Island holidays are usually associated with white-sand beaches full of palm trees, endless sunshine and exotic places. Be it the Canaries, the Caribbean islands or the Philippines, the word ‘island’ itself gets people excited. However, we shouldn’t forget that the UK holds an array of beautiful islands too, perhaps not rewarded with as much sunshine as the others but no less charming. Here are five of the best ones.
Lewis and Harris
A visit to the largest island in Scotland feels like travelling back in time to the mysterious past. In the northern part of the island – Lewis – the renowned Callanish Standing Stones form a mystical and large rock city. The Carloway Broch and the Blackhouse let the modern traveller get in touch with the past and take a look at the island’s life long ago. The southern part – Harris – possesses beaches with ancient rocks, claimed to be the oldest in the whole world. Would you like to make your friends at home jealous? Head to Luskentyre beach during the sunset for a mind-blowing view and a stunning photo opportunity. Make sure to take something to sit on as there is a high chance of you wanting to sit down and watch the sun slowly sinking over the horizon forever.
Also known as Ynys Môn for Welsh speakers, much of its coastline has been declared an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). As soon as you arrive here, you will understand why. Lligwy Beach is a lovely place backed by cliffs and unspoilt by development, perfect for dog owners and family fun. There is lots of space here for everyone to enjoy but going on weekdays would make it even more personal experience with less tourists. The recently renovated Plas Cadnant Hidden Gardens now shine brighter than ever before. The ten acres of gardens are full of odd plants and a flowing river with waterfalls. The traditional Tea Room serves luscious homemade cakes to compensate the energy used to stroll across. With a free main car park and visitors centre, South Stack Cliffs RSPB Reserve is the place to go for nature. As good as the things you see on some wildlife TV programs. Expect spectacular views out to sea from steep cliffs and a range of seabirds and animals. If you’re lucky enough, you may even spot a porpoise!
The Holy Island of Lindisfarne
Despite being a tiny tidal island off the northeast coast of England with just over 160 inhabitants, this island attracts more than 650, 000 visitors every year and not without reason. The place is renowned for its medieval religious heritage and a small charming castle built in 1550, atop the volcanic mound known as Beblowe Craig. These objects, as well as most of the residents, are situated on the Southern part of the island. Tourists come here for calm and restfulness which dwell in still beaches and distinctive natural history. Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve is a dream for any bird-watcher with dozens of swallows, kestrels, crows, redshanks, jackdaws, to name but a few. The only drawback of the island is that if you want to stay overnight on the island, there are only about 40 rooms available, thus booking as far ahead as possible is recommended.
National Geographic recently voted Skye as the 4th best island in the world, so it’s got to be true. There are a number of reasons why it took such a high prize. Get your sturdy hiking shoes and reliable waterproofs ready to conquer Quiraing landslip and you will see why – jaw-dropping Lord of The Rings looking nature vistas are guaranteed. If you’re cheeky enough, you may even take a bottle of wine to enjoy the sunset. For the best family fun, there is Armadale Activities where you can try archery, axe throwing, air rifles and clay pigeon shooting. Book in advance so you can also see Clan Donald castle, gardens and museum. Mysterious abandoned lighthouses, lots of wildlife, clear Scottish water at a 1000 foot headland rising out of a crashing ocean – this is what Neist Point is about. Head to Skye to see it all because my mere words aren’t able to depict it’s beauty.
Under the ownership of the National Trust, there is an 18th-century Italianate house located on Derwent Island which is the only building on a tiny island. The house has inhabitants all year round but is open to public visits only five days per year. A short trip across the lake in a canoe and you are already standing on the isle, checking out the beautiful house, garden and learning about the past life of the island. People from all walks of life used to own the house, from monks to royalty, even German miners who worked in the area and brewed their own beer. The last version of the house was built by Joseph Pocklington. Plan your holiday according to the open days to make sure you can enjoy this unique opportunity!