The John Muir Award- Our Visit to Caldey Island | Evans-Crittens | Family Lifestyle Travel & Recipe Blog, Pembrokeshire, Wales, UK. expr:class='"loading" + data:blog.mobileClass'>

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

The John Muir Award- Our Visit to Caldey Island

This week we were lucky to visit Caldey Island as part of our experience for the John Muir Award.  Here's what we got up to on our day trip:

We travelled from school to Tenby by bus.  On the way we took part in a "journey challenge" looking out for roundabouts, bridges and places of interest from Hakin to Tenby.

It was a beautiful day, the sea was so clear.  Tenby has a number of Blue Flag Beaches (Castle Beach, North Tenby and South Tenby).  The Blue Flag is an internationally recognised ecolabel, awarded to beaches and marinas for cleanliness, safety and high quality amenities.

We walked to the Harbour to purchase our tickets at the Caldey Island Kiosk.  We were relieved to see that the boats were running.  We then headed down to Castle Beach to wait for our boat.

While waiting for the boat we discovered that our leader, Ginny, used to live on St Catherine's Island while it was still a zoo.  This was before  Ginny's parents opened Silent World in a former 19th century cemetery chapel at Slippery Back in Narberth Road.  This was one of Danny's favourite places to visit when he was little.  Silent World is now Silent World To You (SW2U) and they offer specialists in Pembrokeshire Marine life, Exotic Reptiles, Amphibians and Mini Beasts as an outreach programme.

Holiday makers were enjoying sunbathing and swimming on Castle Beach. 

The boat runs every 20 minutes so we didn't have to wait long.  The crossing takes approximately 20 minutes.

Once we were safely on Caldey Island the boat travelled straight back to pick up more visitors.  The boatmen help everyone to get on and off the boat safely.  They are great with getting pushchairs onto the boat and have even carried my (no longer needed) pushchair up stairs for me in the past.  Many of them are members of the crew of Tenby Lifeboat.

Priory Bay is a picturesque wide sandy beach.  We spotted lots of jelly fish.

We followed the path towards the Village.

We passed an old anchor.

This is the amphibian that takes passengers to land during low tide.

Caldey Island is a very peaceful place where visitors are made to feel very welcome.

There are tea gardens where you can buy refreshments.  I used to love the ice cream before I became vegan.

We watched the ducks in the lily pond.

Two of them loved splashing around by the water feature.  They were great fun to watch.

On the green there is a stunning view of the monastery.  

We sat here and enjoyed our picnic (this lightened our bags a bit!).

We then visited the Post Office and Museum.

Outside the Post Office and dotted around the island there are honesty boxes to buy Caldey Lavender, fresh from the Abbey Herb Garden for £1.  We bought two bunches at the end of the day.  They were accompanied by a verse:

"Saint Luke, Saint Luke, be kind to me,
In my dreams let me my true love see."

This is because In folklore, Lavender was the herb of love. To give or receive Lavender was symbolic of devotion. If a young lady wished to identify her true love, on St Luke's day she would sip Lavender tea and recite the verse above.

We wrote postcards and sent them back to school.  It's exciting to think that our post will be travelling by boat too!  Souvenir Caldey Island Stamps are available in the post office.

We then walked up to Caldey Abbey.  We arrived just before Sext or Sixth Hour, a fixed time of Prayer was about to take place.

Here is the interior before the Monks arrived.  I didn't take any photos as the Monks prayed but you can watch The Monks of Caldey Island Perform the Sext Service in this video:

We then went to Priory Pond which is now home to two black swans, usually native to Australia.

They are very distinctive looking with their black feathers and bright red bills.

From here we had a great view of the Lighthouse, although we didn't have time to walk there on this occasion.

Caldey Island even has a Chocolate Factory.

The chocolate making room is where the Abbots Kitchen Chocolate bars are hand-made using the finest couverture (chocolate made with extra cocoa butter to give it a high gloss).

We bought a few bars of plain chocolate.  The chocolate is also available in the Gift Shop.

We then explored the Old Priory.  The Old Priory and St Illtyd's Church, with its leaning spire, are among the oldest and most interesting buildings on Caldey.

The Priory was home to the Benedictine Monks who lived on the island during 
 Medieval times.  These buildings have been unoccupied since the dissolution of the Monasteries (between 1536-1541) but St Illtyd's Church is still a consecrated Roman Catholic Church.

We lit a candle in memory of loved ones and popped our donation into the candle payment box.

We then had a look around the Church.

There is a table to write and leave prayer requests, messages or words of encouragement.

After exploring the Old Priory, we returned back to the village via the Nature Walk,

We had a little bit of time in the village before heading back to catch our boat.

There is a Perfume Shop where you can try and buy perfume made by the Monks of Caldey.

The Gift Shop offers a wide range of gifts and souvenirs.  

This shrine is in-scripted with the following:

Ave Maria Gratia Plena

Hail Mary, Full of Grace

Walsingham 1948

I wondered why Walsingham was mentioned so did a bit of research (okay, Googling!) and found this out:  Since 1061 when Richeldis, a devout noble English noblewoman, had a vision of the Virgin Mary, Walsingham has been venerated as one of the holiest places in England, and countless people have visited the village to ask Mary to pray to Jesus on their behalf.During the war years, Walsingham was a restricted zone closed to visitors, but many service men and women showed interest in the shrine. On May 17th 1945, the American Forces organised the first Mass in the Priory grounds since the Reformation. The first Student Cross pilgrimage and the great Cross Carrying Pilgrimage for Penance and Prayer in 1948 began traditions that continue today. Each year Student Cross still walk to the shrine during Holy Week carrying wooden crosses.

As we had to travel back to school it was already time for us to catch the boat back to Tenby.  We didn't have time to visit the Lighthouse, Herb Garden, St David's Church and Graveyard or the old School House.  I can't wait to visit again during the Summer Holidays.

While waiting for the boat we spotted more jellyfish.

The boat ride home was once again calm with beautiful blue skies.

We had great views of the colourful shoreline of Tenby.

As we came to land we had a great view of St Catherine's Island again.  We looked out for birds nesting in the rocks.

Back on dry land, we made our way back to the bus.  On the way we passed the old stables.

We spotted some of Tenby's infamous black "hanging toilets".

We passed the Lifeboat Station.

We said goodbye to the colourful houses of Tenby and made our way home.  A good, enjoyable and informative time was had by all.

Have you visited Caldey Island before?


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