An explorer's guide to the islands of Britain

Canvey Island Dr Feelgood

Day 4 of our virtual island bagging journey

Today’s journey: heading east from Looe Island, Cornwall to Sheppey Island, Kent

Today’s step-up height achieved: 443 metres

With the sound of gulls still ringing in our ears we left Looe Island and headed straight to the Bristol Channel. First up Lundy and Beacon Hill (143m) being careful not to step on the puffins. Then (in our dreams) we jumped onto the Cardiff Safari RIB and rode SAS-style across to Steepholm (78 m), doing several laps of the island with a torch to see the wartime bunkers.

With the Bristol Channel’s second highest tidal range in the world we had a long beach walk back to the RIB before scooting over to Flatholm (32m). This island doesn’t do what it says on the tin and the first thing we had to do was climb the cliff path. The ruins of its isolation hospital, originally built to quarantine diseased sailors returning to Britain, seemed to ring a bell at the back of my mind but I couldn’t think why.

Continuing in Wales with a quick bag of Wentwood (37 m) on Barry Island, I topped up my seasickness on the Star Flyer. Then back across the Channel and into Dorset for a civilised picnic on Brownsea Island, Dorset  (27m) with lashings of ginger beer shared with the red squirrels, peacocks and the spirit of the Scouts.

Next stop Portsea (8m) and a quick salute to our Royal Navy before a short ferry ride to Hayling Island (10m) in Hampshire with an adrenaline rush on the Runaway Mine Train ride and then a quick trail run up the Hayling Billy Trail and along the coastal walk to neighbouring Thorney (10m) before we headed off to Essex.

Now there’s a big bang for the buck for high points in Essex so we’ll leave the lower islands until tomorrow. We just did Canvey (16m) singing ‘They got him on milk and alcohol’ (you’ve got to work out why) before hopping next door to Two Tree (7m) and seeing our first avocets from the bird hide.

Only one more to go today. Sheppey in Kent (76m) where we bivvied the night at Elmley National Nature Reserve, listening to the owls and waders hoot and holler all night.

Tomorrow the rest of the Essex islands and maybe crossing the border to Scotland where we are picking up a new team member to help us with the challenge.

Cumulative total of island bagging height – 1383 metres

Method of travel – climbing a ladder up the apple tree in the garden

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