Exploring Burgh Island in Devon

Burgh Island at low tide in Devon, England. Photo © Scott Ramsey. Early records show the name of the island to be St Michael's Island and also Borough Island but these days people know it as Burgh Island. The island inspired the English writer, Agatha Christie, who used it as inspiration for Soldier Island in her mystery novel And Then There Were None

Burgh Island In Devon

Day 2.5 The Photographers Eye Road Trip

Beautiful Burgh Island is located just off the coast of South Devon, England and is only a short walk from the nearby town of Bigbury-On-Sea. It's a tidal island which means that during high tide the island is cut off and can only be visited via a boat or by hitching a ride on the Sea Tractor, a marvellous contraption that carries visitors high above the waves. Shrouded in history and legends in the past smugglers and wreckers plundered cargo from ships they had wrecked on the jagged rocks. It has a 700 year old inn, The Pilchard Inn, which is rumoured to have been a favourite drinking place for the notorious smuggler Tom Crocker. There is a Grade II listed Art Deco Hotel called the Burgh Island Hotel which has welcomed famous guests such as Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson, Winston Churchill, The Beatles and Agatha Christie. 

I hope you enjoy looking around the island with me (watch my Vlog episode below) and if you get the chance to visit in person I highly recommend The Pilchard Inn ;-) 

YouTube Video - Day two of my photography road trip to SW England and I visit Burgh Island in Devon.

Postcards From Burgh Island

The Pilchard Inn on Burgh Island, Devon, England. Photo © Scott Ramsey. These days the Pilchard Inn serves holiday makers with a pint and crab sandwich however during the early part of it's 700 year history pilchard fisherman, smugglers and even wreckers would have visited. During the 17th and 18th Century smuggling was part of everyday life with smugglers and wreckers working together to lure unsuspecting ships onto the Western rocks.

The Burgh Island Sea Tractor. Photo © Scott Ramsey. The sea tractor is used to transport hotel guests (The island has an Art Deco style hotel) and day trippers from the mainland, across the submerged causeway and onto the island during high tide. Very popular in the 1930s, these vehicles can travel through shallow water allowing people to have a scenic tour along the coastline without getting their feet wet.

The Pilchard Inn on Burgh Island in Devon, England. Photo © Scott Ramsey. The inn was built in 1336 and was an ideal place for smugglers to stay hidden from the law. It is small compared to today's standards with only a bar, a roaring fire and few stools inside. If only the walls could talk, just imagine the wonderful stories they could tell. 

The Pilchard Inn on Burgh Island. Photo © Scott Ramsey. One of the Pilchard Inn's most notorious visitors is the renowned smuggler Tom Crocker. It is rumoured that Tom based himself on Burgh Island and regularly visited the Pilchard Inn and was shot outside, reports of his ghost returning on the anniversary of his death each year on or around the 14th August. 

The Gate to the Burgh Island Hotel in Devon, England. Photo © Scott Ramsey. Originally a wooden house used by guests as a weekend retreat in the 1890s the very popular Art Deco style hotel was built in 1927 by the filmmaker Archibald Nettlefold. Now a Grade II listed building, Burgh Island Hotel has been visited by such notable guests as Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson, Winston Churchill and The Beatles to name just a few.

A footpath on Burgh Island in Devon, England. Photo © Scott Ramsey. The footpath runs along the west side of the island and rewards walkers with beautiful views across the sea towards Plymouth. 

Cliffs on Burgh Island in Devon, England. Photo © Scott Ramsey. Carved by years of waves eroding the land, large rocks protrude into the sea along the coast of the island. The famous artist Joseph Mallord William Turner visited the island in the 1800s and sketched a series of drawings called the Cliffs on Burgh Island

Rocky Footpath on Burgh Island, Devon, England. Photo © Scott Ramsey. The first time I visited Burgh Island I stood at this exact spot and saw my first seal in the wild, playing around in the water below. Unfortunately on this trip I had no such luck, never mind it just gives me another reason to visit beautful Burgh Island again ;-)

In 2012 musician Ben Howard released The Burgh Island EP. It contains 4 beautiful songs, two of which I particular love, To Be Alone & Burgh Island. You can listen to the tracks on Spotify at - Ben Howard The Burgh Island EP. I hope you enjoyed exploring Burgh Island with me.

Prints are available to buy from my online Photography Gallery. Every sale helps to fund future road trips and continue to document life in the UK ;-)