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Lundy Island

Art Retreat, UK 

2025 Art Retreat, Lundy Island, U.K.

Imagine waking up to the gentle sounds of nature, surrounded by the unspoilt rugged beauty of Lundy and then joining me and just a handful of other guests for a day of exploration and painting on this remote British Island.

 

Restricted to just 10 artists at a time these dates offer you the chance to join a very select party of guests on this painting adventure. Bookings are now open for the 3rd-8th and 10th-15th May 2025.

 

Lundy Island is an area of natural beauty and exceptional biodiversity, cushioned between the Bristol Chanel and the Atlantic Ocean. This exclusive retreat is designed for artists of all levels, offering a perfect blend of nature, creativity, exploration and tranquility.

A unique opportunity to stay on the island! 

The Lundy retreat has been a year in the making. After two visits over to the island and meetings with the conservation team and head warden,  I’ve created an experience which is by its very nature special. 

 

Scarcity of accommodation on Lundy island has meant a lot of forward planning but I’ve managed to secure 2 dates in May of 2025 in the historic Milcombe House, the largest of all the island’s properties. May is one of the key months to visit Lundy as it is when the 1400 puffins come to nest on the island. It’s also a time when the elusive Manx Shearwater population are breeding on Lundy. They stay at sea all day and return to land after dark, nesting in their burrows. Only their eerie nocturnal cries give away their presence! 

 

With experiences like these, Lundy will stay in your mind long after you’ve left its rugged shores.  Unlike many other art retreats, when these spots have gone, then they’re gone as we won’t be able to put on any more dates due the scarcity of accommodation during this key breeding season.

 

I hope to see you there!

 

Sarah Stokes

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Sealife

Reconnect with nature and creativity; be part of the Lundy conservation story.

Having visited the beautiful U.K. Island of Lundy in February of this year, I’ve handpicked this particular location because it offers such a varied array of subjects, from highland cows, mountain goat, deer and wild ponies through to puffins, seals and colourful rock pool inhabitants. Lundy Island offers dramatic cliffs, scenic coastlines and colourful underwater sea life, providing endless inspiration for painting and photography… and all this packed into a 3 mile radius!

 

The staff working for Lundy Trust are all passionate conservationists and will be on hand to talk about the diversity of the island’s wildlife and their success story in restoring the number of rare breeds, most notably the Manx shearwater and Puffin populations. 40,000 rare breeds now thrive on its shores. Even though self exploration is encouraged, guided walks will also be available throughout the retreat, led by Conservation volunteers or Landmark Trust staff. 

With a 4 mile “no-take” zone, Lundy Island boasts the UK’s first Marine Conservation Zones with protected habitats that are ideal for diving and snorkelling, offering glimpses of marine life and historic ship wrecks. During your stay on the island, you will be able to take part in guided walks, nature talks and rockpool rambles with the Lundy Trust Team (subject to availability).You're also welcome to make your own arrangements if you'd like to take part in extra curricular diving and snorkeling excursions or boat trips around the island. With 10,000 guillemots, 3,500 razorbills, 25,000 Manx Shearwater and nearly 1400 puffins, this tiny U.K. island is a refreshing success story when it comes to the fight against declining bird populations. And you can be part of the story by recording your sightings in the Island’s log book kept at the historic Marisco Tavern. What better place to paint wildlife!

 

Preserved by the National Trust and managed by The Landmark Trust, the island is steeped in history dating back to the still visible tablets of a 5th Century Celtic burial ground, the 13th Century Marisco Castle and a range of Victorian-era buildings, providing a rich tapestry of history and culture.

“Those who find it and are ‘hooked’ by it have ever after something special in common with each other - be they bird watchers, archaeologists, botanists, climbers, divers, lovers of solitude, or lovers of good company.” Sir John Smith, founder Landmark Trust 

 

With limited access to the public, the internet and all but essential vehicles, Lundy offers a peaceful and secluded environment, perfect for those wishing to escape the hustle and bustle of modern life. The lights go out after midnight with only the Tavern maintaining a power supply. The island’s lack of light pollution creates exceptional conditions for star gazing, allowing visitors to enjoy clear views of the night sky.

 

These aspects make Lundy Island a compelling destination for artists looking to find inspiration to create in a breathtaking and tranquil setting. Whether you’re seeking solitude or adventure, it’s an opportunity to disconnect and recharge amidst breathtaking surroundings.

