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Lisa Drewe’s comprehensive guide to exploring the surprising variety of islands around our coasts

Book Review


England and Wales may not be countries you associate with possessing a huge variety of islands. There are well-known and popular spots of course; The Isle of Wight, The Isle of Man, Anglesey, the Scilly Isles… I might manage twenty or so if I thought about it. So prepare to be somewhat amazed when you pick up ‘Island Bagging’ by Lisa Drewe.

A self-confessed islomaniac, Lisa has spent the last twelve years poring over maps and exploring around 500 of the islands around the UK coasts, in order to bring you this comprehensive and inspiring guide. For someone who loves maps and finding wild places, this was a book I was excited to read.

So how do you ‘bag’ an island? Lisa suggests a slow exploration, meeting islanders where possible, enjoying local food and immersing the natural environment. The islands featured vary from those well populated with thriving communities, to remote, uninhabited, wild islets. Fancy a drink at Fraggle Rock? Want to meet Billy Idol or visit the birthplace of Windsurfing? This book will show you how.

Black Nab

Island Bagging features some beautiful photography, capturing extraordinarily tropical-looking swathes of beach, rugged and rocky outcrops, and an array of interesting and sometimes exotic wildlife. Each island projects a unique character, sometimes surrounded by crystal calm seas, sometimes moody and dark under lowering skies – the epitome of British landscapes. The subject matter mixes evocative tales of cannibals and pilgrims, alongside beguiling descriptions of relaxed island life. 

The information in the book is extensive and well ordered, with a useful key and maps dividing the islands into regions, so you can quickly plan an adventure around a visit to a particular location. Lisa focusses on, and successfully captures, the wild, outdoor aspects of the islands, as opposed to a list of potential entertainments available there. Her passion for these geographical outliers is evident throughout. It’s a book that encourages adventure and respectful exploration, listing great wild swim spots and possibilities for numerous outdoor, adventurous activities. There are some useful additional resources listed and Lisa’s experience is much in evidence as she highlights methods of transport to reach the islands, (kayak or paddleboard sound particularly appealing) and also advises of potential issues such as tides, and visitor impacts on island flora and fauna.

Herm island
Wind Surfing at Hayling Island
Island Bagging by bike
Anglesey Island

Island Bagging is a book you can dip in and out of, and never run out of places to explore. Much in the same vein as the ‘Wild Guide’ series of books, perfect to pick up with a cup of tea, make a few notes and plan your next weekend’s microadventure. You’ll find endless places you’ve never been, and that in itself is a pretty good reason for anyone with an adventurous streak to bag a copy of this book.  

Want to win a copy of England and Wales Island Bagging? Just enter your name and email below and we’ll pop you in the free draw!

Island Bagging by Lisa Drew is published by Vertebrate Publishing. You can purchase a copy of Island Bagging here.

Lisa Drewe’s website Islandeering has further information and ideas for exploring the UK’s islands.

“Believe me, these are special wild places and they sit just off our shore.”

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