Ramsey Island

Half Day + Walk

DISTANCE/DURATION: 3.1 miles (4.9 km) 2 hours.
PUBLIC TRANSPORT: *Celtic Coaster 403 (*seasonal, hail & ride).
CHARACTER: Island walk, cliff edge, steep in parts.
LOOK OUT FOR: Superb island, coastal, mainland views. Seals and porpoises great variety of bird life, red deer and coastal flowers.
CAUTION: NO DOGS ALLOWED ON ISLAND. Please telephone Oriel y Parc Gallery and Visitor Centre (01437 720392) for boat crossing days/times/fares etc.

The twin hills of Ramsey give the island a striking profile when seen from the mainland. Closer to, the island is just as spectacular with its stretches of open heath and imposing cliffs.

Ramsey is a Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) reserve and between April and July the island comes alive as kittiwakes, razorbills, guillemots and fulmars nest at the island’s cliff-face colonies.

Choughs and wheatears also breed on Ramsey, while a previous owner established a herd of red deer.

Unlike Skomer, Ramsey does not have puffins or shearwaters. Both breed in burrows and are thought to have fallen victim to predation by the island’s rat population.

The island is also home to a large colony of grey seals. The seal pups snowy white during their first weeks of life – are born at the end of the summer.

Ramsey is the largest of a family of islands and islets that lie off the western tip of the St David’s peninsula. The surrounding sea is subject to extreme tides and the area has a chilling reputation; many ships have been wrecked here.

George Owen, the Tudor historian, said of the waters around Ramsey that they ‘preach deadly doctrine to their winter audience and are commendable in nothing’.

The connection between Ramsey and the cathedral across the water at St Davids is a strong one. One story tells how St Justinian, the friend and confessor of St David, retired to Ramsey but became tired of the many visitors who came across a causeway that linked island and mainland.

When the saint prayed for the causeway to be removed a giant axe is supposed to have appeared and hacked the causeway into the string of rocks that are now The Bitches.

Perhaps it is a coincidence that Justinian was finally beheaded on Ramsey by his followers. Legend has it that he picked it up his severed head then walked across Ramsey Sound to the mainland, only to expire where his chapel now stands.

Find this Walk

Grid Ref: SM700237


  • Take great care when on the Coast Path
  • Stay on the path and away from cliff edges
  • Wear boots and warm, waterproof clothing
  • Take extra care in windy and/or wet conditions
  • Always supervise children and dogs
  • Leave gates and property as you find them