Grassholm National Nature Reserve, Pembrokeshire, South Wales

Below: The Thousand Islands ticket office in St. David's
The Ticket Office

Designations: Grassholm SSSI, Pembrokeshire Marine SAC and Grassholm SPA

Grassholm is home to the third largest colony of breeding pairs of Gannets in the world. Although it is not possible to land on the island, if you would like to see these amazing birds then taking one of the summer boat trips around Grassholm is well worthwhile.

The island of Grassholm is owned and managed by the RSPB.

To Book Boat Trips:

RSPB endorse Thousand Islands Boat Trips, whose office is situated just off Cross Square in St. David's - see picture on the right. They run a range of trips to Ramsey and Grassholm islands, but for those wishing to see the huge colony of breeding Gannets on Grassholm it is best to take one of the trips that is accompanied by an RSPB Guide. Bookings for these trips (only nine are run most years) must be made in advance.

Below: Gannets at Grassholm - picture Mike Alexander CCW
Gannets on Grassholm, picture Mike Alexander CCW

Should you fail to get a place on one of these guided trips, Thousand Islands also run a range of other fascinating wildlife trips around the islands of Ramsey and Grassholm with opportunities to enjoy not only birds but also Atlantic Grey Seals, Whales and Dolphins.

The team in the Ticket Office are friendly, enthusiastic and happy to advise on the best options available for enjoying the spectacular wildlife of these lovely islands. You can telephone them on: +44(0)1437 721721/721686.
More information...

You can also contact the Countryside Council for Wales (Western Team) for assistance. Tel: 0845 11306229, Email CCW... Website...

Directions

Grid Ref: SM 598093 - Boat Departure Point

To get to St. David's from Haverfordwest take the A487, which passes the magnificent beach at Newgale. St. David's is well signed along this road.

Boats for the island of Grassholm depart from St Justinians Lifeboat Station, which is 4km (2.5 miles) west of St David's. After first booking your tickets, take the road that leads down to the Cathedral from St David's city centre (yes, it is a very small city) and be ready for an almost immediate sharp right hand-turn signed to St. Justinians. Follow this narrow lane out of the city for about 3km (2 miles). The road ends at the boat departure point.

There is a car park just a short walk from the jetty, and there are two parking laybys immediately above the jetty.

BOAT TRIPS TO THE ISLAND ARE WEATHER DEPENDENT, SO PLEASE CHECK THE FORECAST ON THE DAY YOU PLAN TO TRAVEL AND CONTACT THE BOAT COMPANY IF YOU HAVE ANY DOUBTS.

Below: The unforgettable sight of the Grassholm Gannets - picture Mike Alexander, NRW
Some of the Gannets on Grassholm, picture Mike Alexander CCW

Access

There is no landing point on Grassholm Island.

Facilities

There are none on the Island of Grassholm but there are shops, pubs, caf├ęs and toilets in St. David's, which is 4km (2.5 miles) from the boat departure point at St Junstinians.

Description of Site

Although Common Guillemots (Uria aalge) and Razorbills (Alca torda) nest on all the islands off the Pembrokeshire Coast, it is the colony of breeding Gannets (Morus bassanus) for which Grassholm, a mere 8 miles from the coast, is most famous.

Gannets have been nesting on the island since at least 1860. At that time there were thought to be around 20 pairs, but now the number has exploded to over 39,000 pairs (2009 population count) and their occupation of the island, which began at the northern end, is now moving inexorably towards the southern part as more and more birds arrive at Grassholm each year.