Martin's Haven Beach
Martin’s Haven, near Marloes, is a north-facing rocky cove which everyone knows who has taken the boat to the seabird sanctuary island of Skomer.
For this is the embarkation point where passengers climb the rough path along the cliffside to the landing stage for their magical adventure on an island aglow with floral colour and loud with the calls of thousands of seabirds.
The best time to visit Skomer is in Springtime when the entire island is carpeted in a breathtaking display of bluebells and red campion as far as the eye can see. The richness of the colour is intensified by the lateral view and the changes of ground level.
It is a good idea either to get to Martin’s Haven early enough to view some of the mainland’s interesting features, or to linger after returning from Skomer to stroll over to the western tip of the Deer Park or round the headland to the east for a couple of hundred yards. The rewards are the sight of the seals in Mouse’s Haven and Jeffrey’s Haven near Wooltack Point, and in the other direction an interesting geological formation on the cliffs, where complex faulting has cut four miniature rift valleys separated by narrow square headlands or ‘horsts.’ Here, the Skomer Volcanic Series of Silurian rocks has within it some Marloesite and Skomerite rock found nowhere else in the world.
At Martin’s Haven the South and West Wales Naturalists’ Trust, which leases Skomer from Nature Conservancy, has an information centre where some of the most interesting features to be found at Skomer are highlighted and the visitor can receive a glimpse of the wonders of the island’s Submarine Nature Reserve with its colourful and rare ecology.
The two mile boat trip round the northern end of Jack Sound, past Midland Island and The Neck into North Haven, is in itself an enchanting experience and the boat is soon cruising past rafts of puffin, guillemot and razorbill, with more of these birds and others flying overhead. There is also a good chance of spotting a porpoise, seals and the occasional basking shark en route.
The climb from the boat up several flights of concrete steps to the clifftop path can be a little daunting for the less able, but taken slowly, they are manageable by most fit people. The resident Warden meets the boat parties at the top for a short health and safety and navigation briefing, in which restricted and no-go areas are pointed out. A landing fee is collected, usually at the mainland information centre. The puffins, kittiwakes and auks are to be seen at the Wick, where remarkable close-ups are possible of the puffins journeys to and from their nesting burrows, their bills absolutey brimming with silver sand eels. It is a photographer’s paradise and a source of great wonder to the children. The walk round the island unfolds many other sights and sounds to treasure including basking seals on the Garland Stone.