Saturday, 31 December 2011

Dan's favourite islands 2011

1. Farne Islands
This has to be one of the greatest wildlife experiences in the UK. Where else can you get as close to nesting puffins, razorbills, shags and kittiwakes? On Inner Farne, at the right time of year, arctic terns dive-bomb your head while their fluffy offspring run under your feet. But the birds are only half  the story – the human behaviour is just as weird and fascinating.

2. Lindisfarne
Holy Island, tidal island, distiller of mead, home to a storybook castle and beacon for tourists from miles around. Being cut off by the tide twice a day gives the island its sense of magic and isolation. Staying overnight transforms the experience to a slower, more spacious and quieter understanding of the place, where faith and history thrum beneath the coffee shops, rambling outfits and rushed daily visits.

3. Darnet Island
At first, Medway doesn't sound quite as exciting as the Shetlands but I guess it depends on what you're doing there. We were taken out of our comfort zone on a canoe trip and a spot of wild camping on one of Medway's many islands: Darnet Island. Next to the shipping lane, a power station and amidst a ring of busy towns it's amazing where you can find wildness and the thrill of adventure. Thanks to our guide Dave Wise we discovered the incredible scent of sea wormwood, the comfort of sea purslane as a mattress, the haunting interior of Darnet Fort, the difficulty of pinhole photography and the joy of waking up on your own secluded island.

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