Explore the British Isles with our guide to the UK's most interesting and inspiring islands.

MOST DRAMATIC

St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall

St Michael's Mount Dramatic Island

The story goes that Joachim von Ribbentrop, the Nazi foreign minister, came to Cornwall for a weekend in 1937 and decided, come the invasion, he’d bag St Michael’s Mount for himself. Who could blame him? A mini Mont Saint-Michel, it’s a rocky outcrop dominated by its medieval church and castle (and, thanks to some alleged miracles, it’s also a place of pilgrimage).

Owned by the St Aubyn family from 1657, they gave it lock, stock and medieval spire to the National Trust in 1954 in exchange for the rights to run it and call a part of the castle home for 999 years. In 2013 Lord St Levan (aka John St Aubyn) died aged 94, after welcoming visitors to the island for more than a quarter of a century. “I’ve often said that my greatest contribution to St Michael’s Mount was to do nothing,” he mused.

The best way to experience the island is to walk across the old brick causeway at low tide and climb up the grey stone steps to the summit. (Warning: it’s higher than it looks from the shore.) As one of the National Trust’s most popular destinations, it’s truly humming in high season, so it’s better to plan a visit for a quieter time.

Reached by ferry from Marazion, or on foot when the tide is out

 

BEST FOR OLD ROCKERS

Eel Pie Island, Twickenham, London

Eel Pie Island

The story goes that Joachim von Ribbentrop, the Nazi foreign minister, came to Cornwall for a weekend in 1937 and decided, come the invasion, he’d bag St Michael’s Mount for himself. Who could blame him? A mini Mont Saint-Michel, it’s a rocky outcrop dominated by its medieval church and castle (and, thanks to some alleged miracles, it’s also a place of pilgrimage).

Owned by the St Aubyn family from 1657, they gave it lock, stock and medieval spire to the National Trust in 1954 in exchange for the rights to run it and call a part of the castle home for 999 years. In 2013 Lord St Levan (aka John St Aubyn) died aged 94, after welcoming visitors to the island for more than a quarter of a century. “I’ve often said that my greatest contribution to St Michael’s Mount was to do nothing,” he mused.

The best way to experience the island is to walk across the old brick causeway at low tide and climb up the grey stone steps to the summit. (Warning: it’s higher than it looks from the shore.) As one of the National Trust’s most popular destinations, it’s truly humming in high season, so it’s better to plan a visit for a quieter time.

Reached by ferry from Marazion, or on foot when the tide is out

 

BEST FOR OLD ROCKERS

Eel Pie Island, Twickenham, London

Eel Pie Island

The story goes that Joachim von Ribbentrop, the Nazi foreign minister, came to Cornwall for a weekend in 1937 and decided, come the invasion, he’d bag St Michael’s Mount for himself. Who could blame him? A mini Mont Saint-Michel, it’s a rocky outcrop dominated by its medieval church and castle (and, thanks to some alleged miracles, it’s also a place of pilgrimage).

Owned by the St Aubyn family from 1657, they gave it lock, stock and medieval spire to the National Trust in 1954 in exchange for the rights to run it and call a part of the castle home for 999 years. In 2013 Lord St Levan (aka John St Aubyn) died aged 94, after welcoming visitors to the island for more than a quarter of a century. “I’ve often said that my greatest contribution to St Michael’s Mount was to do nothing,” he mused.

The best way to experience the island is to walk across the old brick causeway at low tide and climb up the grey stone steps to the summit. (Warning: it’s higher than it looks from the shore.) As one of the National Trust’s most popular destinations, it’s truly humming in high season, so it’s better to plan a visit for a quieter time.

Reached by ferry from Marazion, or on foot when the tide is out

 

BEST FOR OLD ROCKERS

Eel Pie Island, Twickenham, London

Eel Pie Island

There are almost a hundred islands (known as eyots or aits) in the River Thames, including Runnymede, Hayling and D’Oyly Carte Island in Weybridge, bought by Richard D’Oyly Carte of opera fame. Eel Pie is merely a tiny blob in the bend of the Thames at Twickenham, but between 1957 and 1967 it was a magnet for the London music scene. The list of people that performed at the legendary Eel Pie Hotel includes David Bowie, Rod Stewart (performing with Long John Baldry) and scruffy unknowns The Rolling Stones, who at one point had a weekly residence.

