Unless you have your own light aircraft or boat, and there are landing facilities for both on Lundy, you have two choices of how to get to Lundy depending on the season and the weather. There is a helicopter service all year round (weather permitting) although between March and November you have the option of a leisurely cruise on the MS Oldenburg, a lovely old vessel which runs from Ilfracombe or Bideford on certain days, generally Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Bideford departures are much less common so check the timetable on the attached website to make usre you go to the correct place.
My sailing was from Ilfracombe and I arrived in good time at the Quay to collect my ticket and have a look orund. Passengers are asked to be ready to board at least 45 minutes before the advertised departure time. My ticket had been arranged by the excellent John Gayton, the VT member at whose invitation I was visiting the island. The young lady in the shore office was charming and this was to be a feature of the entire sailing and indeed the island itself, the friendliness of those that live and work there.
I had a quick look round the boat and selected a seat beside the pursers desk, which proved to be a good move as I got into a great conversation with him and learnt a lot about the island and the boat. Most people had elected to sit outside on the upper deck in the July sunshine which meant that the two pleasantly appointed saloons were fairly empty and I didn't have to wait long to be served at the small but well-stocked bar.
The Oldenburg was launched in Bremen, Germany in 1958 and saw service as a ferry round the East Frisian islands. The Lundy Company then acquired her in 1985 to replace the former supply ship and she underwent a refurbishment at Appledore Shipyard where the original internal fixtures and fittings were retained, giving her a slightly old-fashioned but comfortable feel. Should you feel hungry there is a small buffet in the aft cabin and here is an insiders tip for you. If you fancy a sausage roll, get in quick as they sell out fast, apparently they are the favourite item on the menu!
The two hour sailing seemed to fly by and soon we were all on deck to catch a first glimpse of Lundy. Having tied up, I went down the fairly wobbly gangway to the jetty and sort of waited around whilst having a cigarette, smoking not being allowed anywhere on board. I was waiting for my luggage which had been crated in a large wooden crate and craned onboard at Ilfracombe. I spoke to one of the shore crew and was told not to worry, just to pick it up at the black shed. What black shed? I had no idea but this was Lundy and I had already got my head round the idea that things weould probably work themselves out. I may well have been a bit apprehensive at being seperated from all my kit anywhere else. Next, a guy called John who is one of the island workers and had obviously seen my guitar case (that does not go in the cargo hold!) approached me and said, " You must be John the Chef's mate, jump in the Landrover and I'll give you a lift up the hill." Hmm, it appears my infamy had preceeded me! Lundy is like that, everyone seems to know everyone else even before you get there.
I should mention that the walk from the jetty up to the "village" is quite steep although very pleasant and the Land Rover is there for people for whom it may have been a bit much. John dropped me off at the Marisco Tavern (see seperate tip) and I immediately treated myself to a pint or two. John was busy with lunch service so I didn't bother him. when he eventually appeared, I asked him about the black shed and my kit and he took me about 10 yards from the front door where there was, well, a black shed. I wandered in and collected my kitbag from the many sitting around apparently totally unguarded. As I said, Lundy is like that. I think it must be the oddest "baggage reclaim" I have ever encountered but it just seems to work.
The return journey, althoug tinged with sadness at leaving such a wonderful place, was equally pleasant and spent in company with a delightful couple who had been in the Tavern the previous night when I had been making a bit of a noise with my guitar. Again, this is a Lundy thing, you seem to make friends very quickly. Back on the mainland, the baggage was quickly off-loaded and I wandered off along the Quay with a last look back at a wonderful old vessel.
Cartainly, the helicopter is much quicker but you don't really want to rush and I really do recommend a voyage on the Oldenburg.
As always, apologies for the quality of some of the images due to a camera problem. Here is a list of fares.
Infant £6.00 (under 4 years)
(2 adults & 2 children) £80.00
Child sailing £30.50 (under 16 yrs)
Infant sailing £11.00 (under 4 years).
We have a small airfield here on my Island which can be used by visiting aviators. The runway is a 400 metres long grass strip which is kept in check by grazing our sheep on it and is marked on both sides by white-painted chunks of granite.
