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Have you tried: Islandeering?

Written by Fiona

August 07 2019

Islandeering is the term for “bagging” an island by circumnavigation, whether on foot, by bike, swimming, coasteering or in a kayak. A book called Islandeering: Adventures Around the Edge of Britain’s Hidden Islands offers details of how to bag 50 of the UK’s islands.

I love this idea! Islandeering is like hill bagging, only you must go around an island instead of reaching a summit.

Islandeering: An idea

It was author of the Islandeering book, Lisa Drewe who came up with the idea. She writes: “It was the prospect of being stranded on Asparagus Island in Cornwall that inspired me.

“I was 12 at the time in 1979 and as far as my parents concerned our family holiday at the seaside had taken a turn for the worse when the incoming tide threatened to cut us off from the mainland. 

“But I was thrilled with the idea of exploring my very own lump of rock, surrounded by sea with the remaining picnic to sustain us.” 

This nugget of an idea turned into a hobby and as a student in the US, Lisa was drawn to the islands off Cape Hatteras. When she started to work, she spent all her holidays exploring islands in Hawaii, the Andaman Islands, Borneo, Iceland, Sri Lanka, the Canaries, Vancouver Island, Sicily and Cyprus, to name just a few.

She adds: “There was definitely a pattern emerging. A yearning to be in places of mystery and legend, places of breathtaking scenery and majestic wildlife. Places where cultures had kept their true identities. Places of peace and of difference.

“They were all islands.”

Lisa has turned her attention to the UK’s islands more recently. She has walked, cycled, swam, kayaked and visited many of the British isles. 

With more than 6000 islands to choose from, she has also faced the challenge of choosing 50 for her book, Islandeering.

More about the book: Islandeering

Islandeering details 50 walks around Britain’s islands. Each route includes location, distance, maps and highlights to look out for and discover. There is a range of walking grades with numbers to indicate difficulty, navigation and access. Local facilities are also detailed. 

The book is split into regional chapters and in Scotland there are 18 walks. The book also has lists of island walks under titles such as, “exploring caves”, “epic tidal crossings, “trail running”, glorious beaches”, “families” “skinny dips” and “spotting whales and dolphins”.

It’s worth noting that planning, especially for tides, is important. 

The book is published by Wild Things, which produce beautiful guides to all kinds of outdoor adventures. The book is filled with great photography and lots of detail. It is priced £16.99. Buy from Amazon for £13.88 or on Kindle for £7.99.

Other books include: The Scottish Bothy Bible and Wild Running.

Three Scottish ‘Islandeering’ circuits

Oronsay, Skye

Not to be confused with Oronsay, off Colonsay, the tiny Oronsay island off the north west coast of Skye offers a walk of almost 7km around the coast. Look out for a cave and tunnel on the south shore, fabulous views of the Outer Hebrides, north Skye and the Cuillin and wildlife, including golden eagles, otters, dolphins, gannets and many other seabirds.

For more details see Islandeering Oronsay.

Eriskay, South Uist

Located off South Uist in the Outer Hebrides, Eriskay is a small island with lots to see. The white sandy beaches are sublime, plus you can spot whales and dolphins, if you’re lucky, eagles and the famous Eriskay ponies. The walk detailed is 17km.

See Islandeering Eriskay.

Arran, Ayrshire

You could choose to cycle the coastal road of around 93km on Arran, or walk the Arran Coastal Way over about eight days. Enjoy great views of Arran and neighbouring islands, the chance to see seals and dolphins and some great cafes.

See Islandeering Arran.

See more on the Islandeering website, too.

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