There are fewer than twenty full-time residents on Lundy, a tiny windswept island twelve miles north of Hartland Point. Now a refuge for thousands of marine birds, Lundy has no cars, just one pub and one shop – indeed little has changed since the Marisco family established itself here in the twelfth century, making use of the shingle beaches and coves to terrorize shipping along the Bristol Channel. The family’s fortunes only fell in 1242 when one of their number, William de Marisco, was found to be plotting against the king, whereupon he was hung, drawn and quartered at Tower Hill in London. The castle erected by Henry III on Lundy’s southern end dates from this time.
Today the island is managed by the Landmark Trust. Unless you’re on a specially arranged diving or climbing expedition, walking along the interweaving tracks and footpaths is really the only thing to do here. The shores – mainly cliffy on the west, softer and undulating on the east – shelter a rich variety of birdlife, including kittiwakes, fulmars, shags and Manx shearwaters, which often nest in rabbit burrows. The most famous birds, though, are the puffins after which Lundy is named – from the Norse Lunde (puffin) and ey (island). They can only be sighted in April and May, when they come ashore to mate. Offshore, grey seals can be seen all the year round.