Book your place on an exciting trip to Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s stunning Looe Island Nature Reserve, just off the coast at Looe. Trips begin on Monday 6 April and continue to September.
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The Trust’s only marine reserve, it was bequeathed to them in 2004 by sisters Babs and Evelyn ‘Attie’ Atkins. The sisters lived there fulltime. When Attie died at the age of 87 her elderly sister Babs was offered a multi-million-pound deal to turn the island into a theme park. She refused and bequeathed the island to Cornwall Wildlife Trust to ensure the protection of the wildlife and continued wild beauty of the place.
The Trust has been looking after the island ever since then, and work continues to protect and enhance the beauty of this marine nature reserve. A natural sanctuary for sea and woodland birds, the waters around the island are teaming with life.
Work by the Trust since those early days has included the introduction of a flock of Hebridean sheep, the creation of wildflower meadows, woodlands, and clearing the shrub, with the help of volunteers.
The nature reserve is home to many nesting birds such as cormorants, shags and oystercatchers. It has the largest breeding colony in Cornwall of the majestic great black-backed gull. With a wingspan of around 1.5m, this species uses its size to its advantage robbing other sea birds of their catch as a means of obtaining food.
The island is also home to grey seals. With adult males around 2m long and weighing over 200 kg they are Britain's largest mammal. These spectacular creatures are often seen from the island.
The trip to Looe Island starts with a boat trip from Looe’s bustling fishing harbour. On the island visitors are greeted by a resident Cornwall Wildlife Trust warden and learn about the fascinating nature and history of the island. During the three-hour stay visitors also discover how the island is run without services such as mains water, electricity from the grid, and shops.
After the guided walk, which includes a tour of the self-sufficiency fruit and vegetable plots, there is a one hour opportunity to independently explore the island or join the warden for a picture show in Jetty Cottage. Also on offer are specialist guided walks looking at birds with Derek Spooner and history walks with local historian and author Mark Camp. Spring visits offer the chance to witness seabirds breeding along the dramatic coast and also to enjoy wonderful displays of wildflowers, while those opting for a summer walk can expect the nature reserve to be alive with insects and the 15 different species of butterflies recorded on the Island.
For more details please and to book a guided walk please go to www.cornwallwildlifetrust.org.uk/looe-island/guided-walks
Adult oystercatcher on Looe Island, by Sue Sayer
Looe Island view by Paul Lightfoot