Caldey Island Monastery
Three miles across the calm waters of Caldey Sound lies the beautiful monastery island of Caldey and its little sister, St. Margarets. Monks of one sort or another have lived and worked on Caldey for about 1500 years. Today it is owned by the Reformed Cistercian Order, who devote their lives to the service of god within the walls of the whitewashed monastery which dominates the village green.
Perhaps it is this long monastic heritage which gives Caldey its pervasive air of peace and tranquillity Coupled with its breathtaking natural beauty, and freedom from the excessive commercialism which afflicts so many popular tourist destinations, a day out on Caldey will reward the more thoughtful holidaymaker with memories of a deeper and more lasting kind.
Today the community of around 20 monks lead their lives according to the Rule of St. Benedict and attend 7 services each day in the simple dignity of the monastery church - the first at 3.15 am.!! In addition they farm the land and produce milk, butter, fresh and clotted cream, cheesecake, yoghurt, dairy ice cream and confectionery. Perhaps the most interesting range of their business venture is the manufacture of the famous range of Caldey perfumes and toiletries, inspired by the profusion of wild island flowers, gorse and herbs. A visit to the Perfumery Shop is a must.
Explore Caldey Island
The remainder of the island is easily explored on foot, but in the interests of safety visitors are requested to keep strictly to the main footpaths. Hard against the monastery enclosure lies St. Davids, the parish church of the island. Here the simple graves of the monks are marked with weatherbeaton wooden crosses. A short stroll past the old coastguard cottages returns you to the Post Office and its small museum.
Here you can have your postcards franked with the unique Caldey imprint. The signpost in the village directs you to past fuschia hedges and dry stone walls to St. Illtud's Church and the old Priory. Their ancient walls encapsulate the entire Christian history of the island, extending over many turbulent centuries. The same gently rising track leads finally to the lighthouse above the breakers on Chapel Point. Sweeping views now reveal much of the landscape of the island, with Tenby, and the surrounding National Park Coastline in the distance. Patient observation and a little luck may also expose seals on the ocean swells below.
If the sun is warm you may well feel like rounding your day off with a few hour's serious relaxation on the beach. So why not call to the convenient island tea garden for a delicious home made snack, before making your way to the fine sand of Priory Bay? Here the beach is quite safe for swimming and you can make the most of the afternoon sun.