Bardsey Island

Bardsey Island

Bardsey Island (Welsh:Ynys Enlli)

Bardsey Island, the legendary ‘Island of 20,000 saints’, lies 1.9 miles off the Llyn Peninsula. The Welsh name means ‘The Island in the Currents’, although its English name refers to the ‘Island of the Bards’, or possibly the island of the Viking chieftain, Barda.

Bardsey is 0.6 miles wide, 1.0 mile long and 440 acres or 0.69 square miles in area. It is the fourth largest offshore island in Wales.

The island has been an important religious site since Saint Cadfan built a monastery in 516. In medieval times it was a major centre of pilgrimage and, by 1212, belonged to the Augustinian Canons Regular. The monastery was dissolved and its buildings demolished by Henry VIII in 1537, but the island remains an attraction for pilgrims to this day

Bardsey Island is now as famous for its wildlife and rugged scenery. A bird observatory was established in 1953, largely due to the island’s position on important migration routes. It is of European importance, cited as a nesting place for Manx shearwaters and choughs, its rare plants and habitats undisturbed by modern farming practices. It is one of the best places in Gwynedd to see grey seals, and the waters around the island attract dolphins and porpoises.

The spirituality and sacredness of the island, its relative remoteness, and its legendary claim to be the burial site of King Arthur, have given it a special place in the cultural life of Wales, attracting artists, writers and musicians to its shores. It has inspired award winning literature, and attracted internationally renowned singers.

A boat trip leaves daily from March to November (weather permitting) from a small cove near Aberdaron, Porth Meudwy, taking day visitors to the island, allowing around four hours ashore to explore this very special place. The half-hour boat trip is itself worthwhile for the opportunity to spot seabirds, seals and porpoises, and to view the spectacular coastline from the sea. To find out more visit bardsey boat trips.