Lundy is an island in the Bristol Channel, lying only 18 kilometres from mainland Devon. It is just five and a half kilometres long and less than a kilometre wide, and has been designated England's first Marine Nature Reserve. A visit to the island is a unique and worthwhile experience. When people see an island in the distance, they usually want to land on it. What can they find on Lundy Island? A place of outstanding natural beauty. Skies full of birds. Pirate haunts. Air like wine. A medieval castle. seals. Special Lundy stamps. Three lighthouses. Black rabbits. Rocks like great cheeses. Undersea marvels. Climbers' cliffs. Cannons. Peace and quiet. Lundy ponies. standing stones. wildlife. A smuggler's cave. Earthquake cracks. And the lovable puffin. "Lund-ey" is Norse for puffin island.
This remote island is a natural fortress, with a tempestuous history as a pirate lair. It became prosperous and respectable in the last century, even gaining a church. The dramatic Old Lighthouse, the 13th century castle and other fascinating buildings now provide holiday accommodation. Marisco Tavern is the heart of the island - a place of friendliness, fine food and perpetual shelter. Lundy Island is the site of 137 shipwrecks, and the evidence of a dramatic past is all around. Close by is the Lundy shop, where you can buy anything from souvenirs to provisions for your picnic.
Lundy is an island in the Bristol Channel of Great Britain, administered as part of Torridge district Devon. It lies about a third of the way from the coast of Devon to that of South Wales. It is about 4.5 km long from north to south by 1 km wide, with an area of 4.24 km², and is the largest island in the Bristol Channel. Its coordinates are 51.18°N, 4.67°W. Lundy gives its name to one of the British Sea Areas and is England's only statutory Marine Nature Reserve. It has a resident population of 18 people (2006 estimate), almost all of whom live and work in the village on the south of the island.
In a 2005 opinion poll of Radio Times readers, Lundy was named as the 10th greatest natural wonder in Britain. It has increasingly become a popular tourist destination. Day-tripping is most popular, although tourists can spend several nights on the island in holiday cottages, almost all at the south end of the island.
Lundy maps don't mark viewpoints. All the coast is spectacular. For the most breathtaking landscape, go from the church to the island's west side. You walk on flat springy turf, but still see dramatic sights. The track, on from the village street, leads to the central plateau. Wear trainers, walking shoes or boots for comfort. Walk round the south end for solitude, along the east side for its plants.
A unique and unspoilt island, undisturbed by cars and home to a fascinating array of wildlife amidst dramatic scenery. There is a small village with an inn and Victorian church, and nearby the 13th-century Marisco Castle keeps guard. A day trip to Lundy Island is also a cruise, a chance to enjoy the beautiful North Devon coast. Lundy's own ship, the MS Oldenburg, is a sizeable vessel, carrying 267 passengers, and providing bar, buffet, shop and information centre. Fascinating island guides and leaflets are available to help you explore. From either Ilfracombe or Bideford, the voyage takes under 2 hours. Landing on the jetty, you walk up the cliff road from the beach, and the island awaits. The Island is supported by the work of the Lundy Field Society
The MS Oldenburg carries daytrip and staying passengers to Lundy from March to November. November to March you can fly by helicopter to this unique destination for winter breaks. Departures are Monday and Friday from Hartland Point.
An unspoilt Island 10 miles off Baggy Point where the Bristol Channel meets the Atlantic. 3 miles long and half a mile wide. No Cars. Ideal place to escape for the day. The Island is a natural fortress with a tempestous history as a pirate lair. There is now a small community. Marisco Tavern is the heart of the island and serves Lundy's own beer as well as fine food and perpetual shelter. Also a medieval castle and 3 lighthouses. A place of outstanding natural beauty and wildlife. (Lund-ey is Norse for puffin island). The ferry ship MS Oldenburg does day trips to Lundy from both Ilfracombe and Bideford. It is also possible to stay on Lundy. sailing times, fares and prices are available from the Islands' website www.lundyisland.co.uk or telephone Lundy shore office (01237)470422 for details of sailings and accommodation. NOTE: pets are not allowed to visit the island.
Lundy has a small shingled beach in the heart of a peaceful harbour. It is a great location for fishing and snokelling.
