Writing on Enlli

Sat 20 April 2024 - Sat 27 April 2024
Tutors / Jon Gower & Elinor Gwynn
Guest Reader / Iestyn Tyne
Course Fee / From £ per person
Genres / FictionNatureNon-FictionPoetry
Language / Bilingual

This course is held in partnership with Bardsey Island Trust and with generous support from the Llŷn AONB Sustainable Development Fund, Gwynedd County Council and the Welsh Government.

IMPORTANT! Please note that this course is not held at Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre, but on Ynys Enlli / Bardsey Island.

In April 2024, Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre will be going on tour and venturing over the Swnt to Ynys Enlli for a special course under the care of ecologist, Elinor Gwynn and author, Jon Gower. Special guests will also be joining us during the week to contribute different perspectives to the course. Further details and a full timetable will follow shortly, but here’s a taste of what to expect:

During this week-long course, you’ll be sharing a house with your fellow participants and will be attending inspirational workshops and activities which will support you in writing about the landscape and the world around us.

Over the course of the week, there’ll be opportunity to explore Enlli’s trails, learn more about the island’s history and wildlife, and enjoy the company of the island’s dwellers and other visitors who cherish this unique and magical part of Wales. We’ll be considering different varieties of flora and fauna as well as Enlli’s rock formations from a climate perspective, whilst also reflecting on the sea’s influence on the island. The week will offer you the opportunity to discover every inch of this small piece of land which has inspired artists and writers for centuries. There’ll also be plenty of free time reserved within the course schedule for you to enjoy yourself, relax and rest.


Practical Information:


The boat to Ynys Enlli will leave from Porth Meudwy (LL53 8DA) on the morning of Saturday 20 April 2024, and return a week later – with the boat leaving Ynys Enlli on the morning of Saturday 27 April. The fee for the journey by boat is included in the course fee. We will confirm the exact leaving time of the boat closer to the date, following further information from the Captain and subject to weather conditions. The journey by boat takes around 20 minutes. We will provide more details regarding the meeting point and boat arrangements closer to the time.



Up to 14 course participants will share a house (Plas Bach and/or Tŷ Capel) for the week. You can choose which type of room you would like to book, depending on availability. You can bring a partner or friend, and share a room; pay a little more to have a room to yourself; or apply to share a room with two single beds with another course participant. The accommodation fee is included in the course fee.

Option 1: 

Shared room: single bed (in a shared room with two single beds)
£625 per person
Please note when booking if you are booking with a friend (and want to share a room with them) or if you are just booking for yourself and willing to share with another course participant.

Option 2:

Single room (one single bed)
£675 per person

Option 3:

Double room (one double bed) as single occupancy
£725 per person

Option 4:

Double room (one double bed) to share with partner/friend
£625 per person


Please note that Ynys Enlli has very basic facilities; that’s part of its magic. There is no electricity in the houses and various lamps are used to light them. Due to health and safety regulations, the use of candles is not permitted. It would be a good idea for you to bring head torches with you, or other torches.

Although they are not luxurious, the houses are comfortably furnished. Plas Bach is a five-bedroom house. Tŷ Capel is a four-bedroom house. In the kitchen there is a gas oven, fridge/freezer and adequate catering equipment. Dishes, washing-up liquid, toilet paper and house cleaning equipment are provided.


Toilets and Washing Facilities

There are no bathrooms in the houses. A composting toilet is located outside every house, in a small outhouse, most often in the garden. Please note that it is your responsibility to empty your own toilet bucket. There is a disposal site for each house. This toilet will be shared by all the residents in the house.

There are no showers or traditional washing facilities on the island. There is a bowl and jug in each bedroom, and it will be possible to boil water for washing. You should bring a towel for your own personal use.



A multi-fuel stove is located in the living room of the houses. If you wish to light it there will be a supply of fuel located in the house for you. Although we will be visiting in April, and it is hoped that the weather will be favourable, you should bring warm clothes for the evenings, as there is no heating in the bedrooms.


Cleaning and Refuse

The island trust implements a self-cleaning policy in the houses; they do not charge for cleaning, but ask all guests to leave the house in a clean and tidy condition, ready for the next guests.

They also ask guests to take all their rubbish and recycling items back with them. Recycling bins are placed at the entrance to Cwrt Farm on the mainland.


Water / Drinking Water

All houses have a supply of cold water from a well. You should be aware that water on the Island is scarce and must be used carefully and sparingly. Water from the well is for drinking and cooking only, and must be conserved.


Food, drink and catering

Your meals will be cooked and provided for you on the island. We would kindly ask you to help with the dishes. There will be a simple breakfast and lunch, and dinner included in the price of the course. We can cater for a variety of different needs, but we ask that you let us know when booking, please, so that we can thoroughly prepare for you. We would recommend bringing snacks and any personal preferences of drinks with you, and remind you that there is no grocery store on the island, only what is for sale at the farm. There is a café that provides meals and cakes, as well as a supply of alcohol for sale on the island. These can only be paid for with cash, so be sure to bring cash with you.



What should I pack?

Please keep baggage to a minimum as the boat has only limited hold capacity. Pack all parcels in small, easily-handled loads that are sealed, waterproof (use containers or wrap in plastic) and well secured. All belongings should be clearly marked with the name of the house in which you will be staying. Unmarked luggage may be delayed or go astray.

Please bring the following items for your stay on the island:

  • Footwear and clothing for all weather
  • Warm pyjamas, as there is no heating in bedrooms
  • Towels and washing kit
  • A good torch and spare batteries – the use of candles and tea-lights is not permitted.
  • Medication – if you use any medication please ensure that you bring extra supplies to last at least another week.
  • Important – pack your luggage in small sealed packages which are easy to handle.

Note: Tŷ Newydd staff will bring a supply of duvet covers, sheets, pillow cases and tea towels.


Should I bring any additional equipment with me?

There is a limit to the amount of luggage that can be carried on the boat, however the following may enhance your Enlli experience:

  • Pair of binoculars
  • Art materials
  • Fishing rod / bait
  • Musical instruments (not too big!)
  • Camera and spare batteries (If you intend on taking any commercial photographs, please contact the Bardsey Island Trust)
  • Mobile phone – please be aware that you may pick up a mobile phone signal from Ireland which may incur additional charges to your tariff. There is a 4G signal for EE (best) and Vodafone from some areas on the island. There is no electricity to recharge your mobile on the island.
  • Solar-powered battery charger / battery pack for your devices


Can I go swimming?

The Bardsey Island Trust and Tŷ Newydd do not recommend sailing, kayaking or swimming around the coastline of Bardsey as the strong currents can be very dangerous. Any of these activities are undertaken at your own risk.


What’s available at Tŷ Pellaf Farm and Café?

The café at Tŷ Pellaf Farm, run by the Roberts family, serves various drinks, ice cream, snacks and homemade cakes daily.

Tŷ Pellaf is licensed to sell alcohol, reducing the need to bring your supplies with you.

As well as the café, the farm will be selling fresh, free-range island eggs, seasonal vegetables, crabs and lobsters boiled or fresh, straight off the boat.


What will happen if the weather’s not favourable and the boat cannot cross?

If the weather is too bad for the boat to cross on the day originally planned, Colin Evans, the boatman, will transport you to the island on the next available day, weather conditions permitting.

Tŷ Newydd will contact all participants as soon as possible in the event of having to amend the schedule.


Are there any downstairs bedrooms?

All of Plas Bach and Tŷ Capel’s bedrooms are upstairs.


How is all our luggage taken to the boat and to our accommodation once we arrive on the island?

Your luggage will be taken by a 4×4 and trailer down to the boat at Porth Meudwy and will be collected from the boat by the tractor and trailer or a buggy once you arrive on Bardsey.

Please ensure your luggage is in small, easily handled boxes and bags, as they need to be lifted onto the boat. We kindly ask you not to pack everything into a large heavy suitcase.


I’d like more information about the composting toilet. Can you explain how it works?

The toilets for guests are simple compost toilets. They have a toilet seat above a bucket. When you use the toilet, only toilet paper must be put in the toilet. Bins are provided for all other non-compostable materials. A small sprinkling of sawdust is added after use. You will need to empty the toilet during your stay. Gloves are provided for this and the Wardens will explain the process on your arrival.


What lighting is there in our accommodation?

There is no electricity in any of the houses for hire on Bardsey. Small lamps and solar lamps are provided. We recommend bringing a head torch or two and some spare batteries for your stay… especially for any evening trips to the toilet!

The good news is you will enjoy some of the darkest skies in Wales on Bardsey, with plenty of opportunities for stargazing.


What’s the situation regarding bathrooms and showers?

There are no bathrooms or showers in any of Bardsey’s guest houses; washing bowls are provided. You use water from the water butt outside (not the water from the well as this is for drinking and cooking only and must be conserved). You heat your washing water on the stove in a big pan provided. There are plenty of bowls in the houses, so you can take the bowl to your room to wash. Plas Bach has a room that can be used as washrooms. The toilet is a compost toilet located in the garden.


I have a disability or a condition which affects my mobility. Is this course suitable for me?

Please contact us to discuss your requirements. We will try our very best to be as accommodating as possible.


Marian Delyth

Jon Gower

Jon Gower has by now filled over half his bookshelves with his own works, boasting over forty titles. His books include Y Storïwr (Gwasg Gomer, 2011), Norte (Gwasg Gomer, 2015)Rebel Rebel (Y Lolfa, 2016) and The Story of Wales (Ebury Publishing, 2013). He was the Arts Broadcaster for BBC Cymru and International Hay Festival Fellow and has also worked for the RSPB. Enlli has appeared in his work repeatedly, such as in his latest book, The Turning Tide: A Biography of the Irish Sea and also Wales At Water’s Edge: A Coastal Journey (HarperCollins, 2023).


Elinor Gwynn

With a background in science and climate law, Elinor Gwynn has extensive experience of working in landscape, climate, heritage, and sustainability sectors. She has worked for numerous organisations which include the National Trust, the Countryside Council for Wales, Snowdonia National Park, the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Welsh Centre for International Affairs and Natural Resources Wales. She has also worked as a freelancer in various fields which span across creative writing and translation to advising on heritage grant applications. Elinor has recently completed a PhD on the relationship between language and environment at Aberystwyth University and she received an award for her environmental writing at the Eisteddfod Genedlaethol in 2023.

Guest Reader

Iestyn Tyne

Iestyn Tyne was brought up on a farm in Boduan, Pen Llŷn and has now settled in Caernarfon with his family. He is the co-founder and co-editor of Y Stamp magazine and publications, and has published three volumes of poetry to date. He is a member of a number of musical groups and has performed his work across Wales and beyond, including tours in Europe, South America and Africa, He won the Crown at the Urdd National Eisteddfod in 2016, and the Chair in 2019, becoming the first person in the history of the event to have won both main literary prizes. In 2019, he was appointed the National Eisteddfod's first ever poet in residence, undertaking the work of responding to the community campaign leading up to the Llŷn ac Eifionydd Eisteddfod of 2023. He is co-editor of Welsh (Plural) (Repeater, 2021), a collection of essays on the future of Wales. Y Pump (Y Lolfa, 2021), the series of YA novels he worked on alongside nine other authors and co-authors, won the secondary age category of the Tir Na N-Og awards 2022. His third collection of poems, Stafelloedd Amhenodol (Cyhoeddiadau’r Stamp, 2021), reached the Wales Book of the Year shortlist in 2022.  



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