LUNDY Island is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, or more correctly - since the island has been inhabited for upwards of 7,000 years - its latest milestone. The small granite island off the North Devon coast with its stunning scenery, history an

LUNDY Island is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, or more correctly - since the island has been inhabited for upwards of 7,000 years - its latest milestone.The small granite island off the North Devon coast with its stunning scenery, history and wildlife this year marks four decades of National Trust ownership and Landmark Trust management.Unfortunately a trip across to the island to mark the occasion, with officers of both trusts, volunteers and a gaggle of local and national media, had to be postponed after the MS Oldenburg was forced to return to Ilfracombe as sea conditions worsened."But," said Landmark Trust Director Peter Pearce speaking afterwards, "the example of why we could not get there is all part of what makes Lundy an exciting place.""As well as a wonderful place for nature conservation, its landscape and extraordinary archaeology, it's extremely popular with visitors, with 20,000 people per year making the trip aboard the Oldenburg."The anniversary celebration trip has been rescheduled for next month.Lundy - from the Norse meaning "puffin" - was likely visited by early fishermen on a seasonal basis as far back as 5,000 BC, with earliest confirmed settlements back to the Bronze Age around 1,500 BC. Early Christian settlements, medieval occupation, a fortified position, farming, animal husbandry and quarrying for granite were all uses for the island over the following centuries.Closer to the present, the National Trust acquired the island for £150,000 on September 28, 1969, made possible by a donation from Sir Jack Hayward. Then the Landmark Trust, under founder Sir John Smith, took over management of the island.When the trust took over there was a great deal of work to be done and in the succeeding 40 years the entire property has been renovated.More recent innovations have included a landing jetty for visiting vessels and the rebuilding of the beach road from the landing area to the top of the island, a "vital lifeline" in the words of Mr Pearce."In the past 40 years we have put the island on a footing where we can now be confident about the next 40," he said."In the beginning all the buildings were derelict, the sewage system was clapped out and there was no real jetty. The hotel had to be taken down and largely rebuilt - pretty much everything needed doing."It's a wonderful place to stay now, but you are still very conscious of that sense of being on an island!"Today it is home to a community of 26 people, who all work on the island. It even has its own fire station and coastguard crews, staffed by island volunteers.There are three lighthouses, the Marisco Tavern, a church, a farm and a shop on the island, which also has its own stamps, issued twice a year and the world's oldest private postal service.Lundy has its own recycling centre. Glass is broken down, mixed with aggregate and used as repair material, while cardboard becomes animal bedding or compost and larger or non-biodegradable items returned to the mainland for recycling.The wildlife attracts thousand each year. Lundy is the first Marine No Take Zone in the UK and the island has the largest seabird colony in the South West , including kittiwakes, guillemots, razorbills, puffins, manx shearwaters, fulmars and shags.Its isolation has led to many rare species, including the Lundy cabbage, found only on the island, plus feral Soay sheep, sika deer, goats, rabbits and numerous grey seals."How can I describe Lundy?" said Fiona Reynolds, Director-General of the National Trust. "As a family, we've spent a week on Lundy most Easters in the last seven years. Above all, thanks to the careful management of the Landmark Trust, it has the most amazing atmosphere. "Sheer cliffs and springy turf, wild winds and shady suntraps, characterful houses, the Oldenburg and the friendly pub and shop all add up to an essence that is Lundy."Peter Pearce concluded: "Lundy is one of those rare and magical places which influences peoples' lives far more than its tiny size would ever suggest. We pass this milestone with the island in better heart than ever, ready to greet and inspire its visitors for the next 40 years."Find out about visiting Lundy. Go to www.lundyisland.co.uk or call the Lundy Shore Office on (01271) 863636.