An explorer's guide to the islands of Britain

It was the prospect of being stranded on Asparagus Island that inspired me.

I was twelve at the time, it was 1979, and as far as my parents concerned our family holiday at the seaside had taken a turn for the worse when the incoming tide threatened to cut us off from the mainland. But I was thrilled with the idea of exploring my very own lump of rock, surrounded by sea with the remaining picnic to sustain us. What more could a girl of twelve really want?

It all turned into an obsession from there. As a student in the states I found North Carolina interesting but it was the islands off Cape Hatteras that provided a constant draw. Starting work things didn’t improve. My holiday time and most of my money was spent on exploring Hawaii, the Andaman Islands, Borneo, Iceland, Sri Lanka, the Canaries, Vancouver Island, Sicily and Cyprus to name just a few and my bucket list was for ever growing

There was definitely a pattern emerging. A yearning to be in places of mystery and legend, places of breathtaking scenery and majestic wildlife. Places where cultures had kept their true identities. Places of peace and of difference.

They were all islands.

Once I realised this and I reviewed my bucket list the Island Project was born. I have come to terms with my obsession now. Three years of walking, cycling, swimming, kayaking or just visiting the amazing gems of the British Isles. With over 6000 islands to choose from this has to be the greatest challenge. Researching how to get to them, finding routes around them and helping others do the same. It has become Islandeering.

I only returned to Asparagus Island last year. It was as exhilarating then as it was in my memories. This time I swam around it on a beautiful calm day in the blazing sunshine. Thoughts of jellyfish and shark attacks pushed far back in my mind. The beach I left behind was seething with humanity and fluttering ice cream wrappers but after just a few metres of swimming out to the island I found my peace and my haven of raw natural beauty. I was twelve again with not a care in the world.

We are experienced mountaineers, sea-kayakers, swimmers and ultra-runners who want to share our experiences of islands with others to enjoy.

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11 Replies to “About”

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  2. Jonathan Fulthorpe says:

    Wonderful and inspiring. Please put me on your mailing list. I will write again in a few weeks, and will follow up on my interest.

    Very best,

    Jonathan

    1. Lisa says:

      Thank you for your message Jonathan and yes I will do.

  3. John says:

    Have you ever been to the Faroe Islands? I went last year and they have some of the most stunning scenery imaginable.

    1. Lisa says:

      I’d love to go – we were going to go along to their trail running festival this year and explore more but then decided to spend more time on our own islands. The Faroes are definitely on my list though.

  4. James Christison says:

    Found you through the BBC article. Fantastic idea, surely the smiles per £ must be well on your side. Hope we share a pot of coffee one day on the far side of who knows where. You are an inspiration! Jim.

    1. Lisa says:

      Hi James – thanks so much for your message. Hoping to meet a whole lot more islandeers out there now – particularly coffee drinking ones. I shall look out for you. Lisa

  5. Patrick Herring says:

    Do you know “Some Lovely Islands” by Leslie Thomas? A kindred spirit to be sure. I deliberately didn’t finish reading it so there would always be more.
    A favourite island experience: taking the tourist boat to Inner Farne you get an hour on the island of which the last 5 minutes can be alone because everyone else needs to make sure of getting back. Then there was the heart centre glow that only comes with completion and wholeness.

    1. Lisa says:

      Thank you for the book recommendation Patrick. Just ordered it!
      I love Inner Farne too. I was lucky that the National Trust allowed me on the island before the main boats arrived to photograph the wildlife relatively undisturbed. So I share that incredible experience of nature with you. Interesting that you talk of completion and wholeness too. That’s what I find so compelling here. Completing the circle and all that it entails.

  6. David says:

    Alas, some of us are also ‘anoraks’… .Portland Dorset , not an island …. consider Kent, many islands no longer such as Thanet and Oxney…… don’t forget islands on Rivers and Lakes …. when does a sea stack become and island, would you visit Goodwin. I hope I have extended your bucket list and always happy to share experiences from visits ..

    1. Lisa says:

      Hey fellow island anorak…great to meet you. Well I have been trying not to get into the definition of an island – generally if it feels like an island it’s good enough for me. Surrounded by salt water or freshwater, joined by bridge, tombolo or causeway, an ex-island now part of the mainland, a speck of rock in the middle of the sea. I don’t really mind. Would love to hear more of your travels though – please do keep in contact. Lisa

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