It was early (05.30hrs or some such) when the trip began in earnest (or was it Ipswich?). An uneventful journey meant the relaxing began with time for a wander and an ice cream in sunny Barnstaple. We were full of chatter with great plans and long tick lists of route upon route.
The island’s reputation had been hyped for many of my 11 years in the IMC and I had been looking forward to my inaugural visit for at least 2 of those many. I only hoped that I wouldn’t be disappointed.
As a first-timer, the island begins to get under your skin as the MS Oldenburg approaches the small grey/green ‘blob’
|Figure 1. Approaching Lundy (click on any image to view in Flickr)|
and starts to tantalise with silhouettes appearing on the top and the cliff; features gradually showing themselves – and this is only the quiet East side!
|Figure 2. Approaching Lundy 2|
It continues to wheedle its way deeper and deeper into your psyche as you walk up the cliff side to the collection of beautiful stone buildings perched on one corner of the plateau, passing the magnificent Millcombe House with its inverted roof for the collection of rain water designed by those pioneering chaps of the early C19.
|Figure 3. Millcombe House|
You may be only 11 miles off the coast of mainland Britain, but you don’t have to be on
the island for long to make it feel like 1,100. No papers, no television, no radio in the
barn. Some were able to stay in touch with the outside world by the use of natty hand
held devices, but didn’t impose their findings out loud to the occupants of The Barn, so
one could choose to remain blissfully ‘out of touch’ if that was your preference (which
was mine and Christina’s – we were switched off, man!)
Apart from those used by the Landmark Trust employees and farmers no additional
vehicles or dogs are allowed, and the Landmark Trust limit the number of people on the island at
any one time. There is no need for cash money as the tills in the shop and pub are linked
so just a single settlement is required before you leave – like a large open plan
Oh, and there is climbing a-plenty ranging from V Diff to E silly. If you want a list
of climbs, look in the guide book or go to a website such as http://www.climbers-club.co.uk/guidebooks/lundy.html or, better still,
visit the island yourself. This article is not a diary of my week spent there – how
boring would that be!?
But with such atmospheric places to practice our skill and art as …
The Devil’s Slide
|Figure 4. Looking up the Devil’s Slide||Figure 5. Starting the Devil’s Slide|
|Figure 6. Shade in Tha Battery||Figure 7. The Flying Buttress|
|Figure 8. Sunset Promontory|
|Figure 9. Arch Zawn||Figure 10. Ian and Christina on Frontspiece|
… who could possibly not want to climb there?
But, its appeal extends way beyond the climbed cliffs and far deeper than the dived wrecks lying off its rugged, boulder-strewn coast line.
All too quickly the week is over and it’s all aboard MS Oldenburg for the return crossing back to the hustle and bustle of kiss-me-quick hats and crowds of sun-burnt grokels after being allowed by this wonderful place to share a few days of its geological existence. There’s a lot less chatter this time. Admittedly it’s blowing a hooly and the shallow drafted Oldenburg is a-pitching and a-rolling like a pitching and rolling thing (witness Alex “6 bags” Harper!), but somehow I can’t help thinking the lack of chit-chat is in part attributable to the sadness of leaving – or is that just romantic twaddle?
You may feel – and justifiably so – that one is waxing lyrical over a lump of rock. Knowing that it would take a more competent wordsmith than myself to do adequate justice to this fragment of pink granite peeking its ancient head just above the surface of the water, I can only apologise for my lack of literary skills.
It truly is a magical
and relaxing place
|Figure 12. Relaxed|
- .. did it disappoint? Most definitely not
- .. did it live up to the hype? Oh, yes
- .. will I return? You bet ya! We were among the front runners when Martin Hore manfully stepped forward to organise the 2009 trip. It won’t matter if the same routes are climbed then as were in 2006; each route has a unique and special feel that is worth savouring time and again.