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Grassholm Island

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Title: Grassholm Island  
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Subject: Efnysien, Bran the Blessed, List of national nature reserves in Wales, Pembrokeshire, List of places in Pembrokeshire (categorised)
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Grassholm Island

For other uses, see Grassholm (disambiguation).
Native name: Ynys Gwales
Location SM 597 093

51°43′52″N 5°28′47″W / 51.7311°N 5.4796°W / 51.7311; -5.4796Coordinates: 51°43′52″N 5°28′47″W / 51.7311°N 5.4796°W / 51.7311; -5.4796

Area 22 acres (8.9 ha)[1]
United Kingdom
County Pembrokeshire
Population Uninhabited

Grassholm (Welsh: Gwales or Ynys Gwales) is a small uninhabited island situated 13 kilometres (8 mi) off the southwestern Pembrokeshire coast in Wales, lying west of Skomer. It is the westernmost point in Wales and is known for its huge colony of gannets. Grassholm has been owned since 1947 by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and is one of its oldest reserves.

Grassholm National Nature Reserve is the third most important site for gannets in the world, after two sites in Scotland; St Kilda and Bass Rock. It serves as a breeding site for 39,000 pairs of the birds, and supports around 10 percent of the world population.[2] The turbulent sea around Grassholm also provides good feeding ground for porpoises and bottlenose dolphins.

Boats sail to Grassholm from St. Justinians lifeboat station and Martin's Haven on the mainland.

Geologically, the island is largely formed from keratopyhre though the northwest coast and islet of West Tump are formed from basalt. A couple of NE-SW aligned faults cross the island. Raised beaches are present in places.[3]

Grassholm has been identified with Gwales, an island featured in the Mabinogion. In the Second Branch of the Mabinogi, Gwales is the site of a fabulous castle where the severed head of Bran the Blessed is kept miraculously alive for eighty years while his companions feast in blissful forgetfulness.[4][5]

On 15 July 1945, the cargo ship Walter L M Russ ran aground on Grassholm and sank.[6] Nine crew were rescued by the Angle Lifeboat.[7]


External links


  • RSPB website
  • RSPB boat to Grassholm and Ramsey Island
  • Ramsey Island RSPB Nature Reserve
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