The strip is easily located, being alongside the Old Light, but apart from the border markers and the sheep is otherwise unmaintained and so flyers must do a low pass or two before attempting to land. It's also advised to phone ahead (01237 431831) just to check on local conditions as Lundy weather is a micro-climate and just because it's calm and clear on the mainland doesn't mean it'll be the same here.
Every August we host a "Fly-in" day which is popular with local flyers and we run a special boat sailing for spectators, but unfortunately it had to be cancelled this year (2013) due to high winds.
The airfield can be used by light craft and microlights and visiting helicopters can use our helipad next to the hangar-like shed in the village. Landing fee is £20 but note that there are no refuelling, or other, facilities (although I do believe we keep a small emergency supply of aviation fuel).
Website below has technical details and a couple of recent reviews:
A couple or three times a year we get a visit from a passing cruise ship, usually one of the Noble Caledonian vessels. These aim to arrive early-ish morning and leave in the evening.
This comes across as an interesting cruise company since they seem to have briefed their passengers on what to expect from my Island and so the visitors have already worked out their own agendas. The boats themselves are quite small cruise ships, with a maximum capacity of about 100 people, and moor in our Landing Bay, tendering their charges to the slipway beside the Jetty.
Today's visit (9th August 2013) by the MS Island Sky was due to arrive at 0830 but for whatever reason didn't get here until after 1430, which obviously curtailed the time its passengers could spend here. We laid on a Land Rover shuttle service for those who wanted it but most actually chose the "Lundy Welcome" and climbed up the hill under their own steam.
On arrival most seemed to know what they were looking for with the Church, the Tavern, the Shop and the Old Light being the most popular destinations. A few suitably footwear-attired got to the Village and headed straight up the Road towards the North End - I'm assuming they got back in time.
Always a welcome visitor - especially since it was my day off ;-)
The only vehicles on our Island are working ones - two Land Rovers, two quad bikes, two tractors, a small fire tender and a JCB and these are used specifically for work purposes. On boat days the wardens do use one of the Land Rovers to transport eldery or disabled people from the jetty up to the village but that's it as far as transportation around is concerned.
All our vehicles are designed for off-road use which considering we only have one road is kinda necessary. Our one road is known as The High Street and this runs the three miles through the middle of the island from the Landing Jetty at the South End to the roundabout (another singular) at the North End.
As roads go this is pretty basic, not much more than a rutted track after you get from the jetty to the village. The original road was built in the mid 1800's by William Hudson Heaven to connect the landing beach (as it then was) to the village and to his house. This was extended by Trinity House in the 1890's when the Old Light was replaced by the North and South Lights and it's interesting to note that after Quarter Wall the builders placed large chunks of granite spaced thirty yards apart all along the rest of the road up to the roundabout.
These were to act as guide markers on foggy days or on dark nights for the lighthouse keepers who would have to walk the road to access the village amenities and church - they would quite literally have felt their way.
The main (so to speak) two ways of getting to and from my Island are by boat and helicopter. The helicopter service runs in winter from late October until mid-March (except during the January maintenance shut-down) and the boat service (our supply vessel MS Oldenburg) runs the rest of the year. The helicopters currently only transport staying visitors but the Oldenburg also carries day-trippers and has a max capacity of 267 passengers.
The helicopters work out of Hartland Point (about 20 miles west of Bideford) and guests are expected to arrange their own transportation to and from there. It's a bit out of the way and the only public transport (apart from taxis) is the bus service to Hartland Town, about two miles away, but there is local car parking at the heliport.
The Oldenburg sails from either Bideford or Ilfracombe, depending on tides, and both ports are in their respective town centres with good public transport links as well as on-site car parking.
Both modes of transport however are weather dependent. During the helicopter season the craft don't fly on foggy days whilst during the boat season the ship won't sail if the prevailing winds are against it.
Whilst every effort is made to predict the weather and to provide alternative transportation (ie helicopters during the summer or a special boat journey in winter) there are times when we get caught out and staying guests may benefit from an extra day (and sometimes more) on Lundy or for the less fortunate due to embark to be stranded ashore until the weather eases.
