Five of the best British island escapes

From a historic castle in the Isles of Scilly to a secluded cottage in Scotland. Chris Carter reports

On-trend glamping in Guernsey

The Channel Island of Guernsey has 27 beaches on its rugged coastline, each offering something a little different, says Sarah Hartley in The Mail on Sunday. The “huge sweeps of white sand” at Vazon Road, Cobo Bay or L’Ancresse Common are popular with families; surfers head for Portinfer. Saline Bay is a perfect spot amid the dunes for enjoying a “glorious sunset” and Le Gouffre has “fabulous views from its cafe and cliff walk”. As for places to stay, Camp de Rêves is the most “on-trend”. This “glamping” site enjoys views over the west coast, as well as “stunning sunsets over the Atlantic Ocean”. Its tents come equipped with a kitchen, bathroom with shower, lounge, private deck and private garden (from £143, guernseyglamping.com). Or for “an elegant and traditional take on Guernsey life”, stay at The Old Government House Hotel (£210, theoghhotel.com), in the heart of St Peter Port (pictured above).

Lundy’s rich seam of great British eccentricity

Puffins on Lundy Island

Lundy is a “tiny of sliver of England”, lying just north of Devon in the Bristol Channel, that takes its name from the resident puffins, which outnumber people 15 to one, says Daniel Stables on BBC Travel (“Lundy” means “Puffin Island” in Old Norse). It was from here that Vikings launched their raids from the eighth century. But “they were far from the first inhabitants” as the remains of Bronze Age hut circles attest. In the 13th century, a castle was added. “Lundy’s past is peopled with crazed pirates, renegade knights and crooked MPs, while several of the island’s former custodians have attempted to establish it as an independent kingdom with its own laws and currency; all expressions of a rich seam of great British eccentricity that remains in evidence on Lundy today.”

The island of adventure off Cornwall

Star Castle

There are thousands of islands in and around the British Isles, “each with their unique geography, geology, and wildlife”, says Richard Madden in The Daily Telegraph. Those looking for adventure, or just a drop of chardonnay, should head for St Mary’s, the largest of the Isles of Scilly, off Cornwall. There’s plenty to do on the island, from “whizzing around the small roads on an ebike to adventure-packed RIB rides and a spot of gin tasting”. Stay at Star Castle (pictured), a historic 16th-century hotel “built in the shape of an eight-pointed star, complete with moat and dungeon”. The hotel is “famed” for its historic setting, swimming pool and stunning views over Hugh Town, and makes for the perfect refuge after a day of discovery. Owner Robert Francis also runs the island’s Holy Vale vineyard, while still finding time to haul lobsters straight from the sea to be served in the hotel’s restaurant. “You’ll be hard-pushed to find fresher fare.” (From £327 per person in July, star-castle.co.uk.)

Conservation work in Carna

Carna Island

If you’ve ever dreamed of staying on your own secluded island, says Jessie Johnson in Coast magazine, then the Isle of Carna, off Scotland’s west coast, is an ideal spot for living out that fantasy. It is a “600-acre oasis, home to otters, eagles, orchids and just three houses”. Family run Carna House (from £841 for three nights, isleofcarna.co.uk), which sleeps eight, and Carna Cottage, sleeping six (from £750), are “idyllic bases” from which to explore the surrounding hills and mountains, and to gaze at the “vast, starry skies”. Guests are invited to participate in the “soil and earthworm survey” and, if the flora and fauna of the island “really captures your imagination”, there’s a chance to return for a month-long conservation holiday in winter.

Anglesey: a foodie haven 

Twr Mar Lighthouse on Llanddwyn Island

“Despite road and rail bridges, Anglesey, off the north-west coast of Wales, retains a distinct island identity: slower and less commercial than the mainland and still mostly Welsh-speaking”, says James Stewart in The Times. “You’ll come for walks and stellar beaches; top picks are Newborough near Llanddwyn Island (go at low tide), Trearddur and Rhoscolyn’s Borth Wen, followed by a pint at the White Eagle.” But it’s the food scene that will make you stick around on the island – try the Michelin-starred Sosban, farm-to-table Marram Grass and the cooked lobster sold from a shack in Benllech. Stay at gastropub The Bull (around £115, bullsheadinn.co.uk). 

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