Wednesday 13 April 2016
Day trip to Caldey Island
Meadow Farm Campsite
I wasn’t too cold last night but the tent was soaked with condensation when I woke up early. I snuggled down and went back to sleep, waking 2nd time around to some sunshine.
I wasn’t sure whether I was going to move on today or not – I was flexible – so I left my tent up to dry, packed light, and headed down to the harbour. After a quick coffee (and blog) stop on the way I arrived in time for the first boat to Caldey Island. It was packed with elderly people on a coach holiday and it took ages to get them all on board.
The sun was shining and the sky mostly blue. I had a good opportunity to see where I walked yesterday and admire the views I had been missing. Tenby is really well situated with golden beaches and lovely views; no wonder it is such a popular holiday destination.
Caldey Island had a lovely, tranquil feel to it, which I think was down to the lack of children. Aside from the monks there is a permanent community of about 20 adult residents, and then there is an almost daily invasion of tourists.
The first monastery on Caldey Island was founded in the 6th Century by monks from Illtud’s monastery in Llantwit Major, Glamorgan. From the 12th Century until The dissolution of the monasteries in 1536, the Island was home to a Benedictine Priory, an off-shoot of St Dogmaels Abbey in Cardigan. Monks did not return to Caldey until the start of the 20th Century. In 1928 the Abbey was handed over to the Cistercian Order of monks and they still live there and contribute to island life. I had a quick chat with one of the brothers in the Post office/museum, where I bought a bar of chocolate made by the monks for my breakfast (they also make perfume but I didn’t try any).
The tiny village sits in a sheltered, wooded valley and is dominated by the huge Abbey. It is like a pretend village catering for tourists with a post office, museum, gift shop, tea room and perfume shop. I don’t think much has changed for a century.
I walked around the Island, enjoying the views. I saw plenty of gulls, skylarks and a raft of razorbills. Chapel Point Lighthouse is on the highest point of Caldey and has great views all the way from Worm’s Head, the Gower, to St Govan’s Head.
I popped into the ancient ruin of St Illtud’s Church to see The Caldey Stone and also into St David’s parish church to admire the stained glass windows.
On my way back to the boat I nipped up the hill to the Calvey that can be seen from Tenby.
Arriving back in Tenby after 2 pm I went for a late lunch and languished in a cafe reading a newspaper. I decided it wasn’t worth moving on today so I chilled out instead. I walked back up to my favourite spot on Castle Hill and sat listening to the waves and the gulls. Eventually I headed back to the campsite for a shower and back into town for some dinner. Someone had been hard at work creating a design in the sand.