The island had a reputation for louche behaviour; the hotel later became a hippie commune before it was razed in a fire. Today couldn’t be more of a contrast—quiet, residential, ramshackle and overgrown in summer. The words “desirable residence” ring in the head of the visitor, and you’d be hard pushed to guess its wild history. It’s a private island, so The Fox pub on the opposite bank is a nice place to enjoy a pint on a sunny day.

Privately owned, Eel Pie Island is open to non-residents on artist open days in the summer

 

BEST FOR WILDLIFE

Mull and Iona, Inner Hebrides

Golden eagle on Mull and Iona

Mull, the third largest of the Scottish islands, is teeming with wildlife—otters, whales, dolphins, golden eagles and deer. But the stars must be the enormous sea eagles with their distinctive white-tipped tails (known as flying barn doors), which were once extinct in mainland Scotland.

The most dramatic way to arrive in Mull is by tiny plane, which gives views of the beaches, bays, eagles (if you’re lucky) and the pretty pastel-coloured fishing village of Tobermory (pictured above), which is also the departure point for the whale- and dolphin-watching trips. (You could see fin, minke, long-finned pilot or killer whales and occasionally sperm whales off the waters here, as well as five different species of dolphin and harbour porpoises.) At the very western tip of Mull is the tiny, mystical island of Iona, home of the famous Christian community who work for peace and social justice. There’s been a religious settlement here since the sixth century.

Be sure to book early for Mull. At the height of summer, it’s a bunfight to find a free bed on the island.

Reached by seaplane from Glasgow (tobermory.co.uk) or by Caledonian MacBrayne ferry from Oban

 

MOST EXOTIC

Isles of Scilly, Cornwall

Exotic isles of scilly

Always described as a “little bit of the Caribbean off the coast of Cornwall”, Scilly is a string of 145 islands just off Land’s End, though only five are inhabited. They all have their charms, but St Mary’s—the largest at a mere three miles wide—has long been the most famous due to its association with the pipe-puffing former prime minister Harold Wilson, who had a holiday home on the island and is buried here. Wilson was often pictured lolling about on the balmy islands, although papers released after his death reveal that he suspected he was being spied on by Russians disguised as trawlermen while he was there.

Tresco—the second largest island—is famous for the collection of Victorian plant-hunter Augustus Smith in the exotic Tresco Abbey Gardens. The islands are also a lure for those interested in wildlife spotting (whales, basking sharks, dolphins) and wreck-diving.

The Isles of Scilly are 28 miles off the south-west coast of Cornwall. St Mary’s is the most accessible, with a ferry service, airport and helicopter links (islesofscilly-travel.co.uk)

 

BEST FOR BIRD-WATCHERS

Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland

Bird Watching on Rathlin Island

Rathlin is the only inhabited island off the coast of Northern Ireland. The population is hardly a throng at 70 and they’re far outnumbered by the birds—shags, guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes, fulmars, gannets and puffins. Some 100,000 birds nest in the cliffs and can be viewed from the RSPB bird hide. From mid-June, the first chicks are hatching; around the end of this month, the puffins gather up and head out to sea. Other wildlife includes ravens and buzzards, as well as grey and common seals.

Eight miles long, Rathlin is a popular day trip in summer (admittedly best on a fine day). The scenery is rugged, with velvety green cliffs and brisk winds, and as cars are allowed on by special permission only it’s perfect for walkers. On a clear day, you can see over to the Hebridean islands of Islay and Jura.

Rathlin Island, six miles off the coast of Ballycastle, can be reached by ferry (rathlinballycastleferry.com)

 

BEST FOR ART-DECO FANS

Burgh Island, Devon

Burgh Island Art Deco Hotel

This is a tidal island, reached by foot at low tide or by tractor the rest of the time. The island (pronounced Burr) is a rocky outcrop that became popular as a picnic destination for Victorians, but it’s now famous for its restored art-deco hotel. The owners can reel off a list of famous guests—Agatha Christie (who wrote And Then There Were None and Evil Under the Sun in the hotel’s Beach House), Noel Coward, and Churchill and Eisenhower, who met here before the D-Day landings.

The dinners are black tie and visitors often dress in 1930s costume. Slightly less formal, The Pilchard Inn is an old smugglers’ pub, dating from 1395. Burgh is not the cheeriest place in the winter months, but it gets pretty full come summer—best to go for just slightly out of season.

Located 400 yards south of Bigbury-on-Sea

 

MOST SPIRITUAL

Lindisfarne, Northumberland

Spiritual Lindisfarne, Northumberland

There are many claimants for the title Holy Island, but Lindisfarne—the small and atmospheric tidal island just off the coast of Northumberland—wins by a nose. Birthplace to the Lindisfarne Gospels some 1,300 years ago (now in the British Museum), home of Saint Cuthbert and an early centre for Christianity, its entire early monastic civilisation was wiped out by pesky Viking raiders. It’s been a draw for pilgrims ever since; on Good Friday they plod across the muddy flats, often carrying crosses (pictured above).

The ruined and eerie Lindisfarne Priory is probably the most famous image of the island (and a good place to start a tour); Edwin Lutyens restored the castle in 1901, and it has a walled kitchen garden (best seen in summer months) designed by his friend Gertrude Jekyll. The island is also famous for wildlife—there are 25 varieties of birds here and honking grey seals are plentiful. Then there’s Lindisfarne mead, first made by the monks (don’t ask us why monks always brewed up a storm) and still produced here in the island winery.

Lindisfarne is one mile off the coast. Visitors can pick up a bus, minibus or cab shuttle from Beal. Check nationaltrust.org.uk for safe crossing times

 

BEST FOR ROYAL-WATCHERS

Anglesey, Wales

Anglessey Royal Watching

Rathlin is the only inhabited island off the coast of Northern Ireland. The population is hardly a throng at 70 and they’re far outnumbered by the birds—shags, guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes, fulmars, gannets and puffins. Some 100,000 birds nest in the cliffs and can be viewed from the RSPB bird hide. From mid-June, the first chicks are hatching; around the end of this month, the puffins gather up and head out to sea. Other wildlife includes ravens and buzzards, as well as grey and common seals.

Eight miles long, Rathlin is a popular day trip in summer (admittedly best on a fine day). The scenery is rugged, with velvety green cliffs and brisk winds, and as cars are allowed on by special permission only it’s perfect for walkers. On a clear day, you can see over to the Hebridean islands of Islay and Jura.

Rathlin Island, six miles off the coast of Ballycastle, can be reached by ferry (rathlinballycastleferry.com)

 

BEST FOR ART-DECO FANS

Burgh Island, Devon

Burgh Island Art Deco Hotel

This is a tidal island, reached by foot at low tide or by tractor the rest of the time. The island (pronounced Burr) is a rocky outcrop that became popular as a picnic destination for Victorians, but it’s now famous for its restored art-deco hotel. The owners can reel off a list of famous guests—Agatha Christie (who wrote And Then There Were None and Evil Under the Sun in the hotel’s Beach House), Noel Coward, and Churchill and Eisenhower, who met here before the D-Day landings.

The dinners are black tie and visitors often dress in 1930s costume. Slightly less formal, The Pilchard Inn is an old smugglers’ pub, dating from 1395. Burgh is not the cheeriest place in the winter months, but it gets pretty full come summer—best to go for just slightly out of season.

Located 400 yards south of Bigbury-on-Sea

 

MOST SPIRITUAL

Lindisfarne, Northumberland

Spiritual Lindisfarne, Northumberland

There are many claimants for the title Holy Island, but Lindisfarne—the small and atmospheric tidal island just off the coast of Northumberland—wins by a nose. Birthplace to the Lindisfarne Gospels some 1,300 years ago (now in the British Museum), home of Saint Cuthbert and an early centre for Christianity, its entire early monastic civilisation was wiped out by pesky Viking raiders. It’s been a draw for pilgrims ever since; on Good Friday they plod across the muddy flats, often carrying crosses (pictured above).