Beach Type: Stony - Dogs: No dogs permitted
Lundy Sales Office, Bideford/llfracombe Ferry trips to Lundy, an island of outstanding natural beauty
Exmoor Coast Boat Trips, Lynmouth Regular scenic Boat trips along the coast from Lynmouth harbour
The sea around Lundy is designated as a 'fishing no-take' area. This is a trial in which th area was not fished to see what the effect there was if fishing was stopped. The results have been very encoraging and the rate at which sea creatures resestablished themselves was faster than expected. Children love the farm. sheep which were once bottle fed see people as friends. All domestic animals are free range, and visitors can wander at will, so long as gates are shut. Everyone can find a favourite amongst the chickens, ducks, lambs and ponies. There was a Castle here from some time very early on, although only its site remains. This original Castle was built by the Marisco family who were notorious pirates.
William de Marisco was implicated in a plot to kill Henry III, and a force was despatched to take the island. This happened in 1242 and William was removed to London and hanged. To avoid a repetition of events Henry had a small Castle built at the southern end of the Island, and this is what remains today. It was an antiquated design for its time, being a basic square keep - but in this remote spot it was quite enough. During the Civil War it was garrisoned by a Royalist band, but no siege ever occurred. The Island of Lundy is owned by the National Trust and a good many of the properties there, including the Castle, are leased to The Landmark Trust who rent them as holiday homes.
Lundy has evidence of visitation or occupation from the Neolithic period onward, with Mesolithic flintwork, Bronze Age burial mounds, four inscribed gravestones from the early medieval period in the area where the Church dedicated to St Elen once stood, and an early medieval monastery (possibly dedicated to St Elen or St Helen).
Evidence that the Knights Templar were given the island of Lundy is sparse but clearly documented. When the Templars were first given the island is uncertain but it would seem that as they were a major maritime force in the reign of Henry II (1154-1189), he gave them Lundy as an English port of refuge. Whether they took possession of the island is questionable, though the Order did have economic interests in north Devon and may well have been given the island as an alternative to the Taw river landings leading to Barnstaple. It has been speculated that one of the reasons for the king's generosity was that the Norsemen were troubling Scotland and may have posed a threat to more southern waters. It is known that William de Marisco was fined (circa 1195) for retaining the island of Lundy against the wishes of King Henry and against the rights of the Knights Templar.
In 1235, William de Marisco, implicated in the plot to murder Henry II, fled to the island where he lived as a virtual king. He fortified the only landing place on its coastline and defended it against all comers other than pirates and outlaws who flocked there for his protection. He built a stronghold behind the present generator sheds with nine-foot (2.74 m) thick walls that safeguarded him and his 'subjects' for seventeen years. Eventually he and sixteen of his close followers were captured and tried. Lundy was seized by the Royal forces and Marisco was hanged, drawn and quartered. In 1242, the King built the Castle (sometimes erroneously referred to as the Marisco Castle) in an attempt to establish the rule of Law on the Island and its surrounding waters.
There followed a period of anarchy on the island with English and foreign pirates and privateers (including more members of the Marisco family) taking control of the island for short periods, causing shipping traffic to avoid the Bristol Channel whenever possible. Further evidence of the Templars' weak hold on the island comes ten years after the death of Henry II in the year of the death of King Richard I, Henry's eldest son, who had succeeded him. King John, Richard's youngest brother, began his reign in 1199, ignoring the claims of his young nephew, Prince Arthur. In an effort to ensure the Templars' rights on Lundy, John confirmed the earlier grant made by King Henry (II?) in the following form:
"Deed concerning King John and the island of Lundy - I John by the Grace of God &c you may know we confer and present by our confirmation by these presents our confirmation in perpetuity to God and to the brothers of the military service of the temple of Jerusalem, the island of Lundy … off the mouth of the river between Tinbeth and Barnstaple in what way how and by which means we wish and confirm to the Master of the brothers of the Temple that same island that they may have and hold completely and freely in continuous freedom and peace for free usage and with all liberties, habits, customs, usage and ways as of the late King Henry. Witness Walter Rothman Given by our hand of in the presence of Archbishop of Canterbury in year one of our reign."
