

SKOMER ISLAND

Climbing the steps you will see puffins straight away but the talk comes first and there are plenty more puffins to see.

After the talk, you're free to wander the island. There is the walk around the island which is 6.5kms (4 miles). You also have paths which lead to the Old Farm which is in the centre of the island. This is where the toilets and the visitor centre is.

There are many points of interest along the way other than Puffins including hides over ponds to watch wading birds and remnants of Iron Age houses.

The remnants of an Iron Age Roundhouse

The remnants of an Iron Age Roundhouse

We were told that it takes three hours to walk around the outside of the island but I don't think that accounted for spending so much time with Puffins as it took me 4 hours and I was the third one back to the ferry.

THE PUFFINS

Up the path to the top of the island was next. Puffins are off the slopes of this pathway.

Puffins standing outside their burrows on the slopes leading back down to where the ferry came in

Puffins standing outside their burrows on the slopes leading back down to where the ferry came in

The Puffins are everywhere and everyone has a camera ready. Something else I've never seen before is so many LARGE lenses, and I mean large and long to capture the wildlife here.

The path here is steep and rocky but most were level with less rocks

The path here is steep and rocky but most were level with less rocks

Once at the top you could decide where to walk or which way around the island.

I took the clockwise route around the island, stopping off at more points of interest along the way.

The first turn-off I did was to the Harold Stone.

It was first noticed on the 21st Jun 2012, by chance, that there was a midsummer solstice solar alignment. They think this stone may date back to the Bronze Age

It was first noticed on the 21st Jun 2012, by chance, that there was a midsummer solstice solar alignment. They think this stone may date back to the Bronze Age

Back on the main path along the coastline, you see rock formations on land and the changing cliff faces from the erosion from the sea and wind.

The path is good along the top of the island, just make sure you stick to it and don't wander off destroying burrows

The path is good along the top of the island, just make sure you stick to it and don't wander off destroying burrows

There were three main Puffin sites, not including the stairs at the Landing, all with different outlooks and Puffins getting closer to you each time.

Three Puffins waiting by their burrows for their partners to come back with Sand Eels

Three Puffins waiting by their burrows for their partners to come back with Sand Eels

THE WICK

My favourite place on the island is The Wick.

The dramatic piece of coastline called The Wick. This is where the biggest colony of Puffins were.

The dramatic piece of coastline called The Wick. This is where the biggest colony of Puffins were.

Not only is it dramatic in its coastline, but it has the most Puffins along the shoreline and the closest.

The Puffins were right beside the path and would sometimes cross it

The Puffins were right beside the path and would sometimes cross it

Volunteers are posted here and around the island to answer any questions you may have. They will also show you where some of the animals are.

It was also here at this time that many were bringing the Sand Eels in for feeding.

A Puffin landing with a mouthful of Sand Eels. He then runs into its burrow

A Puffin landing with a mouthful of Sand Eels. He then runs into its burrow

It was amazing watching them circle around making sure no gulls were there to steal their lunch and then fly in and head straight for their burrow.

It was also here that I saw my first of about 7 Rabbits for the day.

OTHER ANIMALS

Rabbits are very relaxed near the Puffins but they don't get too close

Rabbits are very relaxed near the Puffins but they don't get too close

Heading around, that is the last of the Puffins until you get back to the ferry.

A lot of rugged coastline is on the western and north western side of the island.

The dramatic coastline of Pigstone Bay. There are Grey Seals here, supposedly two, but I couldn't see them

The dramatic coastline of Pigstone Bay. There are Grey Seals here, supposedly two, but I couldn't see them

As you walk further along there is another place to spot Grey Seals and that is Garland Stone, the northern point of the island.

Not a great photo as they were so far away but two grey seals on Garland Stone

Not a great photo as they were so far away but two grey seals on Garland Stone

THE OLD FARM

From this point, you turn inland. This area on land reminds me of the moors, with wildflowers of bluebells and red campion bringing colour.

Fields of colourful flowers bring you back to the Old Farm on the right.

At the Old Farm, you can use the toilets or browse the visitor centre. This is also where you can enjoy a self-catering accommodation. If you would like to stay overnight, you have to book early. Bookings open around October each year and book out fast so you need to be organised.

The path to the Old Farm from the Ferry Landing. This is the anti-clockwise way to start your journey around the island.

The path to the Old Farm from the Ferry Landing. This is the anti-clockwise way to start your journey around the island.

As I was on the 9.30am ferry going over, I was on the 3.00pm ferry going back. Once again, arrive 15 minutes before the ferry departs.

There is always more time to see more Puffins before you leave and remember the stairs you came up have to be negotiated back down.

Only the top part of the stairs down to the Ferry. They get steeper from here.

Only the top part of the stairs down to the Ferry. They get steeper from here.

This is a great day out visiting Skomer Island. It's quick to get to, inexpensive and the wildlife is amazing. All you have to do is get up early and make sure you're at the Lockley Lodge Visitor Centre early enough to secure your spot to see the Puffins.

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Written by travellingwithmynikon
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