Visit Lundy Island
Lundy Island is one of North Devon’s most charming attractions, and certainly its most remote. This coastal nature reserve is more than just a refuge for endangered wildlife; it’s the ideal stop for visitors to Ilfracombe to take a load off, unwind and immerse themselves in the beauty of seaside nature. It is also reachable at almost anytime of the year, which makes it attractive to serious and informal nature lovers.
The History of Lundy Island
Visiting Lundy Island lets you immerse yourself in a proud (and interesting) history. Once home to Vikings and a port for Barbary pirates, Lundy Island gets its name from the Puffins that dwell there. ‘Lundy’ translates to ‘Puffin’, hence the full translation of ‘Puffin Island’. King Charles I also claimed this island as an outpost at one time, but Lundy Island’s early history is mostly that of piracy and smuggling.
One fascinating story from the 18th century includes the rather sinister story of the Sheriff of Devon who diverted both convicts and minerals to the island, when they should have been delivered safely to their proper destination. Its just so happens that the Sheriff was also the local MP for Barnstaple. Our modern MP’s are frequently getting into trouble over expenses and their probity, but insurance swindles and modern slavery haven’t made recent headlines.
After the island was purchased by Gloucestershire businessman William Hudson Heaven in 1834, it moved through a series of owners until finally being purchased by the National Trust and made into a nature reserve for visitors to enjoy. Over the years, more animals have been introduced to the island and have become willing inhabitants that visitors love to see.
Visiting Lundy Island
Small as the island may be, there’s plenty to do on this coastal getaway. Visitors to Lundy Island are encouraged to indulge in every activity there is on Lundy Island, many of which are family-friendly.
You’ll discover the wonder of birdwatching when you visit Lundy Island and take in the scenery, spying on Skylarks, Puffins and Water Rail. Lundy Island boasts over 140 species of birds that flock to the island each year. Birdwatching can be done any time of year, so don’t worry about having to stick to a schedule.
The ocean is an amazing place to explore, but you’ve never really seen it until you’ve been fully submersed in it. Lundy Island trips should all have time for a good diving session in order to explore the vast array of marine life just offshore. An astonishing 2500 species can be found amongst the coral reefs, which are host to all five types of British cup coral. Divers will get a spectacular treat when booking for a guided tour of one of Lundy Island’s many shipwrecks.
If you’re fortunate, you may just get to interact with the island’s Grey Seals. Seals have grown quite accustomed to human visitors in their ocean environment, and many are playful enough to swim directly up to you. However, visitors are not allowed to touch the seals, but rather observe them as they are in their ocean home.
Lundy Island may be a nature reserve, but many areas on the island’s coast allow angling. The condition is that you only keep sustainable catches. In other words, if the fish isn’t the minimum size or bigger according to guidelines, it must be returned. If fishing isn’t your style, but you’d still like to see the different species of fish around the island, you can always book a snorkelling trip for some casual viewing opportunities.
Jagged cliffs and sheer drops on Lundy Island’s coast are the ideal place for climbers to find a challenge. One cliff face is so challenging, in fact, that it’s been named The Devil’s Slide. It consists of a sheer angled slab of cliff that one man was so eager to climb that he did so in a hailstorm. Devil’s Slide is open all year round, but there are over 60 other climbing spots that offer just as much of a challenge to less seasoned climbers.
Every other attraction on Lundy Island must be reached by walking. Don’t worry – Lundy Island has a beautiful landscape that will help you while away the time between monuments, caves and other sights. Wartime relics dot the countryside of Lundy Island, along with inlets, buttresses and the remnants of the old quarry railroad. A unique cabbage plant that’s exclusive to Lundy Island can be found along the way.
Getting to Lundy Island
Being an island there is clearly only two ways to get to Lundy; by sea or air. The latter is made by helicopter but most travellers opt for the two-hour boat ride through the waters of the Bristol Channel. The Island’s ferry is known as the MS Oldenburg, refurbished in 1986 at Appledore and originally built in Germany in 1958. A modest vessel that carries up to 270 passengers on its sun deck, interior lounges with shop and café bar. The helicopter journey of just 7 minutes, is made at times when the Oldenburg is unable to sail (the winter months and in stormy seas at other times).
For the diving and fishing experience, book local private charter boats from Ilfracombe harbour which make the journey to Lundy for some truly spectacular, eventful and memorable days.
But however you choose to visit Lundy Island, you’re sure to find new sights to explore daily.