Sumary of UK staycation: Visiting the Skomer Island puffins on a hiking tour of the Pembrokeshire coast:
- A whirr of wings as a bird approaches the landing ground on a wide, green plateau of Skomer Island, guarded by majestic cliffs and the wild Atlantic.Close-up, the powerful flier turns into an endearingly plump and ungainly figure, splaying out its big, webbed, orange feet and winding its wings back to slow and stall.
- Puffins arrive in vast numbers to nest on Skomer Island, off the coast of Pembrokeshire, every May The Atlantic puffin is probably the most appealing of British birds.
- I love that.I’ve driven out west to Pembrokeshire, the Welsh region with probably the gentlest appeal — although really they’re all special, from the thinly peopled hill country of Powys, to the dark mountains of Snowdonia, or Eryri, as locals call it.Just as it’s only polite to learn a little French when going to France, one should learn a bit of Welsh if going to Wales.
- Winging it: Walking the coast path near St David’s where the waters are crystal clear (stock image)It’s the coastal path I’m here for — and the puffins, which arrive in vast numbers to nest on Skomer and nearby Skokholm Island every May.
- The little boat rocks and rolls across the big grey swell, and you think again how lucky we are to live on such a wild sea-cloaked island, with more than 4,000 islands of at least half an acre.Even before we come into Skomer’s North Haven, the seas and cliffs are clamorous with shearwaters and guillemots.
- Mid-week a huge Atlantic storm sweeps in, and I spend a morning in pouring rain on Fishguard’s Marine Parade, and then the afternoon back at my B&B, reading old Welsh folk tales.The next day, in rustling waterproofs, I set out for Strumble Head.