At this time, John also recompensated the Templars for the past lack of income from Lundy by granting them the revenues of the Marisco family in Somerset. It is uncertain whether the Templars used the island at all, because in 1213 the English treasury paid the Order £10 in respect of the island. Whether this was recompense for not being able to use it or a fee agreed for the Templars to nominally hold it in the name of the Order is unclear. What is certain is that by the time of King Henry III, the son of King John (ruled 1216–1272) they were given 100 shillings by the king in lieu of and in full recompense for the island. The Order's connection with Lundy seems to have been severed at this time.
In 1627 Barbary pirates from Algiers under the Flemish renegade Murat Reis the Younger captured Lundy. For the next 5 years the island served as a base for operations in the Atlantic Ocean by both the corsairs and the Ottoman navy. Thomas Bushell held Lundy for King Charles I. He was a friend of Francis Bacon, a strong supporter of the Royalist cause during the Civil War and an expert on mining and coining. It has even been argued that during his stay on Lundy Bushnell produced coinage for King Charles I; however definitive proof has not been found and it remains speculation. Significantly, this was the last part of the Royalist lands to capitulate to the victorious Parliament, and only after a year-long siege. Richard Fiennes, representing General Fairfax received the surrender. Bushell had rebuilt Marisco Castle and garrisoned the island at his own expense.
The late 18th and early 19th centuries were years of lawlessness on Lundy, particularly during the ownership of Benson, an MP who notoriously used the island for housing convicts who he was supposed to be deporting. Piracy was rife during this period. From the 1830s however, an air of respectability descended on Lundy. It was purchased in 1836 by William Hudson Heaven, younger brother of Cam Gyde Heaven, the son of an old Gloucestershire and Bristol family, as a summer retreat and for shooting. Many of the buildings on the island today, including St. Helena's Church and Millcombe House (originally known simply as The Villa) date from the Heaven period.
The Villa, a well-proportioned house in the Georgian style, was built in the late 1830s. However, the expense of building the road from the beach (no financial assistance being provided by Trinity House, despite their regular use of the road following its construction), the Villa, and the general cost of running the island had a ruinous effect on the family's finances. Coupled with the collapse in the sugar market (much of William Heaven's income came from his sugar plantations in Jamaica), the family was obliged the make the island its principal home from the early 1840s.
William Heaven retained some property on the mainland in order to continue to qualify to vote. Known as 'The Squire' he defended Lundy's extra-territorial privileges vigorously, and this defence included the insistence that his qualification to vote did not rest on his ownership of the Lundy property, but of mainland property. Not surprisingly the island became known as the 'Kingdom of Heaven'.
William Heaven was succeeded by his son the Reverend Hudson Grosset Heaven who, thanks to a legacy from Sarah Langworthy (née Heaven), was able to fulfil his life's ambition of building a stone church on the island - St Helena's was completed in 1896, and stands today as a lasting memorial to the Heaven period. He is said to have able to afford a church or a new harbour. His choice of the church was not however in the best financial interests of the island. It came at a heavy price. Rather than using the money to re-establish the family's finances on a sound footing, and coupled with some disastrous investments and speculations in the early 20th century, the financial situation deteriorated seriously.
Hudson Heaven died in 1916, and was succeeded by his nephew, Walter Charles Hudson Heaven. With the outbreak of World War I, matters deteriorated seriously and, in 1918, the family was forced to sell the island, receiving less for it than the accumulated debts and mortgages. Bankruptcy ensued, and Walter emigrated to Australia, a broken man.
His sister, Marion Cecilia Harley Heaven married her cousin Dr John Cookesley Heaven. She and her daughter Eileen Heaven retained a close interest in the Island throughout their lives, Eileen dying in 1983. Her cousin, Richard John Gyde Heaven, and his children and grandchildren have also continued to be regular visitors to the Island. The Christie family owned the island for just a few years before selling it in 1924 to Martin Coles Harman. The main residence was modelled on a Burmese Tea Plantation dwelling, with a partly convex roof to catch the rain as the water courses on the island are prone to contamination due to the stock grazing on the island. Martin Coles Harman bought the island of Lundy, the mail contract, as well as the MV Lerina, in October of 1924 after which he proclaimed himself a "king". Harman also issued two coins of Half Puffin and One Puffin value in 1929, nominally equivalent to the British Halfpenny and Penny. It was this coinage that landed him in trouble. The House of Lords, in 1931, found him in violation of the United Kingdom's 1870 Coinage Act (1870). He was fined five pounds and fifteen guineas expenses. The 'coins' were withdrawn and became collectors' items. In 1965 a 'fantasy' restrike four coin set, a few in gold, was issued to commemorate 40 years since Harman purchased the island. He died in 1954. Residents did not pay taxes to the United Kingdom and had to pass through customs when they travelled to and from Lundy Island.
