"Lundy" Top 5 Page for this destination Lundy Island by maykal
Lundy Island Travel Guide: 149 reviews and 651 photos
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Anyone who has read my homepage will know that I am a fan of small remote islands. Places like St Helena, Tristan da Cunha and Pitcairn hold for me a strange fascination. But you don't need to sail for weeks on the high seas to find a remote island...lying in the Bristol Channel, just 11 miles from the North Devon coast, is Lundy.
Barely three miles long, Lundy is home to hundreds of grey seals, Soay sheep, Lundy ponies, mountain goats, puffins (Lundy in Old Norse means "Puffin island"), and a handful of humans. A church, three lighthouses, a castle, a shop, a pub and stone cottages form a tiny village. In summer, the MS Oldenburg slowly chugs its way across from Bideford or Ilfracombe every few days, taking anything between 1 and 3 hours, but in winter, the only way to reach Lundy is by helicopter from an equally remote helipad in Hartland.
I've been to Lundy three times now. Every holiday spent on the North Devon coast, Lundy always loomed ominously on the horizon, but my parents were never keen on choppy sea crossings, and anyway, what would we do with the dog?! (Dogs are not allowed on Lundy). My chance came one summer when my older brother also expressed an interest in Lundy, so we headed to Bideford to book tickets. Sod's Law says that every day will be sunny except the day you want it to be, and this proved to be the case. the morning of the first trip, heavy fog blanketed Lundy, so we couldn't make it out at all until we reached the Landing Bay. Fog remained with us all day, somewhat dampening our excitement and deafening our ears (Lundy's foghorn is loud enough to burst eardrums!). Despite the miserable weather, we walked the length of the island up the west coast to the North Light.
The following summer, we had a bit of luck, and spent a day exploring the dramatic west coast, catching glimpses of distant seals sunbathing on rocks and getting both windswept and sunburnt
This year, sixteen years after the last day trip, I went with my brothers to stay for a week. The Landmark Trust has taken over several buildings on the island and rents them out to anyone who fancies being marooned on an island for a few days without roughing it too much. We stayed in a house that was built for the governor, occupying a sheltered spot just below the village with stunning views down Milcombe Valley to the Landing Bay.
I was reluctant to go in the beginning. The distance put me off, as did the idea of being stuck on a small island with a very real chance of spending much of it indoors due to adverse weather. The distance was a bit ridiculous...from Durham, I had an eight hour bus journey down to London, then a train journey down to my brother's house in Dorking. The following day was mostly spent in a traffic jam around Stonehenge, and we took seven hours to drive to Ilfracombe. On the third day, we had to wait until mid afternoon for the tides to be high enough for the boat to dock in Ilfracombe, and on the way to Lundy, one of the engines packed in, so it took three hours instead of the usual two. Three full days of travel and I hadn't even left England...getting to Iraq was quicker!
We left the sunshine behind in Ilfracombe, and rain and mist on arrival at Lundy seemed to confirm my worst fears...the fog horn did sound all night, and the first day it did look as if the whole week was going to be shrouded in mist. But the mist cleared on day two, and we had a week of sun...as well as a lot of wind.
During the week, three boatloads of daytrippers came over from Devon. It really did seem like a mini invasion...it's amazing how a hundred extra people on the island changes the atmosphere completely, and also amazing how satisfying it is to wave them off, feeling all smug that you're there to stay.
Someone had written in the log book at our house that Lundy attracts three types of visitor...birdwatchers, divers and the lazy. We weren't there for the birds, and none of us were to be lured underwater, but I don't think we were exactly lazy either. Lundy may only be three miles long, but there are loads of paths to explore, and it is surprisingly hilly in places. I tried to do as much walking as I could, each day setting off for a different part of the island and discovering new paths to secret beaches, sheltered seal-watching spots, ruins of old cottages...meeting up with my brothers later in the day for a few drinks in the Marisco Tavern, Lundy's one and only pub and the hub of the island.
It was quite sad to see the Oldenburg arrive on the final Saturday to pick us up. I'd enjoyed myself, despite not really wanting to go in the first place...and who knows, one day I might be back...
***I'm in the process of rewriting this page, having deleted all the old tips and photos from 1994. The tips in the Things to Do/See chapter are all the main sights of Lundy that can be seen on a day trip if you only have a few hours ashore. For those who have the opportunity to stay longer, check the Off the Beaten Path section for some of the more hidden attractions***
As I said above, Lundy is a working farm, so it is not that surprising to find farmyard animals on the island as well as... more travel advice
Rabbits are a very common sight all over the island, although apparently numbers have reduced dramatically since an... more travel advice
- See All North Light - Secret Steps
- See All North Light
- Steep climbs
- Island Shop
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