Despite staying on Lundy many times over the last 25 years, we had never been for Christmas. In the week up to our planned flight day, we were seriously wondering if we would manage it this time. Helicopters can fly in just about anything, but fog and the forecast was mist, low cloud and fog!
We had been watching the weather all week. It was getting warmer but we all knew that promised mist for days to come. Late on the evening of Wednesday 20th, I received a Facebook PM from Derek asking if we could be at Hartland International Airport by 6:45 on Friday. This was soon followed by further exchanges of messages with cryptic comments from him and Shelley warning us to be prepared for an unusual trip. “Don’t wear your best clothes and bring a sense of adventure.” was the message.
We duly arrived at HIA at 06:30 to find a large queue of vehicles lit by headlights with “Auntie Wainwright” causing chaos, dodging between cars and refusing to open the car park gates until everyone had paid her charges, given registration numbers and names. She did miss out her usual refrain of “Have you been here before?” though.
|Waiting at Clovelly quay|
Thirty-six people left our luggage and boarded the waiting coach bound for Clovelly. At the coach park we transferred to 3 landrovers to be ferried down the back road to wait for our next transfer in the Red Lion. This had been opened specially for us and offered toilets and hot drinks while we waited.
|Our boat the Carrick Lee|
We were the first wave of 60-odd passengers to be taken by small boat to Lundy. A little later than expected, the 3 boats arrived and we climbed down the slippery quay steps helped by Derek, Graham, Dean and Zoe. With 12 people in each of the Shelley N, Carrick Lee and Blue Fin we were slightly delayed by Blue Fin developing an engine fault en route from Ilfracombe that meant she was much slower and less maneouverable than the other two boats.
After a much less bumpy ride that we normally get in the Oldenburg, we arrived at the jetty around 10:00. Those leaving the island were waiting with their luggage and we swapped places with them and said bon voyage to them and Rob and Sue who were going to the mainland for a short break. We then headed up the hill for our complimentary breakfast and got to know our fellow travellers in the much quieter atmosphere of the Marisco Tavern.
|Leaving misty Clovelly|
The delays meant that the tided was out when the 3 boats returned to Clovelly. What was planned as a quick and simple transfer for both sets of passengers turned into a Herculean effort to complete the task. Low tide meant the Oldenburg was way off shore and the 3 small boats could not get into the quay. Passengers and luggage had to be transferred from the shingle beach into small boats, then to RIBs then to the bigger boats. This all took time and effort as not everyone was as agile as the patient staff who got soaked.
The job was completed when the last boat, Blue Fin arrived at the same time as the Oldenburg at the jetty. The tide was now so low at 16:30 that the Oldenbug tied up and the Blue Fin tied up alongside her. Passengers climbed from Blue Fin into the Oldenburg’s passenger hatch, through and up the stairs to cross the gangway onto the jetty thus avoiding the vertical ladder climb.
|Oldenburg and Blue Fin - 16:30 final load|
Lundy staff finally finished work after 13 hours non-stop at 19:00 when they delivered out luggage and pre-ordered shopping.
I had always wanted to travel from Clovelly to Lundy.
This was the best Christmas present ever.
|Christmas Day lunch in the Marisco Tavern|