The ruined and eerie Lindisfarne Priory is probably the most famous image of the island (and a good place to start a tour); Edwin Lutyens restored the castle in 1901, and it has a walled kitchen garden (best seen in summer months) designed by his friend Gertrude Jekyll. The island is also famous for wildlife—there are 25 varieties of birds here and honking grey seals are plentiful. Then there’s Lindisfarne mead, first made by the monks (don’t ask us why monks always brewed up a storm) and still produced here in the island winery.

Lindisfarne is one mile off the coast. Visitors can pick up a bus, minibus or cab shuttle from Beal. Check nationaltrust.org.uk for safe crossing times

 

BEST FOR ROYAL-WATCHERS

Anglesey, Wales

Anglessey Royal Watching

Rathlin is the only inhabited island off the coast of Northern Ireland. The population is hardly a throng at 70 and they’re far outnumbered by the birds—shags, guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes, fulmars, gannets and puffins. Some 100,000 birds nest in the cliffs and can be viewed from the RSPB bird hide. From mid-June, the first chicks are hatching; around the end of this month, the puffins gather up and head out to sea. Other wildlife includes ravens and buzzards, as well as grey and common seals.

Eight miles long, Rathlin is a popular day trip in summer (admittedly best on a fine day). The scenery is rugged, with velvety green cliffs and brisk winds, and as cars are allowed on by special permission only it’s perfect for walkers. On a clear day, you can see over to the Hebridean islands of Islay and Jura.

Rathlin Island, six miles off the coast of Ballycastle, can be reached by ferry (rathlinballycastleferry.com)

 

BEST FOR ART-DECO FANS

Burgh Island, Devon

Burgh Island Art Deco Hotel

This is a tidal island, reached by foot at low tide or by tractor the rest of the time. The island (pronounced Burr) is a rocky outcrop that became popular as a picnic destination for Victorians, but it’s now famous for its restored art-deco hotel. The owners can reel off a list of famous guests—Agatha Christie (who wrote And Then There Were None and Evil Under the Sun in the hotel’s Beach House), Noel Coward, and Churchill and Eisenhower, who met here before the D-Day landings.

The dinners are black tie and visitors often dress in 1930s costume. Slightly less formal, The Pilchard Inn is an old smugglers’ pub, dating from 1395. Burgh is not the cheeriest place in the winter months, but it gets pretty full come summer—best to go for just slightly out of season.

Located 400 yards south of Bigbury-on-Sea

 

MOST SPIRITUAL

Lindisfarne, Northumberland

There are many claimants for the title Holy Island, but Lindisfarne—the small and atmospheric tidal island just off the coast of Northumberland—wins by a nose. Birthplace to the Lindisfarne Gospels some 1,300 years ago (now in the British Museum), home of Saint Cuthbert and an early centre for Christianity, its entire early monastic civilisation was wiped out by pesky Viking raiders. It’s been a draw for pilgrims ever since; on Good Friday they plod across the muddy flats, often carrying crosses (pictured above).

The ruined and eerie Lindisfarne Priory is probably the most famous image of the island (and a good place to start a tour); Edwin Lutyens restored the castle in 1901, and it has a walled kitchen garden (best seen in summer months) designed by his friend Gertrude Jekyll. The island is also famous for wildlife—there are 25 varieties of birds here and honking grey seals are plentiful. Then there’s Lindisfarne mead, first made by the monks (don’t ask us why monks always brewed up a storm) and still produced here in the island winery.

Lindisfarne is one mile off the coast. Visitors can pick up a bus, minibus or cab shuttle from Beal. Check nationaltrust.org.uk for safe crossing times

 

BEST FOR ROYAL-WATCHERS

Anglesey, Wales

Anglessey Royal Watching

Of course Anglesey is a lovely island—the largest off the Welsh coast, huge and flat with wide beaches, and 125 miles of coastal path for serious walkers. Oh, and it has the longest place name in Britain (shortened to Llanfairpwllgwyngyll). But its recent popularity boom has nothing to do with its charms and everything to do with tourists hoping to bump trolleys in the local Waitrose with its most famous residents.

