I very rarely write tips about things I have not done as I think they are not really relevant, but in this case I am going to make an exception. On Lundy, you effectively have two options for somewhere to stay. You can either lay your head down in one of the excellent holiday lets offered by the Lundy Island Company aka Landmark Trust which range from a one bed place in the old radio room up to large buildings that will sleep twelve people. For what and where they are they are certainly not overpriced especially outside high season, but you may be on a budget that does not run to that and so I offer this alternative suggestion, which starts at £10 per person per night.
There is an official campsite in the middle of the "village" and just to the rear of the staff quarters which offers a cheaper and possibly more "authentic" experience of Lundy. My sleeping arrangements on the island had been sorted out thanks to me dear friend John Gayton which is why I did not need to utilise the campsite but I have camped enough to know about it. I had a look round the field which is not dead flat but would afford decent pitches for tents. It is surrounded on all sides by dry-stone walls which should afford a degree of protection from the winds which can get up a bit round here. Purely in the interests of VT research, I did pop my head in the door of the shower / toilet block one day and they were absolutely spotless. Regrettably, my computer does not seem to want to upload the image so you will have to take my word for it!
For eating, you have a few options. You can have a meal in the excellent Tavern or buy your own food from the island shop (see seperate tips). You could always bring your own stuff from the mainland but it is a bit of a trek up that hill! Just please do not do what I saw one camping couple doing and using a disposable barbecue on one of the wooden tables in the beer garden of the Tavern thereby scorching the table! Well, you will get people like this everywhere and I am told that most campers are very respectful of the environment here. I did speak to some of the campers and they all seemed very happy with the facilities on offer.
Again, I stress that I did not camp here but I was living right next door and there was none of the rowdiness that can happen in some places, it appears to me that the Lundy campsite is a very decent place to say with good facilities and literally two minute access to the shop and the pub. I do not wish to mislead the VT reader in any way.
I would be happy to say there and provide the details should you wish to research it further.
The unique qualities of this campsite are merely that Lundy is so unique. It is so unlike anywhere else and a great base to explore the island if you don't want to take one of the accommodations or cannot afford to do so. Lundy offers something for everyone.
My son and I leave off every morning (well.. not too early indeed...) and it was a real pleasure when we come back "home" at night, to rest and chat seated in the large coach, with a coffee or a beer, reading some of the various books and magazines of the small library. Fantastic by night, absolute silence, just the wind whispering smoothly outside. Dream like a baby!
You can't understand what is Old Light Lower until you stay in there. This accommodation belong to the Landmark Trust (indeed the whole island accommodations and facilities belongs to Landmark Trust), and this fancy old house was the former home of the man in charge of the Lighthouse, built in 1826 now is destined to the tourism, the Old Lighthouse function was replaced by two modern Lighthouses in each extreme of the island. This house is clean, 4 pax full equipped, warm, very good beds, absolutely beautiful house with great views (close to the cliffs, located on the highest point of the island), with a very convenient price.
Here on my Island we have 23 letting properties which are available year-round except for three weeks in January when we close down for annual maintenance. These properties are all restored buildings which had various uses over the years and have now been converted as self-contained, self-catering, short-term lets.
This is what the Landmark Trust (for whom I work) does. It rescues interesting, and often historically-important, buildings which have fallen into disrepair and restores them to their former glory whilst painstakingly furnishing and decorating them to fit the character of the property. They have buildings all over the UK plus a few on the Continent and here on Lundy they manage the whole Island including the pub, farm and the infrastructure.
The 23 letting properties range from the single bed former Radio Room to the twelve bed mansion, built by the Heaven family, which they have renamed Millcombe House. All of the properties come ready for occupation with sheets and towels, fully-equipped kitchens, sitting rooms with bookshelves and board games, and all, with the exception of the remote Tibbets, have mains electricity, central heating (and in some cases Furnacite-burning stoves too) and hot and cold running water. What they don't have is televisions or telephones which makes a visit here a bit like stepping back in time.
When booking properties it's best to know a little about them beforehand so that you can choose one that'll suit you. All the information is on the website and to access the list of accommodation here simply put England in the "Country" box, "Lundy" in the next box and then "Lundy" again when it gives you the building options. Alternatively you can just click HERE
Prices are per property and you should note that these vary vastly according to season. In addition to paying for the accommodation you also need to arrange your transportation, whether boat or helicopter. Or if you so wish you can sort out your own transportation to and from the Island - if you have your own boat for instance, or even a light plane.
Even though I work here and live in the staff accommodation I did get put up in Square Cottage when I came across for my working interview and so I can attest that the properties are comfortable, spotlessly-clean and well-equipped. Here's a few pics to give you an idea:
Not something I would do personally but if you want a camping challenge then we can certainly provide one. Behind the shop is our camping field with its dry-stone walling and this is available for hardy souls during the boat season (end March to end October). During the winter we let the sheep use it, just to keep the grass trimmed and fertilised, and then it is ready for our seasonal visitors.
Even though it is quite a large field we restrict numbers to a maximum of 40 as that is the limit that the toilet and shower facilities are designed for (there's also a small, very basic kitchen too) and potential campers should note that whilst the field is quite well sheltered, and slopes away from the prevailing south-westerly winds - but when the wind changes it can be quite an experience.
Having said that - if it does get too rough campers are more than welcome to decamp and use either the Tavern or the church for shelter.
When you arrive for your boat you can have your tent and other equipment put in the hold and it will be taken up to the field on our tractor trailor soon after docking. Note though that you have to be decamped and packed by 9 am if you want it taken back down again on departure.
Prices per person, per night, range from £9 to £12 (2012). depending on month.
