Would you like to know what the world was like before people polluted the planet? Before suburbs and highways and industrial centres ruled the land? A time when nature didn’t need to be reserved? If your answer is yes, then read on.
Lundy is an island that not many people have heard of. It resides 12 miles off the coast of Devon, England, and has a staggeringly low population of 28 people. However, do not be fooled by the distinct lack of life – Lundy is a beautiful (if not deserted) island of surprises, and well worth a visit if you enjoy unspoilt landscapes and solitude
Intrepid nature freaks can catch a ferry to the island
to explore acres of wilderness. This place brags a plethora of unusual mammals and birds, including wild ponies, seals, sika deer and even puffins (if you’re lucky). The surrounding oceans boast many a marine rarity, from coral to lobster. In fact, they’re in such abundance that the island has become Britain’s first Marine Conservation Zone
, providing marine biologists with a prime location for research. Put simply, Lundy is one of the only places in the UK where animals vastly outnumber people.
However, if bird-watching isn’t your thing, there’s still plenty of exploring to be had. The late 18th and early 19th centuries were years of lawlessness in Lundy, when the island housed convicts that were supposed to be deported to Australia. As such, it has a fascinating history and some of the meanest architecture this side of the Atlantic. Lundy was declared a “free island” in 1834 – due to the anarchical “anything goes” attitude – and was known for years as “the Kingdom of Heaven.” Pirates, swindlers, crooks and cronies ruled the abandoned lands and it wasn’t until 1969, when a billionaire bought the island and sold it to the National Trust, that it had any semblance of purpose or order. Until then, ownership consistently changed hands and many a ship was wrecked off of the port-less shores. However, since the National Trust leased it to the Landmark Trust, it has finally become a viable tourist destination – with over 2,000 visitors a year.
According to the people in charge, visitors return time and time again to experience the back-to-basics pleasures that Lundy affords; the sea is clean, the landscape untouched and at night, without any street lights, the darkness opens up the wide mouth of space and you can literally see stars for miles.
If wildlife, astronomy and historical turmoil aren’t your bag either, then perhaps the accommodation will sway you. Lundy only has 23 holiday homes, but wow, what incredible places they are. You can rent the castle keep that was all but ruinous until the 1850s or you can lodge in a lighthouse. Locals say that Lundy is “the sort of place where you can wander around in your pyjamas collecting mushrooms for breakfast,” so nosey neighbours and the violent shrill of traffic will not be an issue.
In essence, Lundy represents a form of life long forgotten in the Western world. In that way, it’s a contradiction because when you’re surrounded by the islands rambling hills and breathing the purity of the sea air, it’s hard to believe you’re still in Great Britain, let alone the 21st century.