Discover for yourself the emerald jewel of the Bristol Channel

Just five miles off the coast of Cardiff, there’s a natural haven that has had a human connection for more than 2,000 years.

On a clear day, Flat Holm island – a small emerald jewel in the Bristol Channel – seems close enough to touch and since the Bronze Age it has attracted a colourful array of settlers, farmers, pioneers, soldiers and scientists, all drawn to its unique qualities.

Its current status as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Local Nature Reserve makes it even more appealing to visitors, yet its remote location and changing tides means it can appear tantalisingly out of reach to modern explorers.

Now, Cardiff Council – which owns the island – is making this fascinating outpost accessible to everyone through a series of themed midweek breaks that include courses in wellness and creative writing as well as conservation experiences.

Restore, Relax and Reconnect (August 16-18; or September 1-3)

Unwind from daily life and reconnect to nature with Kerry Sanson, a healer, group fitness leader and personal training coach. The retreat offers opportunities to try movements such as Yoga, Qigong, Freedom Dance and mindful practices and learn new techniques and skills.

Adventures in creative writing (September 29-October 1)

For beginners, or those with experience, be inspired by the island’s rich natural beauty and fascinating history to develop your writing under the guidance of Cardiff-based artist and writer Sarah Featherstone.

Island life – conservation volunteer experience (September 4-8)

Whether you’re looking for a career in nature conservation or simply a holiday with a difference, this four-day break offers the perfect opportunity to work alongside the island warden team carrying out vital tasks including grassland management, helping nesting gulls, monitoring the rare slow worm population and restoring heritage buildings.

You will also get to experience what day visitors do not – sitting under the stars, watching the lights of the city and the ships at night and admiring stunning sunsets and sunrises.

All trips are self-catered and include a return boat journey, basic shared hostel-style accommodation and tuition and activities run by experienced instructors. For more information, visit

Flat Holm Fact File

  •  Despite being just over a 10th of a square mile in area, Flat Holm has a big history. It was first inhabited during the Bronze Age (900-700BC) and in the 5th-6th Century AD was a retreat for St Cadoc who lived as a hermit on the island
  • It has connections to the Anglo-Saxons and the Vikings, and in 1542 Henry VIII granted a lease to Edmund Tournor to farm the island
  • In the 18th Century it provided an ideal base for smuggling
  • Despite the 1737-built lighthouse, it has seen numerous shipwrecks. In 1817, the British sloop William and Mary foundered after hitting rocks off Flat Holm with the loss of 54 passengers, 50 of whom are buried on the island
  • During the Second World War, 350 soldiers of the Royal Artillery were stationed on the island to protect shipping convoys between Cardiff, Barry and Flat Holm
  • In 2008, in the ‘Adrift’ episode of the BBC’s Dr Who spin-off Torchwood, the island was featured as the home of a secret medical facility
  • The island is currently managed by Cardiff Council, and supported by the Flat Holm Project, which is a registered charity