This is all explained in the information pack provided if you have booked to stay with us and further details are available on the webpage below.
You can also travel independently and we do get visitors arriving in their own boats, chartered boats, chartered helicopters, small aircraft and even microlights - in each case a landing fee will be applied.
To reach the Island of Lundy you should sail, obviously, and the MS Oldenburg is the way to do it. Old german ship, bought by the british, this ship has a very interesting history. Beyond this history it is comfy, old fashioned, and efficient. A trip of two hours more or less, departing from Ilfracombe or Bideford, depending on the tides, you will arrive to Lundy. A nice part of the adventure.
Infant £5.50 (under 4 years)
(2 adults & 2 children) £80.00
Child sailing £29.50
Infant sailing £10.50 (under 4 years)
The morning we should sail from Ilfracombe to Lundy with the MS Oldenburg a storm was blowing the Bristol Channel, high waves, strong winds and rain. So, the ship can't sail. And now what? Now, poxipol. No worry, a bus from the pier to the heliport, and paying a 20 pounds extra charge each over the ship ticket price we flew to the island. 15 minutes of an amazing flight, that's all. That's all? Nops, unforgettable adventure, again.
Full price fare
Infant £10.50 (under 2 years old)
Lundy has its own supply boat, the MS Oldenburg, which during the boat season (mid-March until late October) also ferries staying guests and day-visitors. During the winter it makes supply runs and occasionally is used for ferrying people when the helicopters are grounded due to fog.
The ship itself is German built and was launched at Bremen in 1958 and for her early career was used firstly as a ferry and then as a duty-free booze cruiser around East Frisia. She was bought by the Lundy Company in November 1985 and after refurbishment and the fitting of new engines at Appledore, on the North Devon coast, the following year began full-time service between the mainland and Lundy Island.
From the end of March until the end of June and then in September and October she sails three times a week rising to four weekly sailings during July and August. Her departure point alternates between the ports of Bideford and Ilfracombe with timings dependant on tides.
The boat is licensed to carry 267 passengers and has a bar, buffet, heated saloons, shop and information centre and whilst she has been fully modernised retains much of her original wood panelling and brass fittings. The voyage lasts about two hours from either port and in addition to being used as a ferry the Oldenburg is also available for charters and private functions - the jazz evenings are especially popular.
On arrival at our Island the boat docks at the new jetty (previously passengers were tendered ashore) from which it is quite a steep walk up to the village. For those with disabilites though the wardens offer a landrover ride.
Even during summer the boat can sometimes be cancelled due to bad weather, especially when the wind changes to a northerly. In that event we sometimes reinstate the helicopter service for staying visitors but note that there is a surcharge for this.
During the winter (late October to mid-March) we charter a helicopter service to ferry people and supplies to and from the mainland. This is operated by a Cornish-based company, Castle Air, and runs on Fridays and Mondays between our heliport at Hartland Point and the landing zone on the edge of our village.
Hartland Point is the closest mainland location to Lundy, a mere ten miles, and here we lease a field from a local farmer where we have installed a goods and refuelling depot and a passenger terminal. Gatwick it ain't (praise be) but it does have all the basic facilites - particularly: loos, walls and a roof (and you'll understand the importance of all three should you ever make a winter visit).
Unfortunately Hartland Point isn't on the local bus route which only goes as far as Hartland Village (TOWN!), a Devon mile or so away, but there is a year-round car park adjacent and local taxis will also make the trip.
The journey to my Island takes a mere 6 minutes, lighthouse-to-lighthouse, and both the departure and arrival offer stunning coastal views - the bit in the middle is usually choppy grey seas as seen from about 300 feet up, equally visual but not quite so dramatic as the chopper whizzes over it at 150 MPH.
The helicopters used are little 7-seaters with six seats in the passenger compartment and one up front beside the pilot. On my first trip I was relegated to the back which I found a bit unnerving but these days I immediately opt for the front, pulling rank if necessary, and find the trip absolutely exhilerating, no matter the direction.
At the time of writing the helicopter journey is only available to staying visitors (rather than day-trippers) and to us residents. For staying visitors the accommodation rate doesn't include transportation and so tickets must be purchased in addition and note that there is a 10 kg luggage limit after which excess baggage fees apply.
