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See the island where puffins outnumber people

See the island where puffins outnumber people

With puffins outnumbering people 15 to one, the tiny Lundy island has endured a history of crazed pirates, renegade knights and shoddy MPs.

Now, the island lying just north of Devon is a protected nature reserve, bird-watchers’ paradise, and home to just 26 people. 

“The beauty of Lundy is that it hasn't changed for many, many years; it’s like stepping back to the 1950s,” said Derek Green, the island’s general manager. “There are very few vehicles, no pollution, no noise, lots of woodlife. It’s a place that is untouched by the modern world.”

The island has been occupied for centuries by people from all walks of life, and was named for its legacy as a base of operations by Viking raiders from the 8th century A.D.

“The name Lundy means ‘puffin island’ in Old Norse,” Green said. “Lundy’s history is long and colourful.

“There’s evidence of Bronze Age occupation in the remains of hut circles in the north, there’s a 13th century castle and there’s a long history of shipwrecks. There are three lighthouses; that’s unique for such a small island.”

The island is home to a collection of historical stone buildings to the south known simply as the village, including staff and visitor accommodation, a pub, a shop, and a 19th century Anglican church.

While the rest of the 5km-long and kilometre-wide island is covered in grassy meadows, the old castle, a former naval signal station, and the ruins of a Victorian quarry can be found scattered around the island.

“The island’s topography and habitats are really quite special,” said Dean Woodfin Jones, Lundy’s warden.

“Thousands of seabirds come here in the summer to breed: puffins, guillemots, Manx shearwaters, storm petrels. There’s also a really important Atlantic seal colony.”

Rare species of flora can also be found on the island, including the endemic Lundy cabbage that grows nowhere else in the world.

Though the island’s future looked perilous with the drop in tourism during the pandemic, a mixture of donations and government grants has secured the island’s future and ensured its inhabitants can continue their conservation work.

Photo credits: lundylandmark / Instagram