BAY Travel

 with LIZ BARRY

Caldey calling

DURING A CAMPING HOLIDAY IN PEMBROKESHIRE,

LIZ TOOK THE OPPORTUNITY OF A DAY TRIP FROM TENBY TO CALDEY ISLAND

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It was a bright summer morning when I made the short journey from the campsite just outside Tenby to the harbour to buy my boat ticket to Caldey Island. A queue of people  waited for the first boat of the day to make the 20 minute journey across Carmarthen Bay to one of Britain’s holy islands. Most of the passengers were day trippers like me but there were also staff from the island’s shops and chocolate factory on their daily commute.

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On arriving at Caldey, I made my way from the

slipway towards the village green and its lily pond. The terracotta tiled roof and white washed walls of Caldey Abbey tower over the village shops, tea room and pretty stone cottages.

Archaeological evidence indicates that Caldey Island has been inhabited since the Stone Age, while a Celtic monastery was established in the 6th Century. Today it is home to monks of the Cistercian Order.

The Island’s Post Office doubles up as a museum and while learning The history of the area you can purchase a post card and send it bearing a special Caldey Island postage stamp.

I followed the wooden sign posts and walked further out of the village until I was alone and could appreciate the peace and tranquillity the island offers.

As I approached the lighthouse I had to cover my eyes to avoid being dazzled by the sunlight bouncing off the white walls. It is an imposing structure which stands looking out to sea offering wonderful panoramic views across to the vibrant coloured houses of Tenby, the Pembrokeshire Coast, Lundy, the Preseli Hills and the Gower Peninsula.

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I stopped off at the Chocolate Factory, to watch the manufacturing process and sample the famous Abbots Kitchen Chocolate bars and popped into the village shop which sells locally made shortbread. In the island perfumery the monks and lay workers make and bottle Caldey Island Toiletries. The perfume was originally inspired by the wild flowers growing on the Island. In the 1950s bunches of Caldey lavender were sold to day visitors and once again it is now grown in the monastery garden, dried and sold in bunches and bags in the perfume shop.

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The cool stone of the Abbey Church was a respite to the warm afternoon outside. At the entrance hand-made driftwood crosses were for sale – a fusion of spirituality and the coastal connection. Visitors are welcome to attend one of the short, chanted services which form the daily prayer life of the Cistercian monks.

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FACT FILE

Caldey Island information www.caldey-island.co.uk

Daily information on boat sailings 01834 844453

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