Saturday, November 29, 2008

British Islands

Isle of Anglesey

Anglesey’s 125 miles of coastline, with its sandy beaches and tiny fishing villages, quiet coves and rocky headlands, is officially designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty. Anglesey’s “Lakelands” such as Llyn Alaw and Llyn Maelog, offer good sports for the freshwater angler, and there’s riding at Trefor for all the family’s enjoyment. Attractions include the 200 acre nature reserve on Holy Island; Beaumaris Castle and the fascinating Museum of Childhood and Tegfryn Art Gallery, both at Menai Bridge; Beaumaris Gaol; the Visitor Centre at Llanfairpwll, and Plas Newydd, the imposing 18th century stately home now in the care of the National trust. Souvenir hunters will be eager to visit the many little craft workshops that flourish in the quieter inland areas of Anglesey.

The Channel Islands

Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, Sark and Herm are sheltered by the French mainland, but are within easy reach of English shores. This gives the Channel Islands a unique atmosphere; a combination of both countries.
Jersey, largest of the group – roughly nine miles by five miles, has an area of some 45 square miles. There are some 500 miles of good motoring roads and the distance right around the island is just 46 miles. Car hire (very reasonably priced) is easily arranged. St. Helier, the lively and attractive capital provides much entertainment, good shops and a colorful, indoor market.
Guernsey, second largest of the Channel Islands, has an unspools, uncommercialised aspect which lures holidaymakers bent on simple pleasures and leisure in idyllic surroundings. Guernsey’s south-east coast is one of supreme grandeur providing breathtaking views from winding cliff paths. To the west is a long expanse of beaches with rocky headlands forming bays with fascinating names of French origin like Cobo, Chouet, L’Eree, L’Ancresse and Vazon. St. Peter Port, the capital, is built on a hillside and has narrow, cobbled streets which slope steeply to the harbor.
Alderney – an area of just three and a half by one and a half miles, but packed with interest, beauty and an exciting history of smuggling. The rugged coastline is a mass of wild flowers, and inland there are large areas of unspool moorland. There are a golf course and opportunities for sailing, fishing and even surfing.
Sark and Herm – where you can get away from the noise of traffic, for both islands forbid vehicles. Sark has cliffs, bays and two picturesque harbors and the colorful “Anemone cave”. Herm, a short launch trip from Guernsey, has sandy beaches, woods and cliffs with numerous varieties of wild flowers and birds.

Isle of Man

Out in the Irish Sea, 75 miles from the British mainland, the Isle of Man has a little of everything for holiday enjoyment, contained within its 227 square miles. From 100 miles of coastline, which varies from spectacular cliffs to tiny coves and miles of sandy beaches, the island rises steeply through lovely glens into rolling green mountains. On Snaefell summit from where on a clear day it is possible to see four other kingdoms – England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Douglas, the capital, is the destination of steamers from various parts of Britain. Home of the House of Keys, the island’s Parliament, Douglas has a two-mile sandy sea front and unusual horse-drawn trams. The island has many historic castles and ruins and much connected with folklore.
There are six fine golf courses, bowling-greens, boating lakes, sailing, sea, lake and river fishing, skin-diving, pony-trekking, water-skiing and so much more. This “Isle of Sport” has festivals of football, rugby, hockey, athletics and shooting, as well as international hockey, race walking, offshore yacht racing, and International Air Rally. But the island’s most famous sport is motorcycle racing. Every year in June, the International Tourist Trophy Races are held. There is also an international cycling week, and the Rothmans International Rally. Ronaldsway airport served by 18 airports in Britain and two in Ireland.

