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Skomer - Simpson's Cross

Bishops, Saints and Tipis

semi-overcast 13 °C
View Boulogne 2013 & Picturesque Pembrokeshire and Skomer Island 2013 on Grete Howard's travel map.

We awoke at 05:00 wondering if we'd get off the island today or not. By 08:00 we were given the go-ahead for departure at 09:00, the last boat trip to the island until Saturday. The guests who were booked until Thursday had to leave a day early and those due to arrive on the island on Thursday or Friday would miss out completely. We certainly should count ourselves lucky we made it across at all!

It was with a heavy heart, many happy memories, three huge blisters and way too many photos of puffins that we made our way to the landing stage. If I thought the other guests on our outward boat were carrying a lot of luggage, it was nothing compared with the photography group who were already on the island when we arrived. Creating a human chain, we passed all the heavy bags, tripods, camera equipment, food containers and rubbish bags (EVERYTHING has to come off the island with you!) down the steps and into the boat (after having done the same in reverse with the luggage belonging to the arriving passengers), before boarding ourselves. Fortunately the force six wind was in a due south direction, keeping the water in the bay nice and calm. Swells of up to 4.5 metres have been known during a northerly wind.


During the 15 minute journey the captain was feeding the gulls bread through the window in his cab, making them hang around on the thermals overhead. The journey was totally unadventurous other than the sea birds, as was the landing at Martinshaven on the mainland.


I have heard of a pub with no beer, but never a post office with no stamps! Calling at Marloes Post Office and general stores, I was told he only had six first class stamps left, that was all. At Tesco in Haverfordwest we took a break for a coffee and to update the blog using their free wifi, and bizarrely enough bumped into one of the girls from Skomer! It's a small world! We stocked up on food for tonight's meal and made our way towards the campsite. We knew approximately where it was and headed off in the right direction. Having not seen any signs, it's a bit worrying when you stop and ask the one person who should know where EVERYTHING is in the area is – the postman – and he's never heard of the place. We thought we'd drive back to the village and phone the proprietor when we spotted the sign: TO THE TIPIS. Yay! We've arrived! The tipis are awesome! With only three of them in a huge field, we're not exactly crowded, and anyway, Claire (the delightful owner of Pembrokeshire Tipis ) informed us that we have the place to ourselves for the first two nights.


Pembrokeshire Tipis
Tipis (also spelled tepee and teepee) were traditionally made of animal skins and wooden poles and used by nomadic tribes of the Great Plains. These days, with glamping becoming a more and more popular form of holidaying, tipis (and yurts for at matter, but after our traumatic experiences in Kyrgyzstan it will be a while before we voluntarily stay in another yurt) have sprung up all over the UK. Being constantly on the lookout for new and exciting experiences, we jumped at the chance of staying in these glorified tents for a few nights. We got a really good deal by staying outside of the season, getting a free night because of booking three, and a discount for just two people staying (the tipi sleeps six), so here we are!

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After dumping a lot of the stuff from the car in the tipi ,we set off to explore St David's. Although still gusty, the sun had come out by now, and making our way across the beautiful old bridge to the Bishop's Palace, the wind takes my hat and deposits it in the river! Talk about lucky – it landed on some rocks and David was able to retrieve it quite easily, in fact it didn't even get wet!


St David's Bishop's Palace
Known as the Welsh Marches, the border area between England and Wales was hotly disputed in the Middle Ages. After the Norman Conquest, William the Conqueror set out to subdue the Welsh, appointing several trusted nobles – known as Marcher Lords – to guard this frontier society. The lordships in this area had special privileges which separated them from the usual English lordships in that they ruled their lands by their own law and could build castles, a jealously guarded Royal privilege in England.

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In the 13th century there were few landowners in Wales wealthier than the Bishop's of St David's who were also Marcher Lords in their own right. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that their palace buildings offered such regaling splendour, with the entire cathedral close surrounded by a precinct wall with four gates, one of which still remains standing. An impressive palace, we were pleased to discovered CADW have an arrangement with English Heritage, allowing us free entry into all their properties. Good call.


St David's Cathedral
Next door is the 12th century St David's Cathedral built on the site of the monastery founded by St David himself in the 6th century. The cathedral is quite magnificent and having the organ practice helped add just the right atmosphere.


Back at camp, we enjoyed a couple of drinks and some traditional camp food of sausages and beans, before retiring to our very comfortable bed for the night.


Posted by Grete Howard 00:08 Archived in Wales

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You find the coolest places.

by kay ayoub

LOVE the ceiling of the cathedral!

by Helen

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