Lundy Island: England’s Best Kept Secret?

As a lover of travel, I’m forever booking flights to far-flung places and researching the next incredible destinations to visit. But quite often, the remarkable places close to home fly completely under my radar.

This was the case with Lundy Island. I’ve lived in the UK all my life, and in Devon for the last six years. But I only learned about Lundy Island four months ago. In fact, if it wasn’t for my parents, I would still be completely oblivious to its existence.

Lundy Island: England's Best Kept Secret?

Lundy Island is a granite outcrop, three miles long and half a mile wide, just off the coast of North Devon, England. The epitome of the word ‘unspoiled’, Lundy enjoys peace and tranquillity in abundance. In this day and age, it’s almost impossible to get away from the constant hum of traffic. But Lundy Island truly provides respite from the rat race.

Lundy Island: England's Best Kept Secret?

With no roads, vehicles or pollution and only a limited amount of visitors each day, Lundy offers a secure and isolated home to an impressive variety of wildlife. The unique, rugged terrain and wide, open seas provide refuge for dolphins, whales, porpoises, seals, puffins, Sika deer, Highland cattle and ponies, to name just a few. So, whether you’re a lover of landscapes, nature, or both, Lundy Island is the place for you.

Lundy Island: England's Best Kept Secret?

How do you get to Lundy Island?

Lundy Island is only accessible via one boat – the MS Oldenburg. Built in 1958, the MS Oldenburg retains many of her original fixtures and fittings, making the boat trip an experience in itself. The journey to Lundy takes approximately two hours, with up to four scheduled sailings each week from either Ilfracombe or Bideford. 2018 day return tickets cost £38 for adults and £19 for children.

Lundy Island: England's Best Kept Secret?

If you’re lucky enough (as we were!!!), you may even be treated to a friendly pod of dolphins following the ship! It was truly amazing!

One of my favourite things about Lundy? It never feels crowded, due to the fact that the MS Oldenburg only carries 267 people to the island each day.

Lundy Island: England's Best Kept Secret?

How long can you spend on Lundy Island?

Well, it’s up to you. If you’re visiting for a day trip, you get between about four hours to explore the island. But if that’s not long enough, you can book one of the 23 holiday cottages on the island and stay for longer.

Lundy Island: England's Best Kept Secret?

Personally, we found that four hours was nowhere near long enough to see the entire island. We managed to hike about a third of it but it felt rushed at times and it would’ve been great to take our time and really soak it up.

Lundy Island: England's Best Kept Secret?

The island has everything you need for a short stay with a shop, pub, church and well-equipped accommodation. The only thing to note is that there are no TVs, radios or telephones in the cottages, which really forces you to disconnect from the world and connect with your surroundings instead. You can also camp on Lundy if you’re feeling brave, although I was told that the weather can be somewhat unpredictable.

Lundy Island: England's Best Kept Secret?

The good thing about staying overnight? Once the day-trippers have gone home, you have the entire island to yourself.

What is there to do on Lundy Island?

Look out for puffins (and other birds)

The word ‘Lundy’ is Norse for ‘Puffin Island’, so it’s no wonder that thousands of people are keen to catch a glimpse of these magnificent birds each year. Head to Lundy between April and July, while they are nesting, for the best chance. Other birds you can spot include Manx Shearwaters, Razorbills, Guillemots, Water Rails and many more.

Lundy Island: England's Best Kept Secret?

Snorkelling and scuba-diving

When you think of England, I bet you don’t think of scuba-diving! Well, Lundy is about to correct that notion. As one of the British Isles’ prime diving sites, Lundy offers rich and diverse marine life and a bounty of shipwrecks to explore. While scuba-diving on Lundy Island is best suited to experienced divers, the Wardens also run Snorkel Safaris, which last one hour and cost a small £10 (incl cost of equipment hire).

Lundy Island: England's Best Kept Secret?

Hike to your heart’s content

If you love hiking, boy you are in for a treat! While the island is only three miles long, you won’t be able to hike it quickly, purely because the views are so jaw-dropping you’ll have to stop repeatedly to take it all in. Whether the sun shines from wall to wall or you get drenched by rain, I suggest you just go for it. Of course, if you’re visiting Lundy on a day trip, it’s important to be mindful of the distance back to the boat to make sure you’re not left behind!