Isles of Scilly

More than 100 islands form the Isles of Scilly, situated in the Atlantic Ocean some 28 miles south-west of Land’s End, Cornwall – the English mainland’s westernmost point. Only five of these islands are inhabited and St. Mary’s, the largest, is no more than three miles long. The other inhabited “off-islands”, as they are always called, are Tresco, St. Martin’s, St. Agnes and Bryher. Seals, dolphins and puffins are the only inhabitants of some of the other islands. You can take a boat from St. Mary’s to all the inhabited islands and, when weather permits, to see the Bishop Rock Lighthouse. The Isles enjoy a usually drier and sunnier climate than other parts of South West, and winters are mild.
Penzance (on the mainland) is a good holiday centre, with its picturesque fishing villages and its sub-tropical gardens, plus its unequalled position in a shelter corner of Mount’s Bay. Penzance is the main port of departure for the Isles of Scilly - you can take 20 minute flight by helicopter or a more leisurely cruise out in the Scillonian to the islands. Those visiting for the day from Penzance will have the opportunity to go by launch to the island of Tresco and visit the unique sub-tropical Abbey Gardens. Brymon Airways fl from Exeter, Newquay and Plymouth to Scilly.

Isle of Wight

A year-round holiday resort- the Isle of Wight with its remarkable variety of scenery, spectacular chins, a multicolored sand cliff, and clear beaches – is but a short hop from the south coast of England. It is a great place for sailing – the round the island yacht race (June), starts and finishes at Cowes; and Cowes Week itself, the most fashionable event in the yachting calendar, is held the first week in August. There are over four dozen places of interest to visit and many miles of delightful walks.

Western Isles

These are made up of two large groups of Scottish Islands, the Inner Hebrides and the Outer Hebrides. The Inner Hebrides include Skye, Mull, Iona, Staffa, Coll, Tiree, Colonsey, Oronsay, Eigg, Muck, Rhum, Canna, Islay and Jura. Skye is the largest of the group – a glorious wilderness of rock and heather, mountains, lochs and trout streams. Portree is the island’s capital. Head for the Cuillins for some of the finest rock climbing in Europe. Mull, the second largest island has wild mountainous scenery, sea lochs and sandy bays. Tobermory is the main town. See the beautiful gardens of Calgary House in the north-west, while in the south-west, separated by a narrow channel, is Iona. You can take a boat from Mull to the island of Staffa, which is famous for its caves including Fingal’s Cave, which inspired Mendelssohn in the “Hebrides” overture.
Between them, the twin islands of Islay and Jura offer beaches, bays and rugged mountains. Jura has many caves, deer, large peaks known as the Paps of Jura – and a whisky distillery.
Lewis and Harris, Benbecula, Barra, North and South Uist – these are the islands of the Outer Hebrides. Together, Lewis and Harris form a single island – remote and unspool with wild moors and splendid beaches of silver-white. Here you will hear Gaelic spoken more often than English; and stirring Gaelic songs sung at lively ceilidhs (pronounced Kay-leys). Sternway is the largest town in the Outer Hebrides and is a major fishing port. Harris is famous for its hand-woven tweeds. The Uists are ideal for bird watching and Barra for sea angling.


Orkney, about 70 islands in all, lie some seven miles off the north coast of the Scottish mainland. Kirkwall is the capital with a busy harbor and narrow, twisting streets. Orkney was once a Norse earldom and many relics of the Vikings survive. Near Finstown is Maes Howe (Stone Age tomb dating back to 2000 BC). Stromness, Orkney’s major seaport is one of the most picturesque and attractive locations in Britain.


Beyond Orkney are the Shetland Islands, the northernmost outpost of the British Isles. About 100 in all, of which only 16 are inhabited. Lerwick is the main town. On the southern tip of the Shetland mainland, at Sumburg, ancient contrasts with modern as this is the site of the Shetlands airport, and nearby are Bronze and Iron Age remains, the ruins of a Viking Village and a 16th century house.

Isle of Arran

Arran is a sheltered island set in the Clyde estuary, protected from the full force of the Atlantic by the peninsula of Kintyre. Its shores are washed by the warm waters of the Gulf Stream and with its all year round mild climate, enjoy rich and colorful vegetation. To the north and east are spectacular mountain ridges and to the south and west are green pasturelands, bordered by sandy beaches and towering cliffs.


Earl John said...

great post! Listing the different islands of the place and its important information. Hope to see more of post from you and help other travelers to know better about the place. Thanks for sharing this post!

finola said...

Hi, makes me want to travel around (literally) Britain next time I'm there - would have loved to see pictures too tho!