Saturday 4 September 2010

Bardsey Island / Ynys Enlli

Bardsey Island is situated at the end of the Lleyn Peninsula and was a pilgrimage site until oo, 1537, when the monastery was dissolved. First settled in 516AD by Irish monks, it is known as the Island of 20 000 Saints. Three Pilgrimages to Bardsey were said to equal one to Rome.

Ever since my Welsh/Anglican Grandmother muttered darkly about, 'Lot of Catholics down the Lleyn,' only for my generally silent Welsh-speaking and lapsed-Chapel-Grandfather (Taidy) to reply that the whole of Wales was once Catholic, I've always been a bit interested in the Lleyn.

Each town mysteriously boasts a Catholic Church. Given the sparse population, that's a feat in itself. Hey I saw fewer than a dozen cars between Beddgelert and Llangollen go my way on Friday. If only the same could have been said for the M25.

Anyway, as the weather was very fine indeed we decided to do the trip. The crossing is iffy, so you have to phone the day before to check that the boat is going. I could write a Maeve Binchy novel about the other people on the boat, suffice to say they were all very pleasant. The views from the boat are great as you can see the Lleyn and look back to Harlech and Snowdonia etc.

Once we arrived on Bardsey we were told the departure time and given a map, which was very Enid Blyton, like don't go on the east side of the mountain etc, (in case you slip off into the deep.) Virtually nothing remains of anything that looks like it might have been a monastery. It's a bit like Lindisfarne. You look at a bit of wall and then you look round at the newer buildings and wonder, 'Where did they get the stone from?' It must have taken a lot of effort to dissolve the monastery, given the tricky crossing, but then as it was a pilgrimage site I suppose they must have been keen to supress it.

There are some 19thC houses, a farm and some cottages where you can stay. The farm does tea and coffee, which we had and were entertained by the farm dogs. I hate dogs, but old farm dogs are funny and tried to play with us. We also saw seals which we'd never seen in the wild before which was really exciting. As for the rest it was very quiet indeed. Very very quiet. Almost as quiet as Trawsfynydd the previous afternoon, but the silence was broken by a boy on a bike. You could hear the chain clicking - hooligan!

Of course Bardsey on a beautifully sunny day is stunning, with beatiful views of the sea, the mainland, rocks, cliffs, seals. Quite what it's like when the rain is lashing down and you are cut off, is an entirely different matter.

No comments: