Sully is a small tidal island off the coast
at the hamlet of Swanbridge, midway between Penarth and Barry. It is a small
island of just 14.5 acres, and is uninhabited. There is a rocky causeway
connecting the island to the mainland which is generally uncovered for
around three hours either side of low tide. This means for the rest of the
day the island is cut off from the mainland. The tide does come in fast so
if you visit you need to be very careful getting to and from the island.
There is evidence that the island was
frequently visited by both Romans and Vikings and there is archaeological
evidence of a Saxon fort occupying the eastern end of the Island, on the
summit of which is a Bronze Age barrow. During the 13th century it is
believed to have been the base of a Norman pirate, known locally as 'The
Night Hawk' and during the middle ages it was well known as a local
smuggling point. Records from the 1500's show traders trying to evade the
payment of duty, and a court record from 1569 shows contraband of 28,000lbs
of cheese and 80 barrels of butter being seized.
Grid Ref: ST169670
In 2009 it was up for sale, and as it is part
of a heritage coast, no planning permission for housing would be granted,
although the local council would look sympathetically at any planning of a
There is a Danish Iron
Age Hill Fort on the eastern end of the island, on the top of which is a
Bronze age barrow. There are no visible remains but it is the highest
point on the island and gives a good viewpoint. There is also the
remains of a Victorian Shipwreck which can be found on the foreshore
nearest the mainland which becomes visible at very low tide.
You also get views back across to the
mainland including the buildings back at Swanbridge and the industrial
chimneys at Barry. Looking out to sea across the Severn estuary towards
the south west of England, on a good visibility day you can see down
channel to Porlock in Devon and up channel as far as the Severn Bridge
as well as across to the Somerset Coast. You also get views of Flat Holm
Island with it's large white lighthouse,
Lighthouse, situated on the top.
To get more idea of what can be seen and
photographed both on the island and from the island back towards it see
this link of photos by Ben Salter.
Wildlife and Fauna
It once had a vast colony of rabbits,
however during the 1950's when myxomatosis for prevalent in the UK the
population was quickly wiped out. From time to time new rabbit colonies
do set up home on the island but they are at nowhere near the 1950's
levels. The waters around the island are fished for species such as cod,
whiting, dogfish, conger eel and bass. Most of the island is covered
with coarse grass, and with much of the island being sandy and loamy
other species do struggle to survive. Plant life recorded on the island
includes bee orchard, marine spleenwort and the adder's tongue fern.
A Victorian Sea Wreck
which can be seen on the island at Low Tide
How to Get
From exit 33 of the M4 head
A4232 until you reach the A4055 towards Penarth. From Penarth or Barry take
the B4276 to reach Swanbridge. Access to the island is on
foot at low tide from the car park of the Captains Wife pub and restaurant in the hamlet of Swanbridge.
It can be accessed via a causeway three hours either side of low tide.
The Causeway from Sully Island
Links and Lists
Shingle Spit from Swanbridge out to Sully