The Landmark Trust owns 23 properties on Lundy, all of them in unique old buildings. You can choose to stay in the 13th century Castle, an old lighthouse, the tiny blue school or a former radio room.
Castle - there are four cottages inside the castle, about 15 minutes' walk from the village overlooking South Light and the Landing Bay. One thing we noticed was that the cottages didn't have that many windows, so while staying in a historic castle sounds appealing, we were quite glad not to have chosen one of these.
Hanmers - a small fisherman's hut below the castle with possibly the best views of the island, right along the east coast.
Bramble Villas, Little and Big St John's Cottages - these four properties are all quite hidden, in the valley below the village
Milcomble House - this housed the Heaven family, owners of Lundy, before being turned into a hotel. Nowadays, it sleeps up to 14, but be prepared for a steep climb up to the pub at night.
Square Cottage, the Radio Room, Old House, the Quarters - these are all properties right in the centre of the village.
Old School - just round the corner from Government House, this tiny blue "shack" sleeps two.
The Barn - this is the nearest thing to a hostel on Lundy, sleeping 14...I think you can just pay per bed and don't have to rent the whole building. Again, it is right in the middle of the village, opposite the shop.
Stoneycroft - a cottage close to the Old Light with a private garden
Old Light cottages - three properties in the historic Old Light, two in the lighthouse itself and a tiny one-man cottage in the garden. I would imagine there would be lots of daytrippers wandering through your garden, as it is possible to climb up the tower.
Tibbetts - the most remote property on Lundy, this one has no electricity and is stuck about three-quarters of the way along the island, a good 2 miles from the village.
It is also possible to camp in a field behind the village. The campers did spend a lot of time in the pub when it rained!
All the properties can be booked through the Landmark Trust website given below...but book early, as many visitors return year after year, booking almost a year in advance to get the property they want.
Landmark Trust owns about 20 properties on Lundy available as self-catering accommodation, and the one my brothers chose to rent was Government House. Built for the governor of Lundy, who decided not to live there for some reason, it is the only property on Lundy that was actually constructed by the Trust, using bricks from the old hotel which was so damaged it had to be demolished.
Government House occupies a very sheltered position, just below the village at the top of Milcombe Valley, with a steep garden overlooking the sea. Sleeping five, it is a very comfortable house...a double room, a twin room and a single, two bathrooms, a huge lounge, a kitchen, a dining room, and two gardens complete with deckchairs. All the furniture inside is, well...I'm not quite sure how to describe it...traditional? Period? Antique? Old-fashioned? Anyway, it's all wooden floors and bookcases and framed paintings of shipwrecks.
Electrical devices are discouraged. There are sockets in all the rooms, so you can charge your mobile up, but really, what's the point? Lundy's mobile coverage is patchy at best, and isn't that why you came, to escape things like mobiles?! Electrical entertainment is considered a luxury here, so no television, no radio, no CD player, no washing machine, no dishwasher...but essential things like fridges and electric kettles are provided. As in the rest of the island, electricity goes off at midnight until 6am.
The logbooks dating back to 1984 makes for entertaining reading. So many visitors ended up stranded here for much longer than anticipated due to adverse weather conditions, and most of them seemed pretty pleased about that...I can sort of understand why. Many also mentioned a pygmy shrew scuttling around the house, falling into bins and rustling around in plastic bags late at night. We thought it must have either died or been fictional, until on our final night I was woken up by hearing something padding around my bedroom. Scrambling to find my torch in the darkness, I must have frightened it away, and he ran through to my brother's room where he performed acrobatics in a plastic bag until dawn.
Having a wall between us and the village did give us the sense of privacy...but we soon realised that means nothing on Lundy, as there is no private land. You're free to wonder around at will, and many did, opening the little blue gate and tramping right past the house. On daytrip days, we would end up with a constant stream of visitors somehow finding their way into the valley below, emerging from the bushes all red-faced and panting, embarrassed at finding themselves in our garden! one even thought he'd found the pub, and sat down in one of our deckchairs!
One of the most convenient things about the house was that it was just twenty yards from the pub, so we were free to go and drink as much as we like without any worries about losing our way home and falling off a cliff.
This is a most exotic accommodation in Lundy Island (other are the Governor House or The Castle). You have a two stories house with kitchen plus the Light House (the old one, the new one is near the pier), where you can climb and enjoy a beautiful view of the tiny island resting in a hammock.
The round ticket in the boat MS Oldenburg, sailing from Bideford or from Ilfracombe to Lundy Island, costs 47 pounds.
They have hot and cold running water, electric shaver points and heated towels rails.
Take into account that the given telephone is from the Lundy Island Development Office, in Devon coast, since no accommodation in Lundy Island has telephone, radio or television; indeed you will be in an island very isolated.
Next time I go to Lundy - and there will be a next time, of that I am sure - I will make a point of staying overnight on the island. Just four hours (which is what you get when you go on the day trip with Oldenburg) on Lundy just wasn't enough. We spent nearly 1.5 hours just getting up the hill and back down again, and over half an hour having lunch.
I would have liked to have been able to take my time and see the island with a leisurely stroll, rather than rushing here, there and everywhere to make the most of our limit time.
There are 17 different buildings offering accommodation on the island, and they cater from just a small cottage for two, to a geat mansion house for 12.
Check out the website below for details.
We have stayed twice at this very small self catering cottage perched on the edge of a sea cliff. 2 rooms of bunk beds, sleeping 4 all told. Living room, kitchen, and plenty of reading material.
On one occasion we were 2 days in a hurricane gale when it was too dangerous to go outside, in case you were blown into the sea.
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