Saturday, 5 November 2016

A Trip to the Copeland Islands

 
For years I have been planning to go to the Copeland so eventually Smudge and I were off. The photo above was on the boat on the way back when it started to rain but it had been a perfect Autumn day before that.
 We set off from Donaghadee harbour for a 20 minute smooth boat trip. Smudge was extremely nervous and cuddled tightly into me on my knee. However as soon as I lifted her onto the island she was in her element, as so much to explore and sniff.
About halfway across it was quite choppy but I was amazed I didn't feel sick or anxious maybe cause my focus was on Smudge. Some friends of mine happened to have booked the same trip so we had quite an adventure together. We also had a complete stranger who joined us as we walked through beach, rocks, grass and reeds.

 
 

We walked to the right initially following the shore but then decided as we didn't have time to circumnavigate the whole of the island we would cut through the middle to see if we could find any seals. There had been dolphins earlier in the week but not today.
 
We found old roads and imagined how it would have been to live here with no utilities. Very different today just using it for a holiday getting away from civilisation. It appears the Copeland name may have came from the de Coupland family who came to the Newtownards peninsula in the 12th Century.
  There are three islands included in the Copeland Islands: the Great Copeland Island, the Lighthouse Island (which does not have a lighthouse now) and Mew Island which does have a lighthouse. Over a century ago the Lighthouse Island had a population of about 100, including a school master with 28 pupils. In 1671 James Ross obtained a fee farm grant of these and in 1770 David Kerr purchased the islands from the Earl of Clanbrassil. As the islands were a danger to ships a light beacon was made on the Lighhouse Island (Cross Island) in about 1715, it burned over 400 tons of coal every year. In 1796 the new British and Irish Lighthouse Board announced the erection of oil lamps and in 1813 the new lighthouse was built. In 1884 a new lighthouse was built on Mew Island. In 1954 the Bird Observatory was established by Arnold Bennington. Until the 20th century, the islands were used by smugglers who brought tobacco and spirits through the islands and into County Down(Wikipedia)
We thoroughly enjoyed our exploration but we're even keener to find some seals so we walked until we could see the other islands.
 














We had to be careful about our time as we didn't want to miss the boat back but just around the corner we got to see some seals. First of all we saw an adult head in the distance then a grey pup. I climbed round a bit further to find a pup basking.however when I tried to alert the others with encouragement from its mum it scuttled into the water toward her. It was amazing to see and we then kept our distance so as not to frighten them.

 
 
  
Having met the seals we were ready to ramble back to the boat. A rainbow appeared with a very light shower.
 
Smudge really didn't see what the fuss was about the seals she was more interested in rolling in seaweed.
 
 

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