Bardsey Island (Ynys Enlli)

Found off the coast of the Llyn Peninsula in North West Wales, Bardsey (Enlli) is a very special place indeed.

In a way it’s hard to describe Bardsey in words as it is not a place that can be described ’empirically’. It’s how the island makes you feel that makes it special.

With the mainland hidden behind the ‘mountain’ and with very little phone signal you are cut off from the rest of the world.

I suppose in this modern world many people might despair at this, (is not that then perhaps the composting toilets!) but for everyone else it leaves you filled with a sense of tranquility and calmness.

That’s not to say however that there isn’t any excitement to be had.

A Map of Bardsey showing the locations of the major buildings on the island.
A Map of Bardsey showing the locations of the major buildings on the island. Credit: http://www.stmarysblog.co.uk/the-feast-of-st-david/

The only way to get onto the island is by boat which normally runs twice a day. The island is often visited by day trippers but people can stay on the island for a week at a time but staying in one of the many house listed in the photo above or in Cristin, the bird observatory.

The boat drops you off at Cafn Enlli by the Boathouse and, if you’re staying the week, a tractor and trailer is deployed to carry your belongings to your accomodation.

Once on the island you are free to roam it at your leisure, down to the lighthouse, up the mountain or along the lowlands.

The size of the island suggests that you could easily walk it in a day but it is much better appreciated if you take your time and really absorb the place.

The island itself has a great history, today it is best known for its nature, specifically birds, due to the presence of the bird observatory on the island which has existed since 1953. However historically it is known for it’s religious past.

Before the reformation the island had a monastory and legend says that 20,000 saints are buried on the island. This made it a place of pilgrimage for Christians with three pilgimages to Bardsey being equivalent to one to Rome.

Today only a part of the ruined abbey is left standing, however the island is still visited for spiritual reasons every year.

The ruin of the Abbey Credit: http://www.coflein.gov.uk/en/site/93544/images/ST+MARY%27S+ABBEY,+BARDSEY+ISLAND/
The ruins of the Abbey
Credit: http://www.coflein.gov.uk/en/site/93544/images/ST+MARY%27S+ABBEY,+BARDSEY+ISLAND/

Gardeners and horticulturists may also be familiar with the island for its famous Bardsey apple which was dubbed the ‘rarest apple in the world’ when it was discovered in 1998 from a single old and gnarled tree which once would have been part of a much large monastic orchid.

Bardsey has very few trees due to salt and high exposure, so this was quite a remarkable find. It’s survival is most likely down to it growing in a sheltered area in a recess in a wall at Plas Bach.

Since 2003 the Bardsey apple has been cultivated using cuttings from the original tree. The intial demand was so great they sold old quickly in its first year.

The apple has been described as being ‘juicy and refreshing’ with a ‘lemon scented’ taste.

Anyone interested in this fruit can found out more here: http://www.bardseyapple.co.uk/

Interested in visiting for a day or a full week? Click here for more information.

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