At the start of James Cameron’s movie epic Titanic the older version of “Rose” makes the dooming statement that “….we were steaming west from the coast of Ireland, with nothing out ahead of us but ocean…”
With the knowledge that the Pacific Islands are made up of between 20 and 30 thousand individual islands, it seems strange that such a large part of our planet can be made up of vast ocean. It is commonly known that the last piece of civilization between Ireland and the USA are the Isles of Aran.
The UK and Ireland have some very interesting remote islands forming the boundary of the British Isles. Only some of these islands are populated, but all are accessible for tourists to visit.
Top Remote Islands
The three Isles that make up the Isles of Aran are not actually the westernmost point of Ireland. That title goes to Tearaght Island but its steep sides and lack of access make it hard to visit. Aran has a population of roughly 1200 and it is quite easy to make the trip across from the lively city of Galway. Tourists come to Aran to see the Iron and Bronze Age forts that are still in good condition particularly Dun Aengus. The unofficial title of the Worlds smallest church goes to Teampull Bheanáin which is situated on Aran.
From the North Devon coast on a good day you can see Lundy Island which looks like a perfect skimming stone floating on the sea. In fact this island just 12 miles off the English coastline has a population of just 28 as of the 2007 count. There are 23 holiday properties on the island for tourists interested in visiting. Highlights of the Island include the four inscribed stones dating from the 1st Century and the resident puffin population, popular with nature photographers.
Sealand is truly unique for the fact that it is man made and although unrecognised by any other nation is a principality run by a “Prince”. In 1967, Paddy Roy Bates and his family and associates seized the Mounsell sea fort used in WW2 and created an independent sovereign state. Bates seized the platform to set up his pirate radio station “Radio Essex” but this never transpired. Not only can you visit Sealand, you can also become a Lord, Lady, Count or Countess for a small price as part of their title pack. http://www.sealandgov.org/title-pack
Perhaps the most haunting and fascinating tale in this post comes from the outer most islands in the Outer Hebredis without counting the Danish claimed Rockall. The village of Hirta on St Kilda claimed the crown of the westernmost settlement in Scotland until 1930 when the entire population of 36 were evacuated. The village of Hirta is still there to visit with its houses and church maintained by the Scottish National Trust. Getting to St Kilda is not easy but is achievable with persistence.
Bressay in the Shetland Islands is not as north as you can go in Britain, but it’s not far off. Bressay has a population of around 400 and is only 2,800 hectares in size. The Bressay Lighthouse is beautiful and stands out on the coast with its whitewashed colour set on a green backdrop of the Shetland hills.
Spitbank Fort can be seen from the South Coast of England and was built to defend Portsmouth Harbour in 1878 from the Napoleon III’s French. Nowadays it’s used as a luxury secluded location for Weddings, Corporate events and has luxury rooms and a spa. This is far from the conditions on board when the MOD disposed of it in 1982.
Easdale is one of the Slate islands off the western coast of Scotland. Access is year round by a shuttle boat that links to Seil Island for mainland access. The ferry port also acts as the islands library. Easdale was once at the heart of Britain’s Slate mining and has roofed houses as far off as Nova Scotia. Easdale is now the smallest populated island in the Inner Hebrides and hosts the World Skimming championships annually in September http://www.stoneskimming.com/
The Farne Islands, not easily visible by naked eye from mainland England are a group of small islands off the Northumberland coast. The islands are very popular with photographers because of the sea birds that populate them. When approaching the islands are bright white because of the bird droppings that cover them!
Farne was the location of a fascinating tale of bravery in 1838 when Grace Darling spotted a ship wreck from her bedroom window in the Lighthouse on the island. She and her father rowed a small boat in stormy conditions to rescue eight survivors climbing to the rocks. The lighthouse can be visited.
These islands on Britain’s coast are all worth a visit if you can get there. During summer months they can be popular so it is worth booking early to avoid disappointment. It is worth considering the ferry or flight transport to and from the islands as this can be sporadic. Travel Insurance is important and can be very cheap considering the remoteness of destinations and the risk of travel delay/curtailment. Travel Insurance can be from as little as £2.43 for single trips from providers such as Protect your bubble http://uk.protectyourbubble.com/travel-insurance/. Bed and breakfast accommodation is in good supply around Britain’s coastline so it is worth considering http://www.bedandbreakfasts.co.uk/default.asp which has a good offering throughout the British Isles.