The essential journalist news source
Discover your inner Robinson Crusoe with a visit to Flat Holm

If you've ever had the urge to explore a beautiful island, get back to nature and discover your inner Robinson Crusoe you now have the chance – and it's just five miles off the coast of Cardiff.

Flat Holm, the little emerald jewel in the Bristol Channel, can seem close enough to touch on a clear sunny day and its appeal has been drawing settlers to its shore for more than 2,000 years. Since the Bronze Age it has attracted a colourful array of farmers, pioneers, soldiers and scientists, all drawn to its unique qualities.

Now, Cardiff Council – which owns the island – is inviting you to join those who've explored and enjoyed this Site of Special Scientific Interest and Local Nature Reserve. With the help of the wildlife experts and wardens who maintain Flat Holm, it has announced a season of day events and short residential stays for individuals and groups.

Described as "a unique and rewarding experience if you are up for the challenge and adventure of life on a small, remote island", the visits include hostel-style accommodation in a converted farmhouse and a chance to learn new skills, make special memories and forge lasting friendships.

Cllr Jennifer Burke, the Council's Cabinet Member for Culture, Parks, Events and Venues, said Flat Holm was one of the lesser known jewels among Cardiff's green spaces. "It is quite a beautiful and historic place," she said. "As a nature reserve, we have to protect it but I'm delighted that we can open it up in a limited way through these cultural and well-being visits."

Visits, which cost between £100 and £260, include return boat transport, accommodation and tuition. This year's programme is:

  •  Adventures in creative writing (August 23-25) A chance to develop your writing skills under the guidance of artist and writer Sarah Featherstone
  • Salt spray and skies – art workshop (July 5-7) A course suitable for all enthusiasts of art and nature – and all abilities – this will include an attempt to capture Flat Holm from a bird's eye view
  • Sunspots, sunsets and stargazing (July 13-14) Well away from much of Cardiff's light pollution, Flat Holm offers a chance to see the night sky in all its glory, including the Milky Way, aided by special telescopes provided by Cardiff Astronomical Society
  • Photography skills summer weekend (August 2-4; October 4-6) This course will help you use a range of different camera settings and features to get the best out of your photography
  • Conservation volunteer experience (August 26-30) A chance to experience living and working on an island and a holiday with a difference where you can give something back to nature, including carrying out vital conservation tasks and helping to restore and maintain heritage buildings
  • Restore, relax and connect – wellbeing retreat (August 30-September 1; September 6-8) Take a break from the everyday and recharge your batteries through activities including yoga, Qigong and Freedom dance

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