Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Introduction

I’ve always loved islands.  I’m not sure why but I think it has something to do with clearly defined boundaries and edges.  I’ve always thought it would be strange to live in a landlocked country where the boundaries have changed over time and are largely political rather than geographical.

Adam Nicolson describes his (and my) feelings about islands perfectly in his book Sea Room, which is about the three Shiant Islands in the Outer Hebrides:
 
 "Islands are made larger, paradoxically, by the scale of the sea that surrounds them.  The element which might reduce them, which might be thought to besiege them, has the opposite effect.  The sea elevates these few acres into something they would never be if hidden in the mass of the mainland.  The sea makes islands significant."

and 
 
"Islands, because of their isolation, are revelatory, places where the boundaries are wafer thin."

My mission is to visit as many of the British Isles as possible i.e. islands offshore from the British mainland or Ireland.  I am not including islands in rivers or lakes and I am not intending to have to swim to any islands or to charter a boat especially to get me there.  I estimate that there are around 450 islands that can be visited by scheduled boat trips and ferries, by air, by walking to them at low tide or by bridge/causeway.

My personal definition of an island is as follows:

1.  It must have a name

AND

2.   be composed of solid land, some of which is above the high tide level at all times

AND

3.   Be surrounded by water for at least part of each day.  I have included islands that are connected to other islands or the mainland by bridges or causeways.  I have included tidal islands.

AND

4.    Be inhabited now for at least part of the year or have been inhabited in the past.

OR

5.  Have enough grass to graze one or two sheep in the summer – this part of the definition is adapted from that in the 1861 Scottish Census.

In order for an island to be added to my 'collection' I need to have stood on it for at least 5 minutes.  Just viewing it from the sea or from the mainland or another island is not enough.  

I will add a post for each island I have visited in the order I visited them.  Many of them I have visited on more than one occasion but there will usually only be one post for each of them.  All the photos I will use were taken by me or by a friend who has given me permission to use them.

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