From March until October, the MS Oldenburg carries passengers and supplies to Lundy several times a week. Sometimes she sails from Bideford, but most sailings leave from Ilfracombe...it all depends on tides apparently. Sailing time should only be around two hours, but it really depends on weather conditions. The seas can be really quite rough, even in summer (this is where the Bristol Channel meets the Atlantic), and there always seem to be people being seasick, especially those who sit indoors. Take my advice, get a hot drink from the buffet and sit outside for some fresh air, no matter what the weather is like...if you're going to Lundy, you'll no doubt have a waterproof!
When I made my first trips to Lundy, there was no jetty, so passengers had to board little dinghies to get ashore and embarking/disembarking was a time consuming thing. However there is now a jetty, allowing the Oldenburg to drop you off right on the island, saving quite a lot of time, although it isn't quite as exciting.
The Oldenburg is quite a photogenic little boat that doesn't seem big enough to handle the 269 passengers it claims it can hold...I doubt they're ever at full capacity though. Day returns currently cost £32.50 for adults, £17 for children, which includes the £5 landing fee for Lundy. Before booking, check the timetables to see how long you'll have ashore...it all depends on tides, so can be anything from 3 to 7 hours. If you plan to walk the length of the island, then choose one of the longer day trips...better not to have to run half the island in a rush to catch the boat (I speak from experience!!). Also, on longer day trips, there is also the possibility that the boat might make an hour-long trip with commentary around the island in the afternoon, both for day-trippers and residents...this was a new venture this year, and we went on the first outing which seemed to be very popular.
For those staying on Lundy, there are special sailings (mostly on Saturdays, this being the most popular changeover day), as obviously there will be a fair amount of luggage needing to be transported. These journeys cost slightly more, £56 per person, as your luggage also has to be taken up the very steep hill from the jetty to the village and taken to your accommodation. Watching the luggage being gathered up in a fishing net on the quayside and lowered by crane onto the ship is quite a sight and attracts a lot of onlookers.
From Ilfracombe, you'll get to see some spectacular coast as you leave the harbour...the stretch between Ilfracombe and Woollacombe is pretty stunning. From Bideford, it's also nice to sail up the Taw estuary past Appledore and Instow, before emerging in the sea between Saunton Sands and Westward Ho!. Look out for dolphins en route, especially closer to Lundy. Sometimes the boat departs one port and returns to the other...in those cases, a coach is laid on to transport you back to where you started from.
Other boats that sometimes visit Lundy include the Waverley, an old paddle steamer that floats in from Clovelly and Swansea. Yachts also make the crossing, and I'm sure if you ask around, you could probably charter a boat at any harbour in North Devon or South Wales for a price.
In winter months, or if the weather is so bad the boat can't run, there is a helicopter service from Hartland Point, taking just seven minutes to deposit you in the village behind the church. The helicopter fare is £92 per person, £48 for a child. Be warned that if your return boat is cancelled due to bad weather, you'll be put on a helicopter at extra cost.
For the elderly and infirm, there is a Land Rover that meets the boat and will take you to the top of the island, avoiding a very long and steep climb. I was tempted, but decided to walk instead. I wish I had arranged to get the transport back down to the boat, as my poor knees (which have an ongoing problem) are still suffering a week later.
For those people who are overnighting on the island, there is a tractor with a trailer which takes all the luggage to the top, so you only have to carry what you will need for the first couple of hours. There is a 20kg limit on luggage.
During the winter months, the sea is too rough for the Oldenburg to make its journey out to the island, so transport is by helicopter only. It runs on Fridays and Mondays, so you will have to stay either three or four nights on the island.
The Oldenburg is a beautiful ship which travels between Ilfracombe and Lundy Island four times a week in summer (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday).
The journey takes approximately two hours.
The cost of a return trip is £28 for adults.
The boat leaves Ilfracombe at 10am and returns by 18.30.
Oldenburg can carry 267 passengers.
There is a bar and a buffet on board, plenty of outside seating and more seats below deck. The staff are extremely friendly and helpful.