Sunday 25 September 2011

Islands around the UK

image courtesy wikipedia
Several years ago H and I decided to visit as many islands as we could around the UK. There are various debates regarding how many islands there are. Some say over 2000, but that includes large rocks jutting out of the sea, which I do not think count.  According to the Ordnance Survey they have identify 803 islands with a coastline. There are only 136 that are inhabited, some have no more than two people living on them. To date we have visited 20, and our aim is to visit at least one island a year. On the spur of the moment, last Friday, having hastily booked bed/breakfast, we set off for Devon. Our mission was to catch the morning ferry to Lundy Island on Saturday morning.
Friday was lovely and warm, and we had time to call in at Dunster to see the castle and medieval town.
Dunster Castle dominates the town. Dating from Norman times, it became a Royalist garrison during the Civil War.  The castle was the home of the Luttrell family for over 600 years.
Dunster Castle
The Dream Garden, belonging to the castle and looking towards medieval Dunster with the 15th C parish church.
The Old Nunnery - I have never seen a building quite like this before in the UK. It is covered in wooden shingles with two distinct overhangs. It was built in 1346 by Cleeve Abbey, however, it was never inhabited by nuns, but used to house guests visiting the abbey.
Dunster Yarn Market built in 1609 by George Luttrell, of Dunster Castle. This was a covered market for the sale of local broadcloth and homespuns.
Early the next morning we were down at the ferry terminal to be sure of getting a ticket, only to find ourselves confronted with over 150 bird twitchers. Apparently now, and for the next few days, winter migrating birds, flying south, cross Lundy in great numbers. We were, however, lucky and managed to get two tickets.
Leaving Ilfracombe on the 2 hour ferry crossing - Lundy is at the very edge of the Bristol Channel and the start of the Atlantic Ocean.
Lundy Island is a pretty wild place with a Tavern, Church, Shop and a few places to rent i.e. the lighthouse, fishermen's cottages and old farmsteads. It is a nature lovers paradise with an ecosystem unique to the island i.e wild Lundy Island cabbage which grows nowhere else in the world, and black, shaggy rabbits, that probably resulted from escaped domestic rabbits interbreeding with the wild ones.
No E11R on Lundy post boxes
The ferry awaiting our return.
 Back to Devon, but very tired 

as the sun goes down.


  1. Hello Rosemary:
    We so like the idea of island visiting but with a total in excess of 800 it is certainly going to take some doing to see them all. Possibly you may need, in order to make real progress, to increase your target upwards from one a year!!

    Lundy looks and sounds to be beautiful and somewhere to which we should much enjoy a boat trip, particularly on a calm, sunny day.

  2. Hello Jane and Lance - yes you are right, we really do need to up the stakes. We have downgraded out ideas to those that are inhabited only, but 136 is more than we can possibly manage in our life time.

  3. there is something about england, islands or not, that warms my heart. its a bit weird `cause i don`t realy have any connection to this country whatsoever, exept some cool bloggers i `ve got to know from there ; )

  4. Dear Demie - what a very sweet comment. You would love swimming in the water around Lundy. It is very cold, and there are lots of grey seals, and dolphins.

  5. What a great idea.... island hopping! So far I've been to the bigger islands around the UK... Isle of Wight and Jersey, and Inner Farne and Holy Island off the coast of Northumberland.
    Lundy looks wonderful, and I did enjoy your photo tour :-)

  6. Hello Rosemary - I think that you and H should visit two islands per year, which would still extend your lives (I'm guessing here) past one hundred.

    The Dunster castle is my image of how a castle should look, and it appears still habitable. The island is too remote for me to call home, but I would enjoy the sort of day trip you took. Now my question is, What's a twitcher?

  7. Dear Mark - you are on the right track - 3 islands would be even better!!! Dunster castle is now owned by the National Trust, but fully furnished and presented as the Lutterell family lived in it.
    There are no residents on Lundy, only wardens who look after it.
    Now, twitchers are bird fanatics, who travel the globe looking for rare species with huge telephoto lenses sticking out everywhere, so that they can capture them on camera.

  8. Island Twitchers! as I call them... we get them here on Fair Isle all the time. Somehow they think of themselfs less foolish than bird twitchers? lol the mast foolish of them all...
    "Island Man"
    cheers Tommy

  9. Dear Tommy - I didn't realise that there was such a thing as Island Twitchers!!! Hopefully with only one or two islands a year, we are only very slightly infected.

  10. Dear Nat - you have made a very good start. Have a go at some of the Scottish islands e.g Bute, Arran, Mull, and Skye are all beautiful and easily accessible.

  11. What a lovely idea to island visit... and this was a great post. So very English. Made me quite nostalgic! Thank you.

  12. Dear earlybird - thanks for visiting, I am pleased that you enjoyed a nostalgic trip with me.

  13. Rosemary, your blog is a gift to this American Anglophile. Many thanks to Kate Shrewsday for introducing me to you. I will enjoy reading. And looking. And sighing.

  14. Dear Andra - thanks for stopping by. I am delighted that you enjoyed what you saw, and look forward to hearing from you again.

  15. What a wonderful journey. THANK YOU. If ever I get the chance...

  16. Dear Yvette - I am pleased that you enjoyed the journey. Travelling to islands takes a bit of extra effort, but it is worth it.

  17. We had a family holiday to Woolacombe last year, and on the penultimate day my wife and I went over to Lundy on the MS Oldenberg. Your photos certainly brought back the memories! We will be going again, when the children are a bit older. It is like something out of The Famous Five, so interesting and mysterious, and a fab pub as well, marvellous.

  18. Hello Genius Loci - you are right it is like something out of The Famous Five, and I am sure your children will really enjoy going over when they are older. The old pub has a great atmosphere.


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