Lundy Island: England's Best Kept Secret?

Other things to do on Lundy:

  • Climbing – Lundy is a popular destination amongst avid climbers and for good reason. The Devil’s Slide is a particularly common route.
  • Fishing – Lundy promotes sustainable fishing and is home to a wide variety of fish.
  • Enjoy a bite to eat in Lundy’s only pub, the Marisco Tavern.
  • Check out Lundy’s historical buildings and monuments – some of which include the Victorian church, the 13th-century castle and the UK’s tallest lighthouse.

Lundy Island: England's Best Kept Secret?

We had a fantastic day on the island of Lundy. Living such busy lives, spending quality time with your loved ones sometimes gets put on the back-burner. But Lundy allowed us to get back to basics and connect with each other and with nature once again. Fortunately, the weather held out and we were able to explore to our heart’s content.

Thanks to my parents for this fantastic anniversary gift. We loved it and we love you!

Lundy Island: England's Best Kept Secret?

Have you been to Lundy? Would you like to go? What did you love about it?

For more in-depth information on Lundy Island, head to the Landmark Trust’s official website.

This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own. All photographs were taken by, and are the property of, James and Zara Aitken. 

Lundy Island - England's Best Kept Secret

38 thoughts on “Lundy Island: England’s Best Kept Secret?

  1. Like you, I live in England, but rarely take the time to explore the beautiful places on my doorstep (the Welsh border is only 14km from my hometown and Wales is full of incredible landscapes and quaint, historical towns), simply because the flight overseas is normally cheaper than the train fare in England and the accommodation is cheaper too!

    Lundy island looks lovely though, I think my parents took me there as a child. Looks like a fantastic place for those who love the great outdoors (me!), hiking and wildlife 🙂

    1. I completely agree with you. I live in Devon and although we do a bit of hiking locally, we generally travel abroad because as you say, it’s cheaper. The thought of paying three times as much to stay in Cornwall for a week where it might rain constantly just puts me off. Which is a shame because we do live in a beautiful place!

  2. This gave me an awesome idea for a long weekend. I love in London and never heard of this place. Seems like a great destination for me and my boyfriend as we love hiking and wildlife.

  3. I visited Lundy some 30 years ago as part of my degree at Bristol University. I was studying zoology and psychology and HAD to spend a week on Lundy studying the wildlife there. Annoyingly it was the same time as a Queen gig I had tickets for but I did have a great week on Lundy. I’ll never forget a particularly lively night down the pub and also the day I decided to go swimming with the seals. I’d gone on my own and hadn’t told anyone where I was going, I had to slide down some huge rocks to get there. I didn’t have a swimsuit so was stripping off to my undies when a boat of scuba divers came round the corner. Very embarrassing! When I decide to leave it realised that I’d never be able to get back up the rocks I’d come down on. Luckily I found a stream and was able to climb up it. Never did get my swim with the seals – I’d love to go back again.

  4. I really want to go here! I’ve always wanted to see Puffins! And go to Devon. I recently stumbled upon it researching places to visit in Devon but this guide was really useful to know how to get there and what to expect. Thanks!

  5. I find it’s only really when you’re away from home that you appreciate it. After 4 years living in China we made camping and cycling trips around the UK and Netherlands last summer (our homes) and the countryside is absolutely stunning. We’ll definitely be planning more trips like this in the UK and Lundy Island has just jumped to the top of the list, thanks!

  6. I love places like this! I live in Scotland and it’s the tiny island communities that are the most intriguing! I’ll need to make my way to Lundy one day. Spending a week in one of the cottages, away from it all, sounds like my kind of holiday!!

  7. I believe I went here once upon a time when I was really small on a caravan holiday…or maybe I’m getting it confused with Caldy (spelling!) Island?! Either way I think I need to revisit all these places again now I can appreciate them as an adult!!

  8. You can never spend too long on Lundy. We had 4 nights there and it still wasn’t long enough. We had mad weather but the kids loved it. Especially snorkelling with the seals by the jetty!

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