Kate Middleton and Prince William scurried straight back to their rented house in Anglesey near William’s RAF base after the royal wedding, and a stream of tourists have followed them (it’s been dubbed by the press as “Wills and Kate’s Island of Love”). Where they actually live is classified information, obviously, but they’ve been spotted having a drink at the White Eagle pub in Rhoscolyn.

Reached by road over the Menai Straits via the Menai Suspension Bridge or the Britannia Bridge

 

MOST REMOTE

Rockall, Scotland

remote rockall

This is a tidal island, reached by foot at low tide or by tractor the rest of the time. The island (pronounced Burr) is a rocky outcrop that became popular as a picnic destination for Victorians, but it’s now famous for its restored art-deco hotel. The owners can reel off a list of famous guests—Agatha Christie (who wrote And Then There Were None and Evil Under the Sun in the hotel’s Beach House), Noel Coward, and Churchill and Eisenhower, who met here before the D-Day landings.

The dinners are black tie and visitors often dress in 1930s costume. Slightly less formal, The Pilchard Inn is an old smugglers’ pub, dating from 1395. Burgh is not the cheeriest place in the winter months, but it gets pretty full come summer—best to go for just slightly out of season.

Located 400 yards south of Bigbury-on-Sea

 

MOST SPIRITUAL

Lindisfarne, Northumberland

Spiritual Lindisfarne, Northumberland

There are many claimants for the title Holy Island, but Lindisfarne—the small and atmospheric tidal island just off the coast of Northumberland—wins by a nose. Birthplace to the Lindisfarne Gospels some 1,300 years ago (now in the British Museum), home of Saint Cuthbert and an early centre for Christianity, its entire early monastic civilisation was wiped out by pesky Viking raiders. It’s been a draw for pilgrims ever since; on Good Friday they plod across the muddy flats, often carrying crosses (pictured above).

The ruined and eerie Lindisfarne Priory is probably the most famous image of the island (and a good place to start a tour); Edwin Lutyens restored the castle in 1901, and it has a walled kitchen garden (best seen in summer months) designed by his friend Gertrude Jekyll. The island is also famous for wildlife—there are 25 varieties of birds here and honking grey seals are plentiful. Then there’s Lindisfarne mead, first made by the monks (don’t ask us why monks always brewed up a storm) and still produced here in the island winery.

Lindisfarne is one mile off the coast. Visitors can pick up a bus, minibus or cab shuttle from Beal. Check nationaltrust.org.uk for safe crossing times

 

BEST FOR ROYAL-WATCHERS

Anglesey, Wales

Anglessey Royal Watching

Rathlin is the only inhabited island off the coast of Northern Ireland. The population is hardly a throng at 70 and they’re far outnumbered by the birds—shags, guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes, fulmars, gannets and puffins. Some 100,000 birds nest in the cliffs and can be viewed from the RSPB bird hide. From mid-June, the first chicks are hatching; around the end of this month, the puffins gather up and head out to sea. Other wildlife includes ravens and buzzards, as well as grey and common seals.

Eight miles long, Rathlin is a popular day trip in summer (admittedly best on a fine day). The scenery is rugged, with velvety green cliffs and brisk winds, and as cars are allowed on by special permission only it’s perfect for walkers. On a clear day, you can see over to the Hebridean islands of Islay and Jura.

Rathlin Island, six miles off the coast of Ballycastle, can be reached by ferry (rathlinballycastleferry.com)

 

BEST FOR ART-DECO FANS

Burgh Island, Devon

Burgh Island Art Deco Hotel

This is a tidal island, reached by foot at low tide or by tractor the rest of the time. The island (pronounced Burr) is a rocky outcrop that became popular as a picnic destination for Victorians, but it’s now famous for its restored art-deco hotel. The owners can reel off a list of famous guests—Agatha Christie (who wrote And Then There Were None and Evil Under the Sun in the hotel’s Beach House), Noel Coward, and Churchill and Eisenhower, who met here before the D-Day landings.

