The stunning UK island forgotten by tourists that has ONE resident who survives off rain & runs nation's most remote pub | The Sun

ITS rugged beauty and promise of solitude has been a draw for those seeking a simpler life since the Bronze Age.

Across the centuries, tiny Flat Holm island off the south Wales coast has been home to a hermit saint, monks, smugglers, artists, writers and, more recently, those wanting to escape the breakneck pace of modern life.

And, thousands and thousands of gulls.

The island has a significant breeding colony of more than 4,000 pairs of lesser black-headed gulls, 400 pairs of herring gulls and two pairs of great black-headed gulls.

The sound of their screeching day and night is a constant feature of life on Flat Holm. Little wonder then, that the island’s only pub is called the Gull and Leek.

Visit Wales describes the island – four miles off the Welsh coast – as “a hidden jewel in the Bristol Channel”, which promises “a sense of wilderness, remoteness and isolation to anyone who visits”.


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On an unseasonably hot late-summer afternoon, the boat-load of visitors taking the trip to the island agreed.

Keen photographer Adrian Faulkner, 61, from Swansea, had decided to make the trip to Flat Holm to capture images of the island’s natural beauty – and enjoy a pint at one of the UK’s remotest boozers.

He said: “My daughter bought me a voucher to come to the island at Christmas as a gift.

“She was hoping the weather would be nice so I could take plenty of photos and I think I chose the perfect day to come.

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“I’ve got some great pictures. But now I’m ready for a pint.”

As he sipped his frothing pint in the Gull and Leek, he declared: “This is the best pint I’ve ever had. Maybe it’s just the effect of the fresh air.

“It’s a beautiful little pub too, easily the smallest I’ve ever been in.

“It’s really quaint and I like that. Unfortunately, it’s a bot too far from home for me to make it my regular, but I’ll definitely be back again soon.”

'Best beer I've had'

Jan, who is Danish, made the trek from his home in London, where he has lived for the past three years. He was visiting Flat Holm “out of curiosity”, he said.

“I’ve been curious about the history and isolation of this island for a long time. It hasn’t disappointed me. I love its remoteness and how beautiful it is. It is just as nature wanted it to be.”

Jan too has fallen for the allure of the quiet pub before taking the boat back to the mainland after three hours on the island.

“The beer is almost the best I’ve ever had,” said Jan. “I’ve never been a pub as small as this before, but the atmosphere in here alone is worth coming here for. I might very well come back.”

His beer has been poured by the island’s sole inhabitant, its warden Simon Parker, who also has the role of boatman ferrying the visitors to and from Flat Holm.

The island host is a former Royal Navy helicopter engineer, originally from Grimsby. After being made redundant in 2016, he wanted to use the money to "do something crazy”, he later told Wales Online.

Earlier this year, he successfully applied for the post of Flat Holm warden and is loving his new role.

He said: ”I knew what I was getting into. I knew that the island is very unique. It's difficult to describe fully how it feels to live here. It's so cut off, but also so close – I can see Cardiff out of my window.

"There's always something going on on the island. The wildlife is always up to something. I've felt lonelier in cities and in towns where I feel there's a big disconnect in people's lives."


The island is fully self-autonomous, so he is always busy. He has to collect his own water, make sure power supplies – including solar power and generators – are in good working order, and take care of heating.

Food is delivered to the island, and Simon says they have a good stock of tins of beans and tomatoes, as well as pasta. "It's a treat if somebody brings something crazy like, I don't know, a loaf of bread," he joked.

The island has a water catchment area dating back to the Victorian times that Simon uses to collect water. Rainwater is funneled to an underground tank, which is pumped and filtered before being fed throughout the island. The water is sterilised so it is safe to drink and is tested regularly.

Another day boat-tripper to the island, care worker Angela, 44, was bowled over by the "gentle pace of life".

“What a wonderful, inspiring place to visit. I hear they offer retreats for people to come and spend a few days here painting, or writing," she said.

“I think that would be an interesting holiday. A few hours like we have today doesn’t really feel like long enough.

“The place is absolutely beautiful. The warden is a very lucky man.”

Will, 62, from Bridgend, said: “This is my third time here and I love it. It’s so peaceful – apart from the gulls – and I feel like I’m melting into nature.

“There are very places you can go to in the modern world where you feel like you’re truly getting away from it all, but this is one of them.”

Will, who lives and works in Cardiff as an engineer, added: “I’m not sure I could live here because I’d feel too cut off, but I could certainly manage a few weeks away from it all.


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“That said, it must get pretty bleak out here in the middle of the Bristol Channel in the depths of winter.

“I bet it’s sent a few people mad over the centuries."

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