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Escape for the day to Lundy Island

Lundy Island is a little-known island off the north coast of Devon where the Bristol Channel meets the rolling waves of the Atlantic Ocean. Do something different and escape to Lundy Island for a day.
Lundy Island is a forgotten corner of the UK and provides a delightful day trip for those staying in North Devon. Measuring just 3½ miles long and ½ mile wide, the island has around 28 residents including the warden, ranger, island manager and farm workers. This rocky outpost once had its own coinage and the island’s Post Office still has its own Lundy Island stamps!

The word “Lundy” is Norse for “Puffin” and for many years this remote island was home to a huge colony of puffins. In recent years, an invasion of rats almost wiped out the black and white birds with their distinctive striped orange beaks. Numbers fell from over 3,500 breeding pairs to just 10 by the year 2000 as the rats ravaged the nests and fed on the puffin eggs and young chicks. The RSPB, in conjunction with the Landmark Trust, reported the cull of the rats has seen puffin numbers steadily on the increase in more recent years.

Things to do on Lundy Island

As well as being an important bird sanctuary, Lundy Island is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest and Britain’s only Marine Nature Reserve, so it is well worth a visit for bird watchers and nature lovers. You can even go on a snorkeling safari to see the corals and local marine life by paying a nominal fee to cover equipment hire.

Back onshore, visitors can enjoy a guided nature-spotting walk or a rock pool ramble in the Devil’s Kitchen with the Island Warden, all free of charge. Go diving, climbing, fishing, birdwatching or indulge in photographing or painting the flora and fauna in this wild landscape. History lovers can seek out the Bronze Age burial mounds, medieval monastery and the four inscribed gravestones on the island.

You are sure to see Atlantic grey seals basking on the rocks or bobbing in the water. Lundy ponies, feral goats and sika deer keep the grassy neatly shorn and a variety of gulls and rare Manx shearwaters populate this craggy island.

Lundy Island is owned by the National Trust and leased to the Landmark Trust who operate it as a working farm. There is a pub, a shop, church, the 13th century Marisco Castle, an Admiralty lookout and an old lighthouse, now converted into accommodation. There are no tarmacked roads and the electricity is actually made by a generator.

Getting to Lundy Island

The MV Oldenburg only runs in summer when seas are relatively calm. It is a traditional ship with plenty of polished brass and varnished wood, capable of carrying 267 passengers. The crossing takes a couple of hours and passengers can stay cosy in the wood-panelled saloon or hang out on deck and view the assorted supplies and cargo being delivered by this supply boat to the hardy islanders. There is a bar, hot and cold buffet, onboard shop and an information centre for pleasantly passing the time.

Visiting Lundy Island is an experience you will never forget. Unlike anywhere else, it is a sanctuary of peace, a haven for wildlife and an amazing experience. Day return tickets for adults in 2012 are £34.50 and a family ticket for two adults and two children is a steal at £80. The helicopter costs £102 for adults and £53.50 for children. Discounts are available for seniors, students and National Trust members.

About Gillian Birch

Born in Cheshire, Gillian Birch moved to Cornwall at her earliest opportunity and never looked back. After 20 years, her ongoing discovery of popular attractions, quiet footpaths and local eateries has made her a fount of knowledge as she entertains readers with her informative articles on the hidden gems of Devon & Cornwall from a local point-of-view.

Find Gillian on Google+, and Twitter.

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