The dinners are black tie and visitors often dress in 1930s costume. Slightly less formal, The Pilchard Inn is an old smugglers’ pub, dating from 1395. Burgh is not the cheeriest place in the winter months, but it gets pretty full come summer—best to go for just slightly out of season.

Located 400 yards south of Bigbury-on-Sea

 

MOST SPIRITUAL

Lindisfarne, Northumberland

Spiritual Lindisfarne, Northumberland

There are many claimants for the title Holy Island, but Lindisfarne—the small and atmospheric tidal island just off the coast of Northumberland—wins by a nose. Birthplace to the Lindisfarne Gospels some 1,300 years ago (now in the British Museum), home of Saint Cuthbert and an early centre for Christianity, its entire early monastic civilisation was wiped out by pesky Viking raiders. It’s been a draw for pilgrims ever since; on Good Friday they plod across the muddy flats, often carrying crosses (pictured above).

The ruined and eerie Lindisfarne Priory is probably the most famous image of the island (and a good place to start a tour); Edwin Lutyens restored the castle in 1901, and it has a walled kitchen garden (best seen in summer months) designed by his friend Gertrude Jekyll. The island is also famous for wildlife—there are 25 varieties of birds here and honking grey seals are plentiful. Then there’s Lindisfarne mead, first made by the monks (don’t ask us why monks always brewed up a storm) and still produced here in the island winery.

Lindisfarne is one mile off the coast. Visitors can pick up a bus, minibus or cab shuttle from Beal. Check nationaltrust.org.uk for safe crossing times

 

BEST FOR ROYAL-WATCHERS

Anglesey, Wales

Anglessey Royal Watching

Rathlin is the only inhabited island off the coast of Northern Ireland. The population is hardly a throng at 70 and they’re far outnumbered by the birds—shags, guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes, fulmars, gannets and puffins. Some 100,000 birds nest in the cliffs and can be viewed from the RSPB bird hide. From mid-June, the first chicks are hatching; around the end of this month, the puffins gather up and head out to sea. Other wildlife includes ravens and buzzards, as well as grey and common seals.

Eight miles long, Rathlin is a popular day trip in summer (admittedly best on a fine day). The scenery is rugged, with velvety green cliffs and brisk winds, and as cars are allowed on by special permission only it’s perfect for walkers. On a clear day, you can see over to the Hebridean islands of Islay and Jura.

Rathlin Island, six miles off the coast of Ballycastle, can be reached by ferry (rathlinballycastleferry.com)

 

BEST FOR ART-DECO FANS

Burgh Island, Devon

Burgh Island Art Deco Hotel

This is a tidal island, reached by foot at low tide or by tractor the rest of the time. The island (pronounced Burr) is a rocky outcrop that became popular as a picnic destination for Victorians, but it’s now famous for its restored art-deco hotel. The owners can reel off a list of famous guests—Agatha Christie (who wrote And Then There Were None and Evil Under the Sun in the hotel’s Beach House), Noel Coward, and Churchill and Eisenhower, who met here before the D-Day landings.

The dinners are black tie and visitors often dress in 1930s costume. Slightly less formal, The Pilchard Inn is an old smugglers’ pub, dating from 1395. Burgh is not the cheeriest place in the winter months, but it gets pretty full come summer—best to go for just slightly out of season.

Located 400 yards south of Bigbury-on-Sea

 

MOST SPIRITUAL

Lindisfarne, Northumberland

There are many claimants for the title Holy Island, but Lindisfarne—the small and atmospheric tidal island just off the coast of Northumberland—wins by a nose. Birthplace to the Lindisfarne Gospels some 1,300 years ago (now in the British Museum), home of Saint Cuthbert and an early centre for Christianity, its entire early monastic civilisation was wiped out by pesky Viking raiders. It’s been a draw for pilgrims ever since; on Good Friday they plod across the muddy flats, often carrying crosses (pictured above).