Following the death of Harman's son Albion in 1968, Lundy was put up for sale in 1969 and Jack Hayward, a British millionaire purchased the island for £150,000 and gave it to the National Trust, who leased it to the Landmark Trust, which manages the island, including holiday rental properties for income to maintain the island. Although the island was ruled as a virtual fiefdom, its owner never claimed to be independent of the United Kingdom, so this differed from later territorial 'micronations'.
A rocky island is always hazardous for shipping, the increasing incidence of wrecks around Lundy's shores led in 1819 to the construction of a lighthouse, now known as the 'Old Light', on top of Beacon Hill Sadly, the lantern was not visible to ships in foggy weather when it was most needed.
As an "interim" solution, the Fog Signal Station was built on the west coast cliffs in 1861-2. The ruined signal station complex comprises the remains of two semi-detached cottages for the Trinity House families, with their latrines and a gunpowder store. Further down again is the battery building, where the guns were housed. During foggy weather the booming guns would warn ships away from the cliffs. Eventually, in 1896-7. Trinity House built new lighthouses at either end of the island, nearer to sea level. Old Light and the battery were abandoned.
Lloyds Signal Station
In 1884 a Lloyds Signal Station was set up at the castle to inform Lloyds of ships stranded in the Lundy Roads during bad weather. Two new cottages (now demolished) housed the signalmen. The Admiralty later took over the signal station and in 1909 built the Lookout on top of Tibbett's Hill and two further cottages to the south of the Signal Cottages (also now demolished).
Bombers and gliders - The Second World War on Lundy
Long narrow trenches found across the island are anti-aircraft trenches dug in the summer of 1940. when the threat of German invasion was very real. No enemy invasion took place but two German Heinkel III's and a British Whitley bomber all crash-landed on the island during 1941.
Mr Martin Coles Harman bought Lundy in 1925. Many of the elements for which Lundy is now known were enthusiasms of his. He introduced Lundy coins and stamps and was the founder of The Lundy Field Society. He was also interested in introducing new species to the island such as the Soay sheep and Sika deer and he developed the new breed of Lundy pony. The island continued in the Harman family until 1969 when it was acquired by The National Trust and leased to The Landmark Trust, who gradually renovated and modified the dilapidated buildings for use as accommodation for visitors and staff. Over the years many changes have taken place, some quite radical, including the construction of the jetty in 2000, transforming the method of landing on the island. Nevertheless, the special qualities and atmosphere unique to Lundy survive.
Lundy has a rich and fascinating history, reflected in the landscape all around us. In the 1990s, the National Trust undertook a detailed archaeological survey, mapping and describing all visible features. Over 41 individual sites and areas are now legally protected as Scheduled Monuments. Other designations such as the Marine Nature Reserve and the Site of Special Scientific Interest help in protecting and managing the special natural and cultural aspects of Lundy. Despite protection, Lundy is still vulnerable to threats such as visitor pressure, activities of special interest groups, accidental damage and agricultural practice. To minimise these threats the site is carefully managed under schemes such as the government funded Countryside Stewardship Scheme. New areas of research and methods of conservation are being explored. By these means it is hoped that Lundy's unique qualities will survive into the future.
The island of Lundy, off the north Devon coast, is a predominantly granite rock rising steeply out of the Atlantic Ocean. Its waters are warmed by south western currents, supporting an amazing diversity of marine life with many species being more typical of the Mediterranean region. Lundy is England's only statutory Marine Nature Reserve. Lundy is also home to one of the largest seabird colonies in the south west and is an important stop off point for migrating birds. Above the water, you will find a variety of coastal habitats with rare lichens, ferns and other plants including the unique Lundy cabbage.
