ON THE FIRST TWO NIGHTS I was gifted clear skies and no moon. The Milky Way arced from the north of the island, disappearing into the lighthouse on the southern end. Looking towards the core of the galaxy along its long coiling arm, millions of stars shimmered in the crystal skies. Satellites rotated their lonely journeys and planes commuted across the northern hemisphere. Clouds drifted in and out. Shooting stars left burning trails as I silently made wishes.
It was clear to see our relationship with space as a rock in the galaxy, rather than the centre of everything. The island had reminded me we are here by chance not by right.
I’d arrived on the Tuesday for a five-day stay on the remote Bardsey Island or Ynys Enlli: a remote rock two miles off north-west Wales’ Lleyn Peninsula with no cars, paved roads, electricity grid or indoor toilets. Here the elements scrape against the bare land, but the roaring winds and passing squalls allow a small pocket of people to exist on the rock like beautiful but inconspicuous lichens.
The island is tiny: one and a half miles long and half a mile wide. There’s a rich timeline of life from Iron Age settlements through to the modern-day: artefacts and evidence have been found that show it has been populated for over four thousand years. In recent centuries it became an important centre for Christian pilgrimages, hence legends of 20,000 saints buried on Bardsey.
The first boat arrives in the morning if the sea and tides permit, a lifeline that is eagerly welcomed. Sometimes it is full of awestruck day-trippers, a few for the first time but many returning to revisit where they left a bit of their hearts last time. The boat is greeted by a gaggle of children, happy residents, wardens and not-so-happy people returning to the mainland. This was my second trip. Having been captivated with the landscape last time, I was back for a few days photographing, walking and trying to capture the rich essence of the island.
After the first night, I started to settle into island life. Gareth the fisherman and-farmer brought me a small lobster and a tub of butter after I’d asked in passing if anyone had any spare last night. A small shop sells essentials, such as home-grown vegetables and wine, but all other food has to be brought in.
Most of the houses were built in the 1870s. They are heated by wood burners, light is provided by solar lamps, and the kitchens are mostly made of cold, beautiful slate. There is the modern addition of a gas cooker and a fridge. All water has to be boiled and filtered. In Nant (my house), the bathroom is a bowl and a hot kettle in a small room upstairs. The toilet is a Ty Bach (small house) outside, a compost-and-sawdust affair that requires nerves of steel and an open mind.
The island is crisscrossed with pathways that allow you to explore everywhere. The highest point is Mynydd Enlli at 167 metres (547 feet). From here the view is incredible: south over the square iconic red and white lighthouse, east along the Lleyn Peninsula towards Snowdonia, north towards South Stack lighthouse on Anglesey, and west over the wide-open seas towards Ireland. The coastal path leads you beautifully around the island. There are coves and beaches to be explored. I divided the island into four: the mountain and east slipway, the north coves, the rugged sea-weathered west coast, and the south point, with its magnificent lighthouse. One of the benefits of being on an island there is always a sheltered side.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
More Ways than one
Roger Smith calls for more clarity around the increasing proliferation of named trails
THE LONG PATHWAY
Kat Young and Liv Bolton both walked New Zealand’s South Island from north to south via the country-spanning Te Araroa Trail. Here they each describe a section of this spectacular and life-changing route
Last summer, self-confessed ‘average adventurer’ James Forrest completed all 282 of Scotland’s Munros in an intensive six-month push. Here he describes the most knee-trembling part of the journey – Skye’s famous Inaccessible Pinnacle
A HAPPY RETURN
For more than 30 years, Chris Townsend dreamed about doing a long walk through the high reaches of the Colorado Was it everything he hoped for?
Practice Makes Perfect
Preparation is key if you want to enjoy, and not simply endure, the TGO Challenge. Organisers Ali Ogden and Sue Oxley look at how to be ready for the demands of a long-distance walk
Happy When It Rains
With an unpredictable winter approaching, here are TGO’s tips for enduring – even enjoying? – our ever-changing climate...
Rising rivers, quaking bogs, ferocious winds, possible thunderstorms and annoying theme tunes – will Paul Beasley be able to take all this in his stride and successfully cross Dartmoor?
Donegal’s highest mountain is a sight to behold – unless, as Jim Perrin discovered, the weather has other ideas…
Commuting: Lochaber Style
For Many Of Us, The Daily Commute Can Be A Chore. But, For Neil Adams, Living And Working In One Of Scotland’s Finest Mountain Landscapes Gave Him The Opportunity To Turn It Into An Adventure...
The Depths Of Time
James Roddie goes under the surface of Assynt to discover a whole new dimension to an extraordinary, ancient landscape.
We were only 48 hours into our family’s three-week road trip when the car broke down. White smoke billowed from the engine. The dashboard warning lights went on.
SLAIN SEX THERAPIST AMIE FEARED OTHER STALKERS!
DREW CAREY’S EX-FIANCÉE GOT RESTRAINING ORDERS
GRIEVING DREW SHUTS DOWN SHOW AFTER EX'S KILLING
SEX THERAPIST AMIE HAD RESTRAINING ORDERS AGAINST SUSPECT
Where's the Party?: Allison P. Davis
Adventures in Liquid Shopping Did you know you can get plastered at Nordstrom?
7 ways top riders deal with nerves
Even the world’s elite riders aren’t immune to competition nerves. Martha Terry discovers how they channel their jitters into a winning performance
BOTTOMS UP! INSWORTH IS AIMING HIGH
GARETH Ainsworth backed his Wycombe side to avoid relegation, despite seeing them slip to the bottom of the table.
‘CHAMPIONSHIP? JUST STAYING IN BUSINESS IS AN ACHIEVEMENT!'
FLP FOCUS ON ACCRINGTON STANLEY'S IMPRESSIVE START
A top-class pack of hounds
The hard-working Bicester with Whaddon Chase team enjoy great support, and are proof of how a hunt can operate successfully in an increasingly busy country
Korn Ferry's Gareth McIlroy on jobs, skills, and changing workplace dynamics
For years organizations have been talking about digital transformation, but the pandemic has grabbed the concept and made it an absolute imperative for survival, says Gareth Mcilroy, Managing Director, Korn Ferry, Singapore, in an interaction with People Matters
KERALA Home Splendid
Traditional architecture tempered by the learning, experience and evolving demands of time, have much to offer, both in terms of aesthetics and functionality. Tapping into this rich well of incredible beauty and knowledge, these FIVE Kerala Homes by visionary architects respectfully bring together the old and the new, with stylized flair.