The ruined and eerie Lindisfarne Priory is probably the most famous image of the island (and a good place to start a tour); Edwin Lutyens restored the castle in 1901, and it has a walled kitchen garden (best seen in summer months) designed by his friend Gertrude Jekyll. The island is also famous for wildlife—there are 25 varieties of birds here and honking grey seals are plentiful. Then there’s Lindisfarne mead, first made by the monks (don’t ask us why monks always brewed up a storm) and still produced here in the island winery.

Lindisfarne is one mile off the coast. Visitors can pick up a bus, minibus or cab shuttle from Beal. Check nationaltrust.org.uk for safe crossing times

 

BEST FOR ROYAL-WATCHERS

Anglesey, Wales

Anglessey Royal Watching

Of course Anglesey is a lovely island—the largest off the Welsh coast, huge and flat with wide beaches, and 125 miles of coastal path for serious walkers. Oh, and it has the longest place name in Britain (shortened to Llanfairpwllgwyngyll). But its recent popularity boom has nothing to do with its charms and everything to do with tourists hoping to bump trolleys in the local Waitrose with its most famous residents.

Kate Middleton and Prince William scurried straight back to their rented house in Anglesey near William’s RAF base after the royal wedding, and a stream of tourists have followed them (it’s been dubbed by the press as “Wills and Kate’s Island of Love”). Where they actually live is classified information, obviously, but they’ve been spotted having a drink at the White Eagle pub in Rhoscolyn.

Reached by road over the Menai Straits via the Menai Suspension Bridge or the Britannia Bridge

 

MOST REMOTE

Rockall, Scotland

remote rockall

This is a tidal island, reached by foot at low tide or by tractor the rest of the time. The island (pronounced Burr) is a rocky outcrop that became popular as a picnic destination for Victorians, but it’s now famous for its restored art-deco hotel. The owners can reel off a list of famous guests—Agatha Christie (who wrote And Then There Were None and Evil Under the Sun in the hotel’s Beach House), Noel Coward, and Churchill and Eisenhower, who met here before the D-Day landings.

The dinners are black tie and visitors often dress in 1930s costume. Slightly less formal, The Pilchard Inn is an old smugglers’ pub, dating from 1395. Burgh is not the cheeriest place in the winter months, but it gets pretty full come summer—best to go for just slightly out of season.

Located 400 yards south of Bigbury-on-Sea

 

MOST SPIRITUAL

Lindisfarne, Northumberland

There are many claimants for the title Holy Island, but Lindisfarne—the small and atmospheric tidal island just off the coast of Northumberland—wins by a nose. Birthplace to the Lindisfarne Gospels some 1,300 years ago (now in the British Museum), home of Saint Cuthbert and an early centre for Christianity, its entire early monastic civilisation was wiped out by pesky Viking raiders. It’s been a draw for pilgrims ever since; on Good Friday they plod across the muddy flats, often carrying crosses (pictured above).

The ruined and eerie Lindisfarne Priory is probably the most famous image of the island (and a good place to start a tour); Edwin Lutyens restored the castle in 1901, and it has a walled kitchen garden (best seen in summer months) designed by his friend Gertrude Jekyll. The island is also famous for wildlife—there are 25 varieties of birds here and honking grey seals are plentiful. Then there’s Lindisfarne mead, first made by the monks (don’t ask us why monks always brewed up a storm) and still produced here in the island winery.

Lindisfarne is one mile off the coast. Visitors can pick up a bus, minibus or cab shuttle from Beal. Check nationaltrust.org.uk for safe crossing times

 

BEST FOR ROYAL-WATCHERS

Anglesey, Wales

Rathlin is the only inhabited island off the coast of Northern Ireland. The population is hardly a throng at 70 and they’re far outnumbered by the birds—shags, guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes, fulmars, gannets and puffins. Some 100,000 birds nest in the cliffs and can be viewed from the RSPB bird hide. From mid-June, the first chicks are hatching; around the end of this month, the puffins gather up and head out to sea. Other wildlife includes ravens and buzzards, as well as grey and common seals.