The majority of Lundy Island is protected nationally as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), whilst the shore and seas around Lundy are a Marine Nature Reserve and recognised internationally as a candidate Special Area of Conservation (CSAC). Wildlife on and around Lundy is managed by the Landmark Trust working with English Nature, The National Trust (the island owner) and a management committee. Monitoring the condition of Lundy's environment is ongoing and there is much still to learn about interactions between nature and its environment. Work is continuing to minimise human impacts to enhance this fragile environment.
The No Take Zone (NTZ) was established to further the protection of marine wildlife within the most sensitive part of the Marine Nature Reserve. Lundy is the first statutory NTZ in the UK for nature conservation purposes. No sea life of any kind including lobster, crabs and fish can be taken from this area. It is hoped that the monitoring programme will show long term benefits including enhancement of fish and shellfish stocks within and around the reserve. Similar zones around the world have worked to protect and enhance marine wildlife whilst contributing to more sustainable fisheries.
Anchor symbol = Recommended anchorages.
In the Landing Bay please allow clear access for the ferry
Red = No Take Zone -
No fishing or collection of sea life of any kind*
No anchors or diver shotlines within 100m of the Knoll Pins
Yellow = Refuge Zone -
No fishing except potting or angling
Green = Recreational Zone -
Restrictions as for Refuge zone but be aware of other water users
Black = Archaeological Protection Zone -
No diving or fishing allowed (without a licence)
Blue = General Use Zone -
No spearfishing. All other activities allowed
The No Take Zone stretches north to Lat 51 12.04N. south to Lat 51 10.07N and east
Seabirds - Razorbills, guillemots, kittewakes, manx shearwaters and puffins only come ashore to breed. The west coast cliffs are the best place to spot seabirds perched above the crashing waves.
Sheep, goats and Sika deer
Aside from the domestic sheep and thousands of rabbits, Lundy is home to wild ponies, Soay sheep, goats and deer. The deer are most commonly seen at sunrise or sunset.
This cabbage and its resident beetle are found nowhere else in the world. It blooms yellow in May and June and is found on the east side of the island.
A multicoloured underwater garden covers the rocky ledges and pinnacles - with sunset cup corals, pink sea fans and sponges. The island has all five species of cup coral found around the UK.
Some fish like this stunning cuckoo wrasse are here all year round - and the) change from female to male as they get older! Basking sharks, the second largesl fish in the world, are summer visitors.
Lose yourself in the array of marine life to be found in the rockpools. Around Rat Island is an excellent place for rock pool rambles - why not accompany the warden!
Golden Hair Lichen
Just like an orange brillo pad! - this lichen thrives on clean air. Lundy has more of this lichen than anywhere else in the world.
Exposure to the full blast of the Atlantic winds, means the heather on Lundy takes an unusual form. It flowers throughout August.
You can't miss these inquisitive residents - they often investigate snorkellers. But be careful; they are wild animals.
Billowing in the shallow water, these underwater forests survive even the strongest storms. A variety of other creatures and seaweeds live under the canopy.
- The Scuba Diver's Guide to Lundy
- Lundy an Island to Treasure (video)
- The Archaeology and landscape of Lundy
- On the Lundy island and English Nature websites (see below)
- Virtual underwater tour of marine life on Lundy
- Lundy Primary and Secondary Education packs
- Scientific and educational groups are welcome but please obtain a permit from the warden before visiting.
Lundy WardenThe Landmark Trust Lundy Island Bristol Channel North Devon EX39 2LY 01237 431831 www.lundyisland.co.uk
Some of the rocks that make up Lundy began to form 380 million years ago when shallow marine muds were laid down and then compressed and heated to form slates. These 'Morte Slates' crop out in the extreme south-east of the island near the quay. However, most of Lundy is composed of granite, though not the same 280 million year old granite seen at Dartmoor. Instead it is a mere 60 million years old. It was injected into the Morte Slates during a period of volcanic activity connected with the opening of the Atlantic Ocean.
Unlike mainland Devon, Lundy was covered by glaciers during the Ice Age and this had a profound effect upon the shape of the island. It originally took the form of a cone but the ice decapitated this, leaving the flat topped island we see today.
- Lundy Field Society
- Pete Robsons Lundy Island Site
- Lundy stamps
- Lundy (DMOZ.org)
- Satellite view of Lundy
Contributed by: Freda Jones.