Explore the Bristol Channel’s Holm Islands or land in cardiff
A typical day trip to explore the Bristol Channel's Holm Islands will mean boarding the Westward Ho at Weston's Knightstone Harbour. Trips usually leave once or twice a fortnight throughout the summer months to coincide with the spring tides. The Westward Ho is a purpose built Island Class Passenger landing Vessel certified by the MCA to carry 100 passengers. She was constructed by McRindles in Adrossan on the Clyde in 1989 as the Cromarty Rose for the Cromarty – Nigg service which she did until 2009. We then bought her, steamed her half way around Britain to the Bristol Channel and refitted her for her current duties. Pictures of this epic voyage are available to view in the gallery voyage back from NE Scotland. She also has the distinction of being Britain's smallest car ferry.
The ship will normally depart at a reasonable hour in the morning and the leisurely crossing will take about an hour, occasionally we will cruise around Steep Holm Island along the way but only if time and tides permit? Tannoy commentary will be provided and the various sights along the way will be explained. We have comfortable seating; plenty of deck space to walk about, a covered saloon with toilet and from the afterdeck there is a staircase to the bridge deck for better views. Steep Holm is the more exposed of the two islands and its rugged geology means that many of its features can only be seen from the sea such as the fascinating layers of rock strata and the Cormorant colony which is perched high up on the 200 foot sheer cliffs of the Island’s North side. Many of the wartime installations can now only be seen from the sea as access ways and hand rails have rotted away making access from the island impossible or just too dangerous. On the way around you will see most of the islands ruins, The top of Steep Holm is covered with about 40 acres of brambles.
On arriving at Flatholm Island you will be greeted by the Island’s full time staff of Wardens who will invite you on a guided tour of the Island and give talks on the Island’s fascinating history. There are over 20 buildings on Flatholm many of which have been fully restored. In the Victorian Army Barracks which is identical in design and size to the one on Steep Holm, you will find a museum, lecture room and the Island’s pub called the Gull & Leek. On the Eastern side of the Island you will find the Trinity House Fog Horn Station, inside are the original Gardner generators and compressors that power the mighty horn on top of the building. Although this is no longer in regular service it is kept operational and every once in a while it lets off a few blasts to keep it maintained. Adjacent is the Station’s cottage which has now been restored and is available for short stay breaks, which can be arranged via the islands management team. On this side of the Island there is also a very decent complex of toilet facilities originally installed by the Military.
Flatholm Island covers some 86 acres and on the West of the Island you will find the large farmhouse which was once the Island’s Hotel this has also been restored and is now where you will find the café, Please note that snacks and drinks are available on the island but these are limited to Crisps, Chocolate, cans, etc, there is not a sit down menu or prepared home cooked food so you are advised to bring with you a decent packed lunch. There is another lecture room, upstairs there are dormitories where visiting groups can stay. The Island also has a fully working farm and at certain times of the year various Island produce can be bought. As there are free roaming Hens and Sheep on the Island we are not allowed to land dogs.
Please note that we will do our best to include the Steep Holm cruise and as it is our intention to give passengers an enjoyable and leisurely cruise, on blustery days we may only be able to proceed to Flatholm or in really bad weather we may have to cancel altogether but this will be very unusual.
Weston - Cardiff Ferry Service
During the Summer months we also run a limited schedule of ferry services between Weston and Cardiff. This is a really dramatic way to enter Cardiff! On a fine day you will see a unique view of the coastline of both sides of the Bristol Channel, Monkstone Lighthouse and distant views of both Severn Bridges, you may also see close up views of Shipping bound to or from Bristol Channel ports. You will then experience going through the deep water locks specially built into the multi billion pound barrage that was built to enclose the waters of Cardiff Bay. You will then cross these newly enclosed waters where we will then land you on the newly constructed Mermaid Quay right in the heart of the former Tiger Bay, you will come ashore less than 100 yards from Bute Street where you will have the whole day to enjoy the multitude of delights that massive recent investment has brought to this area of Cardiff. There is also a land train that makes regular trips right into the centre of Cardiff should you wish to go shopping. Some passengers may be staying aboard for onward sailing to land on Flatholm Island.
At £24.00 return we are even cheaper than the train or going by car and paying for the bridge and parking all day. However please note that this trip can be a lively crossing on blustery days and our sheltered saloon cannot accommodate everybody if we are fully booked. So you may wish to bring a coat or brolly in case of rain or sea-spray.
Departure times from Cardiff are from the Barrage Locks so Please make sure you are at the pick up point at least 20 minutes before the listed departure time if you are late we will not be able to wait or come back for you as we are working to the tides and booked locks so please make sure that you are back on time otherwise you will have to make your own arrangements to get back. Passengers are not allowed to board the ship in the locks. Also on rare occasions the locks can become extremely busy or the tides can be slightly off prediction, this can force us to be delayed, on these occasions we will do all that we can to make up the time if possible?
Please note that we will not be sailing from Cardiff this year 2013
A ONE HOUR CRUISE ALONG THE BREAN DOWN PENINSULA AND AROUND WESTON BAY
During the summer months we also offer a limited schedule of pleasure cruises from Weston’s Knightstone Harbour along the Somerset Coastline and Brean Down Peninsula viewing the historic Fortress on the Down’s Western end. The cruise then goes out into the Channel then back into Sand Bay taking in a close view of Weston’s historic Old Pier and now disused Steamer Jetty. After making a close pass of Anchor Head the cruise then returns to Harbour.
For more information with full details of dates and prices please see our sailing schedule.
Westward Ho’s epic voyage half way around Britain from Cromarty pictures now available at Westward Hos voyage.