Lundy is a tiny island situated in the Bristol Channel, ten miles off the coast of Devon. Some of you may recognise the name, as there is an area of sea named after it (which means that it is included in the Shipping Forecast on BBC Radio 4). It is three miles long and half a mile wide - just the right size to take a leisurely stroll round its circumference in a day with time to stop and look at the scenery and wildlife. The island is formed by a granite intrusion1 roughly 400ft high, forming a rough plateau and dropping in steep cliffs to the sea on the west side, with slightly gentler cliffs on the east. Lundy is owned by the National Trust but is financed and maintained by the Landmark Trust, who offer day trips and longer stays on the island.
Getting to Lundy
The journey to Lundy is made on a ferry called the MS Oldenburg (unless the weather is particularly bad in which case they take you by helicopter). She travels to Lundy from Bideford and Ilfracombe with up to 267 passengers and/or supplies. The journey takes under two hours. If you get sea sick, take travel sickness pills. Don't worry if you feel ill on the way there, though - it is always better on the way back!
Where to Stay
There is a choice of 23 properties to stay in during your visit to the island. So, as you can imagine, there is something to suit almost everyone! Some of the most interesting ones are:
The castle was built by Henry III in 1244 and was paid for from the sale of rabbits, as Lundy was a Royal warren! There are actually three cottages within the castle - they face south, east and north and all three also face in to a central courtyard.
The Old Light
The original lighthouse on the island was built in 1820 on Beacon Hill - the highest point on the island. It is now no longer used as there are two new lighthouses (appropriately named the North Light and the South Light), but you can still go up to the top (if you don't mind heights) and take a look at the view over the island. You can even stay in one of the two properties there.
Most of the properties are situated in the south of the island, but the Lookout is over a mile away - more than halfway up the island! This property has no electricity, so it is only for the very brave!
At a complete contrast to the Admiralty Lookout is Millcombe House. The most elegant and stylish house on the island (and the biggest), it looks down over a wooded valley out to sea. Apparently, one of Martin Harman's (Harman bought Lundy in 1925) special Lundy pleasures was the possibility of shooting rabbits from his bedroom window!
For those who can't quite afford the luxury of Millcombe House, there is also a campsite.
As previously mentioned, the hub of the island lies in the south. Most of the accommodation is located here, and there are a few other important buildings such as:
The Marisco Tavern
The island pub - a place to eat, drink, chat, find out what activities are planned, what the weather will be like, when the high and low tides will be or to make a note in one of the many log books. The food is good and quite often uses island produce such as lamb and fish. The prices are reasonable enough to eat there every evening if you so wish.
The Island Shop
The small shop on the island sells almost everything you could ever want, from everyday essentials to a wide range of Lundy souvenirs. However, if you want fresh bread it is recommended you get there fairly early, otherwise you will have to make do with frozen! It also sells many postcards, several of which feature the famous puffins. You can also buy the special Lundy stamps (which also feature puffins), which, for some inexplicable reason, have to be placed in the top left-hand corner of postcards and the bottom left-hand corner of envelopes!
Yes, Lundy even has its very own church! It was built in the 19th Century and is called St Helena's.
One of the main attractions of Lundy is the fact that there are no cars or roads. Another is the varied landscape - on the west side there are high and rugged cliffs and granite tors known as 'cheeses' (as they look like towers of Cheddar), and on the east side, which is more sheltered, the coastline is gentler, with grassy slopes and more plants and trees. This is what makes the island such a good place for walking - there is so much to see. From seals to caves to plants to sheep to ponds full of carp to bits of history (such as the Battery or the remains of a German Heinkel that crash landed in 1941), Lundy is full of things to see. In addition to wandering around the island at your own leisure, you can take one of the warden-organised guided walks concerning a specific aspect of the island (eg the plants or the history).
Like the famous letterboxing on Dartmoor, you are given a sheet of paper with several clues to follow. These clues lead to the location of boxes that contain a rubber stamp and an ink pad. When you find the box you stamp the stamp in your notebook and, if you have one, you can stamp your own stamp in the box's book. The idea is to collect them all, but some are very difficult to find! You can also take several stamped, addressed postcards with you. When you find a box, you put your postcard in and take out the one that is already in there. You then write a little message on the postcard to say who you are, the date... and post it. With any luck, you will be receiving lots of Lundy postcards yourself in a few weeks (or months, depending on how hard the box was to find, or possibly, how well you hid it).
This is a popular activity on the island, as Lundy is famous for its puffins. In fact, Lund-ey is Norse for 'Puffin Island'. About 35 species breed on the island every year, and 280 different species have been seen.
There is plenty of good rock-climbing on the island. The best climbing is to be found on the west coast, which is home to the most famous climb on the island, the Devil's Slide. You can also climb in the Devil's Limekiln, a big blow hole2 that is generally very, very scary-looking!
There are many shipwrecks around Lundy that can be visited by divers. The seas are also rich with marine life and corals. If you want to see these but are not a diver, the Warden organises snorkeling sessions. If you are very lucky you may even get to swim with a seal named Sammy!
The island is a great place for children and adults alike to visit, and many people return again and again!
For more information, or to order a brochure or book online, visit lundyisland.co.uk