Eight miles long, Rathlin is a popular day trip in summer (admittedly best on a fine day). The scenery is rugged, with velvety green cliffs and brisk winds, and as cars are allowed on by special permission only it’s perfect for walkers. On a clear day, you can see over to the Hebridean islands of Islay and Jura.

Rathlin Island, six miles off the coast of Ballycastle, can be reached by ferry (rathlinballycastleferry.com)

 

BEST FOR ART-DECO FANS

Burgh Island, Devon

Burgh Island Art Deco Hotel

This is a tidal island, reached by foot at low tide or by tractor the rest of the time. The island (pronounced Burr) is a rocky outcrop that became popular as a picnic destination for Victorians, but it’s now famous for its restored art-deco hotel. The owners can reel off a list of famous guests—Agatha Christie (who wrote And Then There Were None and Evil Under the Sun in the hotel’s Beach House), Noel Coward, and Churchill and Eisenhower, who met here before the D-Day landings.

The dinners are black tie and visitors often dress in 1930s costume. Slightly less formal, The Pilchard Inn is an old smugglers’ pub, dating from 1395. Burgh is not the cheeriest place in the winter months, but it gets pretty full come summer—best to go for just slightly out of season.

Located 400 yards south of Bigbury-on-Sea

 

MOST SPIRITUAL

Lindisfarne, Northumberland

There are many claimants for the title Holy Island, but Lindisfarne—the small and atmospheric tidal island just off the coast of Northumberland—wins by a nose. Birthplace to the Lindisfarne Gospels some 1,300 years ago (now in the British Museum), home of Saint Cuthbert and an early centre for Christianity, its entire early monastic civilisation was wiped out by pesky Viking raiders. It’s been a draw for pilgrims ever since; on Good Friday they plod across the muddy flats, often carrying crosses (pictured above).

The ruined and eerie Lindisfarne Priory is probably the most famous image of the island (and a good place to start a tour); Edwin Lutyens restored the castle in 1901, and it has a walled kitchen garden (best seen in summer months) designed by his friend Gertrude Jekyll. The island is also famous for wildlife—there are 25 varieties of birds here and honking grey seals are plentiful. Then there’s Lindisfarne mead, first made by the monks (don’t ask us why monks always brewed up a storm) and still produced here in the island winery.

Lindisfarne is one mile off the coast. Visitors can pick up a bus, minibus or cab shuttle from Beal. Check nationaltrust.org.uk for safe crossing times

 

BEST FOR ROYAL-WATCHERS

Anglesey, Wales

Anglessey Royal Watching

Of course Anglesey is a lovely island—the largest off the Welsh coast, huge and flat with wide beaches, and 125 miles of coastal path for serious walkers. Oh, and it has the longest place name in Britain (shortened to Llanfairpwllgwyngyll). But its recent popularity boom has nothing to do with its charms and everything to do with tourists hoping to bump trolleys in the local Waitrose with its most famous residents.

Kate Middleton and Prince William scurried straight back to their rented house in Anglesey near William’s RAF base after the royal wedding, and a stream of tourists have followed them (it’s been dubbed by the press as “Wills and Kate’s Island of Love”). Where they actually live is classified information, obviously, but they’ve been spotted having a drink at the White Eagle pub in Rhoscolyn.

Reached by road over the Menai Straits via the Menai Suspension Bridge or the Britannia Bridge

 

MOST REMOTE

Rockall, Scotland

remote rockall

This island partly owes its fame to the shipping forecast, and you may think it exists only in the imaginations of BBC Radio 4 listeners. The real Rockall, however, is an uninhabitable lump in the Atlantic some 70 feet high. It’s been described as the “most isolated speck of rock in the world” and one of the most dangerous—the Rockall Club is only open to those who have landed on it (less than 100 people, it seems).

There were ownership squabbles with Ireland, Iceland and Denmark for years, but it was bagged by the UK in 1972. It supports only a few life forms (molluscs mostly), but it’s good for dolphin- spotting. Perhaps not the best holiday destination.

Rockall is 184 miles west of St Kilda, the nearest island. According to the Rockall Club (therockallclub.org), access is possible by private boat. Companies operate from Leverburgh and Stornoway in the Western Isles.

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