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.

We are always planning new islands and adventures, sign up to our newsletter and be the first to know!

Next adventure?

17 Replies to “About”

  1. recite says:

    Нello There. I found your bⅼⲟg using msn. This is a very
    ԝell written ɑrticⅼe. I’ll make sure to
    bookmark іt and return to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post.
    І’ll definitely comеbaϲk.

  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,


    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

  7. gerard says:

    Very difficult to read grey text on grey background.

    1. Lisa says:

      Thanks for your feedback Gerald. This is all self-funded and I am doing my best.

  8. Ben Berry says:

    I was fascinated to discover your identification of a basic pyschological desire to ‘conquer’ islands by circumnavigating them, in much the same way that people feel compelled to climb mountains. When I reflected on my choice of holiday destinations over many years, I realised that almost unknowingly I was picking islands ( which I felt I could fully embrace) and in every case had the compulsion to reach the highest point.
    As a boy of 14 I had this real urge to run away from home ( not that it was an unhappy childhood) and live and survive on Toll’s island off the coast of St. Marys in the Isles of Scilly, hundreds of miles from my home town. I bought some maps and constantly studied and plotted a way of achieving this. Of course it never happened, but just a few years ago ( and very many further on from this dream) I visited the Scillies and nothing would stop me wading across the water to actually step foot on this small rocky outpost. I actually think I was originally inspired watching a James Mason film called A Touch of Larceny where he ‘survived’ on an island, alone, for several weeks. Very interesting psychology, that appeals strongly to some , who wouldn’t want to ‘own’ an island ?
    Now, I must buy your book!

    1. Lisa says:

      Thank you for your message Ben. I’m still trying to get to the bottom of my island compulsion and find a way of better articulating it.
      I’m not sure I would personally use the word ‘conquer’ – I think that may have been newspaper magic. Much like I wouldn’t use it when climbing a mountain as I rather feel that the mountain dictates whether it is possible to reach the summit or not. Much is the same with islands where weather, tide, topography, ground cover and other natural factors have meant that I haven’t been able to make the full circuit in some cases.

      Certainly the wish and curiosity to complete the circuit is the same in me as to get to the top of a mountain.

      It is also fascinating to hear ‘run away’. At the moment I have spent a few weeks behind my desk and am desperate to get back out there but I am not thinking of coastline – I am desperate to get to an island. Loved your story of plotting your escape as a child. The process you went through is exactly how I find new islands!! Even now that I have completed almost 150 islands, I love the thrill of getting to places like Toll and if there was a further outcrop beyond it I’d want to get there too. It’s a bit like reaching a false summit, of course you won’t stop there you’ll go on until you reach the top.

      I will continue to analyse the psychology of this – but for now am content with the description that a few have bestowed on me by saying ‘you must be bonkers’.
      Thank you for buying the book and I hope that it gives you some more ideas for island escapes.
      Best wishes

  9. oprolevorter says:

    I just like the helpful information you supply to your articles. I will bookmark your weblog and check once more here frequently. I am somewhat sure I will learn many new stuff proper right here! Good luck for the next!

  10. Small Island Towns says:

    It’s hard to find knowledgeable people on this topic, but you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *