Lundy Island is just off the coast of North Devon – about two hours away by ferry – and is one of the most charming and the most wild places I have visited for quite some time. Andrew and I took a couple of days’ break there just after we moved house, at the beginning of July, and returned with tanned skin, beautiful memories and refreshed spirits 🙂
Islands like Lundy are always going to have a unique charm: as soon as you approach on the boat, with the breeze on your face and the purple tinged cliffs ahead, images of smugglers caves, rugged farming and adventure stories spring to mind.
Our little ‘home’ for the holiday was in Castle Keep, and I immediately fell in love with the cosy living area, shelves full of books and the guest log book, where visitors from near and far had recorded their walks, nature sightings, weather and all kinds of other notes.
The three days consisted of tea and cake, naps, reading, eating and walking.
The best walk was undoubtedly on Day 2, when we set out along the coastline with a picnic. The weather was beautifully sunny with a very strong wind, and I loved that all day I could hear the sound of the sea. We walked up and down the coast path, taking in a couple of the old buildings. As the morning wore on, we rounded a corner and spotted seals in the bay below, who were enjoying the shelter there and gazing up at the sun. A bit further around, we glimpsed more and managed to clamber down to a rocky outcrop closer to the bay, where we watched them for ages, trying to get photos. We ate our lunch down there: despite the relentless wind, it was warm and sunny, and it felt like such a treat to be so close to the seals as well as seabirds with their young. It was so quiet, apart from the waves, the wind and the gulls. Time slowed.
After climbing up higher, above our picnic spot, we found that we were actually three quarters of the way around the island with the rugged, wilder end of it in full sight. Feeling rather adventurous, we headed across to the North-western tip and looked out to the Atlantic, where it felt even wilder and windier than it had down by the bay. Gulls wheeled and goats and ponies wandered across the landscape. Being witness to the strength and size of the untamed ocean from that small spot was awe-inspiring, and gave me a strange sense of respect for the little piece of land that is Lundy.
The rest of the walk followed the opposite coast to that on which we started and led us back across a field of cows to the lighthouse we had discovered the previous day, which had deckchairs at the top and had been the scene of a dramatic (ish!) bird rescue by us and a member of the Lundy team.
The Tavern at Lundy is full of interesting ship memorabilia and serves great cider and good food. Their mashed potato was amazing! One evening, we followed up dinner with a walk along the cliff and spotted a deer; on another we headed back to Castle Keep and set up our deckchairs looking out to sea.
On our final morning, we repeated another walk we had done, starting from our little place in Castle Keep and heading along the West Coast. As we looked out to some rocks, Andrew told me a story he had read about a ship that had been wrecked there. The vessel had ended up on the rocks and the Admiral’s advisors tried all sorts of bizarre methods for recovering it, including filling it with corks to make it float. They also attached a rope ladder from the cliff to one rock, and from there to the ship, which people had to carry cargo across. You can still make out the steps they carved into the rock to do this.
Our stay was memorable, and now everytime I look out from the coastline and see the Island in the distance I try to make out the little castle on the Southern tip of the island, and feel strangely possessive of it.
I hope we’ll go back soon…