Lundy is an island 3 miles long and half a mile wide in the Bristol channel 10 miles from the North Devon coast. Presently it is best known for its colony of Puffin birds and the name is in fact derived from the Norse Lund meaning Puffin and Ey meaning Island. This reputation as a nature reserve, with its high cliffs and bird colonies brings a number of visitors to the island, usually aboard the MS Oldenburg that sails from Bideford or Ilfracombe. The journey usually takes around 2 hours to complete .
However behind this rather tranquil atmosphere is a very colourful and eventful history. Lundy has evidence of Neolithic visitors and there is an ancient burial ground on it. In the middle ages it was apparently bequeathed to the Knights Templar, although there is not much evidence of how much they used it. Later it was controlled by William de Marisco who built a fortress on it to protect himself against King Henry II who he had reportedly plotted against. The King's men eventually captured the island, put him to death and later built the castle there. In later years Lundy was controlled by Pirates and its caves have been used as a prison and to hide smuggling bounty.
Today Lundy its human inhabitants are far outnumbered by the birds, with over 280 species having been observed there. There is a small village, a pub called The Marisco Tavern (obviously named after William), a small church and two lighthouses (one no longer used). The lack of cars on the island also adds to its charm, but visitors also come for diving, walking and climbing in addition to bird watching. Lundy will always attract visitors who will marvel at its isolated, natural beauty.