Puffin on ynys enlli

Ynys Enlli/Bardsey Island – a magical visit for Jacha and Kate

Discovering a Welsh wildlife gem

Jacha and his assistant Kate spent a week in July 2021 enjoying everything Ynys Enlli had to offer. And what a fabulous week it was.

All about Ynys Enlli.

Ynys Enlli or Bardsey Island to give it it’s English name is located almost two miles off the Llyn Peninsula. The island is known as the island of 20,000 Saints and in medieval times was an important centre of pilgrimage. It is still an attraction for pilgrims today and marks the end point of the North Wales Pilgrim Way. A bird observatory was established on the island in 1953 and in 1986 it was declared a national nature reserve. Enlli is a nesting place for Manz shearwaters and choughs, with rare plants and habitats undisturbed by modern farming.

Enlli’s lighthouse

Island Wardens.

Ynys Enlli has a population of 11, including wardens Mari Huws and Emyr Owen. At the time of Jacha and Kate’s visit, Mari and Emyr are two years into a three year position as island wardens. The pair live exclusively on Enlli all year round. Mari is also a filmmaker who has documented the effect of the Palm Oil industry in Indonesia, plastic pollution in the Arctic and the clash between Welsh culture and conservation when a rewilding project emerged in rural Wales. Mari is an advocate for the beauty, fragility and the importance of the natural world. Visit Mari’s website to view her films and read about her work.

Jacha has previously worked with Mari when she was planning her trip to Indonesia, in fact the Alpine Coffee Shop partly sponsored her trip there so she could see first hand the impact of the industry.

Mari had this to say about life on Ynys Enlli:

“Living on a small island, that’s ‘off grid’ and not always accessible has bought us face to face with the cost of living-not the financial one, but the footprints we leave and the resources we take. Living with the natural world has also given us time to observe the harmony that exists between species and seasons- and the fact that most life on earth only takes what it needs to survive, no more no less.
The disconnect between human life and all other forms of life is wider today than it’s ever been in history- the legacy of our generation won’t be the leaps made in science or technology, because all that will be left is plastic and extinction. Right now, 4 billion people live in urban environments. Thats over half of the worlds population. I believe that cities, especially in the West, are well oiled machines that make people blind to their own consumerism and pollution. Rubbish is collected weekly from your front door, water pumped with chlorine flows seemingly infinitely from the taps, and you could flush anything down the toilet and never have to worry about it again. Life in a city is so far removed from the environmental cost of the lifestyle, It’s very hard to persuade people to change their ways or even see that they are apart of the problem.”

Jacha with Enlli’s wardens – Mari and Emyr.

Spotting the wildlife.

There has been 310 species of birds recorded on the island, as Bardsey sits on a key migratory route for Europe’s birds. While Jacha and Kate were there they were able to see Puffins, Choughs, Razorbills, Guillemots and grey Seals. And in the evenings they listened as the skies filled with the sound of the Manx shearwaters.

While walking along the coastal paths at the lower part of the island Jacha and Kate spotted numerous seals. They proved to be very curious creatures and would regularly follow them from bay to bay, popping up occasionally to check if they were still there! At low tide the seals would beach themselves on the rocks and could often be heard wailing and moaning to each other, which proved quite unnerving on a misty afternoon when they could be heard but not seen in the mist.

Jacha and Kate were keen to see Puffins and they weren’t disappointed. They spotted their first ones while on the boat taking them to Enlli and again while walking around the island. And they were both thrilled to be able to see a group of Choughs most afternoons on the beach area.

A Razorbill drying it’s wings
A group of grey Seals beached at low tide

Peace and tranquility.

The Bardsey Island Trust lets out nine of the 12 properties on the island. Jacha and Kate stayed in “Nant”, a three bedroom house within a stones throw of the chapel. None of the houses have electricity or bathrooms but instead there are solar lights and compost toilets in the garden. Staying on Enlli is a real chance to get back to basics and enjoy the peace. Jacha and Kate loved being able to switch off from the world and embrace the tranquility of nature.

Ynys Enlli really is a special place to visit – go if you can!

Just one of the beautiful sunsets on Enlli
Posted: August 6, 2021 by Kate Vincent

Jacha’s art can be seen here: