This Remote U.K. Island Home to a Rare Breed Of Wild Ponies And A 13th-century Castle, Where You Can Stay the Night

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Lundy Island is located in the Bristol Channel and is the ideal place to discover the U.K.’s stunning natural scenery.

The heliport steward informs us that it is quite tight. There’s not much space for our feet. There isn’t much room for feet. We are sitting in the Lundy Heliport waiting room, which strangely looks like a Scout hut. The walls are plastered with informative conservation boards — details on a zero-rat policy to protect seabirds like Lundy’s beloved puffins, an explanation on the migration pattern of sharks, and, of course, a tiny section dedicated to the Lundy ponies. As you stare at the 40 or more people waiting to get a helicopter, it is easy to see what factor attracted them. remote British island. Do they find the ponies interesting?

A group of six is filed out at one time and then ushered into a single file to the open door. Helicopter number five has departed; we are now number six.

<p>Teri Symons/Getty Images</p>

Helicopter six is called and we doggedly rise. The luggage building is now ready to weigh us. There are only six people in line for boarding. The process takes about five minutes and the Lundy helicopter, after a quick refueling, is ready to go. We are also strapped in after a minute or so. To communicate with the pilot, I’m wearing a designated “headset passengers”. The helicopter moves forward and then rises into the air. Six minutes later, the helicopter crosses the channel and lands on Lundy Island. We are ready to follow the rare wild horse breeds of the island.

Lundy ponies were established in 1928 by Martin Coles Harman, an ex-island owner. Shipping 42 New Forest mares He brought in fillies from the mainland and allowed the animals to roam the island. He then brought in a Welsh Mountain horse, strawberry-roan in colour, in 1930. Pepper, a dun-colored pony, was one of the stallion’s sons and he took over as herd leader. Pepper is responsible for the long line of dun ponies that grace the island.

Harman enjoyed peace and prosperity with his wild ponies. Only one pony-related incident occurred when there was a slight excess population during Word War II. Excess ponies couldn’t be shipped over to the mainland. Lundy’s story changed only when Harman’s child, Albion Harman died in 1969. Lundy’s legacy was insecure and no one knew who to take it over. It was a good thing that Lundy’s legacy was preserved. National Trust It was taken to the island. The National Pony Society Lundy ponies’ future was his responsibility. As they say, the rest is history.

On my visit, with a thick coat to fight the December breeze, I walk straight from the heliport landing through the village and toward the quarter wall — the spot that the ponies are rumored to prefer.

<p>Paul Hayward/Getty Images</p>

Paul Hayward/Getty Images

I am greeted by a group five ponies as soon as I open the gate that separates the village and the wilderness. I am only a few feet away from them, and they are grazing in apathetically. This raises the question about how wild these ponies really are. A dun mare with one eye blue and one eye brown looks at me almost as if to confirm my thoughts. She then slumps down to the ground to take a rest. I am captivated by her attitude and sit down with her on the ground, scratching her neck, and watching the other mares. Although they are in good health, the three bays and one other dun appear quite old. Lundy ponies don’t have natural predators and are used hiking so their laid-back attitude is a good fit, especially for those who are past 20.

As I head towards the coast, I begin to descend a flight of muddy stones steps. I notice hoof prints that show the ponies have successfully climbed the same steps in the past. Admirable is the sure-footedness and agility of this herd. You can see adorable mountain goats with curled hair and beards further up the grassy cliffside track. But, I’m not able to get the goat photo shoot I want. It is interrupted before it starts by a loud shriek. I am startled and my head lifts to see a herd Japanese sikadeer watching me from high up on the cliffs. It all feels very “Bambi-esque”. Harman clearly had an eclectic taste for wildlife.

<p>Eibhlis Gale-Coleman</p>

As far as pony sightings, the rest of my hike was pretty unsuccessful. I’m astonished to see ravens on the cliffs. There’s a herd of highland cattle, too, and a few more deer shrieks — although none reappeared, so they must have been observing me from some hidden spot. After looping the entire headland I return to the gate, and ironically, this is the rest of the herd. These are the middle-aged mares and the young horses. There is a bit more tension in the herd, with different mares pushing each other around in displays dominance. I quickly make a mental note to avoid getting teeth and feet.

As if to say hello, a little dun colt walks up and greets us. He is the first male pony that I have seen. He seems friendly and more open to engaging and seeking out human company. Our interaction does not last long, though, as a strawberry roan mare walks up and bites him on the bum — a clear message to move on and stop talking to this strange woman. She also doesn’t seem interested to meet me. A small bay mare comes from the other side. Another bay mare approaches me, curious and friendly. She puts her nose up to mine to smell me. After about a minute of interaction, the strawberry roan mare returns to her ears with her ears pinned back. She then moves on to the little bay and gives me a sour face. I know it is over. “Hint taken,” she says, and I begin walking back to the village.

<p>Eibhlis Gale-Coleman</p>

My stomach is beginning to grumble after I have been hiking for three hours and seeing the herd. The 19th-century Marisco Tavern The promise of fresh Cornish pale ale and fish and chips is what calls me. While I wait for my food, I spot a large blue folder entitled “Lundy Ponies — Sponsorship.” The folder includes photos of every pony found on the island and all their details including birth date, name, breeding lineage, and more. St. John was the name of the friendly dun colt and Fiona was a little bay mare. The boss — a.k.a. the strawberry roan mare — was Tibbets Anne, born in 2019. A refreshing drink and full stomach are a great way to enjoy the ponies’ stories.

You can take a ferry back to Lundy Island if you visit between April and September. This is December and no ferry can navigate the narrow channel and rugged Lundy coastline. I will be cut off from the mainland for three more days until the next helicopter arrives on Monday. To stop the Lundy Island rebellion from spreading, Henry III ordered me to stay in a castle built in 13th century. This is a very exciting option for accommodation, but I’m still apprehensive about the fact that electricity is cut between midnight and 6 am. I ask the bartender what to do to check in. She tells me to just walk out of the pub, and then turn left. “The keys are in the door, and it’s the big castle — you won’t miss it”.

Monday seems far away. But I am certain that I will return to the herd tomorrow. Maybe I’ll be able befriend Tibbets Anne during that time. Maybe not. We may not be friends for long.

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