St Mary’s Island
Looking at the global map you see quite clearly the shape of Great Britain, consisting of the majority of England, Scotland and Wales. That is the name of the big large recognisable island. However did you know that the British Isles consists of over 6000 Islands. Out of shore all around are land masses ranging from the larger likes of Anglesey and Isle of Wight to tiny rocky islands and yes, thousands of them. At the bottom of this post is a clever video that very quickly does explain the difference between United Kingdom, Britain, British Isles, England and a whole lot more but I want to show just a few of the isles that at low tide become part of the mainland, enough to stroll to. There are 43 tidal islands all together, here are only a few.
St Mary’s Island
Off the coast at Whitley Bay those that have been to the area will know the sight of the tall white lighthouse on St Mary’s Island. The lighthouse was built in the 1800s and visitors can climb the steps to the top. That is when you get across as when high tide arrives it becomes a true island. Hundreds of years ago the island had a chapel that within its walls contained the light of St Katherine. This was written wrong at some point as St Mary and thus the name we have today. There was once a pub there too, hard to believe it was closed down due to noisyness?
St Michael’s Mount
Off the coast of Cornwall and perhaps the most famously iconic of these types of island with a castle standing proud at the top. St Michael’s Mount has a large history, more of which can be discovered here. Some of the history shrouded in myth and geographical upheaval. Old monasteries, royal visits, destruction by tsunamis has had it all and more. What we have today is a magnificent view from the British mainland when the tide is out or low a man made causeway path appears and a walk out to discover awaits.
The Worm’s Head
Over into Wales and pretty much all of the coast of Wales is worth an adventure on foot. For a lovely tidal island head to the Gower peninsular with Worm’s head. The name comes from not what you think but the Welsh word for Dragon. A small but inviting tidal island amongst the sandy bays but please check local tide timings/warnings before venturing. It can change rapidly and cut you off.
Scotland, of course famed for many of it’s offshore islands. A great example of one of its tidal ones is Davaar, off the east coast of Kintyre. Seperated from the mainland by a shingle causeway passable only at low tide (takes about 40 minutes). You would then join the population of 2 plus the sheep and goats. Wilderness. I love it.
In the North West of England, at the end of the River Dee sits a group of islands the largest of which is Hilbre. Uninhabited now but throughout history it is known to have had life in the stones age, pilgrimage in the middle ages, a rock factory for salt and a pub. Many tourists take the time to walk over there. It is a nature reserve with seals, unique plants and birds of many types. Beware again of tides as it is surrounded by sea for at least 5 hours in every 12 and can be a lot more unpredictable than that. Check local information.
And I make my way back down to Cornwall. Gugh is out in the Scilly Isles. Designated an area of outstanding beauty. Only 0.5 miles wide it can be walked to from it’s larger neighbour St Agnes. At low tide the sand bank reveals itself and you can stroll scross. A very calm place to be down out on the bottom tip of Britain.
OK, as I said above I wanted to share a video I found a while back that quickly but aptly explains the difference between UK, Britain etc etc. You may have to watch more than once to ‘get it’ hehe 😉