…welcome to Skokholm!
If you’re looking for a relaxing getaway with a difference then look no further…
Lying in the Celtic Sea two miles off the south west Pembrokeshire coast, Skokholm has its own charm and sense of remoteness with tall, sandstone cliffs and a wild landscape.
The island is approximately half a mile across at its widest point and a mile in length which makes it perfect for exploring. There are never more than 26 people on the island, that’s 10 acres of space for every visitor!
In spring and summer it is colonised by tens of thousands of nesting seabirds returning to their island home. By day there is frenetic activity among the Puffins, Razorbills, Guillemots and gulls and by night there is a more vocal but equally hectic commotion from the Manx Shearwaters and Storm Petrels.
There are often some fascinating migrants to look out for that are passing through.
Remember to pack your binoculars
Wild flowers create a backcloth with the white haze of Sea Campion seen even from off shore in May, while Bluebells, Red Campion and many other species create their own impact. A remarkable range of lichens reflect the island’s unpolluted atmosphere.
Porpoises and dolphins frequent the coast to reward the vigilant observer, while Grey Seals are hard to miss, often hauled out on the rocks in South Haven or Crab Bay.
Skokholm has been inhabited intermittently for hundreds of years but was brought to public notice by Ronald Lockley who leased it from 1927 to 1941. He established the first bird observatory in the UK in 1933 and wrote several books about his experiences on the island.
Visitors to Skokholm can escape the stresses of mainland life; find beauty, and a sense of solitude and tranquillity. Seclusion is easily achieved. It really is the perfect retreat for birdwatchers, artists, walkers, photographers and anyone seeking a relaxing getaway.
Skokholm really is an incredible place to visit, truly a Dream Island
Check out our Skokholm island blog written by Richard and Giselle (our island wardens). This gives a great insight into island life and wildlife encounters on Skokholm.
More detailed information about Skokholm Island is available. You can also download the reports about Skokholm’s sea bird research.
By becoming a member of the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales you will be supporting our vital conservation work on the island and you will be helping us with our work on our many other sites across south and west Wales. Please join us now and get priority bookings on overnight stays and free landing on Skomer.
The Friends of the Islands have been instrumental in the restoration work on the island over the last few years, both in terms of raising funds and the actual restoration work on the buildings.
The wildlife of Skomer and Skokholm is unique and incredibly special, but also very vulnerable. For this reason we ask all visitors to adhere to our biosecurity rules. Small steps taken by you, during your visit, will help us all to protect Skomer and Skokholm for the future.
Skomer and Skokholm Biosecurity
The islands of Skomer and Skokholm are home to breeding populations of seabirds of both national and international importance. There are no significant ground predators (such as large mammalian predators or snakes) on the islands.
Their continued absence is key to the future conservation of our seabirds and other ground-nesting birds.
The introduction of new species such as rats, or even other, smaller rodents, poses the greatest current, and acute, risk to our islands. Islands such as neighbouring Ramsey, where rats arrived via shipwrecks, are testament to the damage that can be caused; significant increases in breeding seabird species are only being recorded there after costly and time-consuming rat eradication in relatively recent history.
It is also important to note that whilst mammal introductions present a significant threat, other introductions such as of new plant species also have the potential to massively impact the island’s ecology (potentially including the seabird populations).
Whilst the accidental introduction of rats or mice may feel unlikely, the consequences could be devastating. For this reason it is essential that we maintain strict biosecurity and quarantine for all people and luggage travelling to Skomer and Skokholm.
Adopting some quick and easy safeguards could make all the difference. These apply to both day visitors and overnight visitors to both islands.
(1) Pack all luggage yourselves
(2) Pack all luggage in a rodent-free environment (e.g. avoid garages, sheds)
(3) If packing before the day of your arrival, store all packed luggage sealed and in a rodent-free environment. On the day of travel, inspect luggage to ensure no rodent has accessed the containers.
(4) Do not bring anything that might present a threat onto the island. This includes plants with root balls / compost (including potted herbs), seeds etc.
(5) All luggage must be closed. Open bags and unsealed luggage will not be permitted to land on the islands.
(6) Avoid leaving your luggage unattended in Martins Haven as this is a high risk area where rats are regularly recorded.
Thank you for your help keeping Skomer and Skokholm special.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What would actually happen if a rat or mouse got on the island?
The seabirds on Skomer and Skokholm thrive because there are no ground predators- no foxes, weasels, hedgehogs, rats, snakes or similar. As close as neighbouring Ramsey Island, rats arrived historically via shipwrecks, and significant increases in seabird species have only been recorded after incredibly costly and time-consuming rat eradication procedures have been undertaken.
Rats have preyed on 75 species of seabird around the world. One academic paper describes rats as being amongst some of “the largest contributors to seabird extinction and endangerment worldwide”. The arrival of one pregnant female could be all it takes to put Skomer or Skokholm at that level of risk.
2. Why have you made these changes? We’ve been coming for years but this is new.
With increasing numbers of people coming to the Pembrokeshire islands, the risk of rats and mice arriving has increased significantly. There is also greater awareness of how severe the impacts can be.
By taking this action, we are bringing our safeguards in line with similar island nature reserves around the world. We know you visit Skomer because it is special, and we all want to keep it that way.
3. I know this bag is safe- why are you making me check or re-pack it?
Our quarantine policy will only work if we adhere to it absolutely. We have made the decision to prevent any open bags and boxes being landed on the island.
Small mice for example can hide remarkably well and whilst your home might be rodent free, things like rucksacks, sleeping bags etc. may be stored in garages, attics or sheds that are less rodent-proof.
Therefore we are asking the contents of all open bags- however empty or visible- to be manually re-packed into sealed containers which we will be able to loan you for your journey.
4. What about big deliveries to the island?
We have developed a wider quarantine plan which looks at all movements of people and materials to the island and addresses each according to the risk it presents. The movement of all materials will be subject to quarantine.
More information on our wider procedures is available on request.
For further information or specific queries, contact Lizzie Wilberforce (Conservation Manager) on firstname.lastname@example.org
It is now possible to buy the Dream Island DVD, which will help with the work on the island.