“I never expected to enjoy the remoteness and simplicity of a place quite so much. The quiet and still allows you to connect with your thoughts and the beauty of your surroundings inspires creativity.” Laura Smith. Artist 

Art Retreat Programme FROM £2,200PP (5 nights)
 

May 3-8th 2025 - 5 spots left 

May 10th-15th 2025- 3 spots left 

What will you paint?

 

On this retreat you will be spoiled for choice for inspirational subjects. The rugged island and clear blue seas around it are populated with a host of wildlife from deer, cows, sheep, goats and ponies to endangered bird species such as puffins and Manx shearwater. The sea is also home to a rich array of soft corals, colourful sponges, sea fans, crustaceans and seals that abound the shoreline.

 

During the first class, you will get to explore the versatility of charcoal as I ease you into drawing skills creating a tonal study highland cow, concentrating on creating convincing fur, eyes and expression. For our next piece, we will paint a puffin in flight. During this lesson you will learn how to harness the understated power of desaturated colours, in order to allow the brighter colours of the puffin’s feet and beak to pop. You will learn how to paint convincing feathers and depict the movement of a bird in flight. We will also discuss what makes a good reference photo and the best places to obtain them. On your third piece you will get to explore wet into wet techniques as we paint a seal in the water. This will give you an insight into the key issues of timing and pigment control as we paint convincing waves and reflections. Your final project will be to paint the sweeping waves of the sea, during which you will have the opportunity to practice your edge control and experiment with masking fluid and scratching out. And of course you will have time to explore the island for yourself and make journal notes of the flora and fauna around you.

At this expressive art retreat, you will learn how to:

 

  • Better understand the role of shape and tone in bringing texture to wildlife, whether it be a bird or a mammal

  • Get to grips with timing and pigment control needed to make the most out of watercolour

  • Create any colour of your choice and harness the power of desaturated colours

  • Use warm and cool colours to bring interest and harmony to your artwork 

  • Find a harmony between loose and tighter brush strokes

  • Develop skills in the area of edge control to depict convincing movement whether it be in a puffin’s wings or in the rolling waves

  • Paint from a series of prepared reference photos as well as from images directly from your device

  • Use masking fluid, acrylic ink, gel pens and scratching out techniques to create convincing sea foam and waves

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lundy art retreat itinerary

The proposed itinerary is shown below and all excursions are organised and included. You don’t need any art experience to enjoy this tour.


Please note that the programme maybe subject to change due to the nature of the excursions.

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Day One

In the morning I will meet you at the harbour where we will board the MS Oldenburg. (Time and port to be confirmed by the Landmark Trust in early 2025. It will either be from Bideford or Ilfracombe.)
 

Once we’ve completed the 2 boat trip to Lundy, your suitcases will be taken to Milcombe House, whilst we amble up the cliff path taking in the beauty of this wonderful location. 
 

On arrival you will be shown round the house and given the opportunity to settle into your room. 

From there, we will all meet downstairs for a welcome drink whilst lunch is being prepared by the on-site cook . Over lunch you will have chance to get to know other guests after which we will head out with our cameras for a late afternoon walk up the East side of the island. This will give us the opportunity to observe and photograph some of the island’s land bound inhabitants such as its legendary jumping sheep, beautiful wild ponies and windswept highland cattle. Before heading back to Milcombe house, we will call into the historic Marisco Tavern for a pre dinner drink and an inspiring talk by one of the conservationists working on the island. From there we will head back to the House where a delectable three course meal awaits us, paired with a recommended wine.

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Day three

Your third day unfolds with breakfast, fresh juices and coffee. Whilst some of you may decide to take part in activities in around the shores of Lundy, I will be covering the subject of painting puffins. These are iconic birds when it comes to Lundy’s sea bird population. Their brightly coloured beaks and soulful expression make them an absolute joy to paint.
 

Punctuated by a tasty buffet style lunch you will be able to complete your puffin piece in the afternoon, before heading out to a traditional pub dinner at the most convivial pub, the Marisco Tavern. A gentle walk back to Milcombe House under the canopy of twinkling stars will bring this day to a beautiful close. 

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Day five

Get energised with an (optional) early morning walk along the eastern coastal path to catch the dawn chorus and the sunrise over the crystal clear sea. Head back to Milcombe House to enjoy a  nourishing breakfast, after which we will complete our final day of painting; the subject of which will be seascapes. Using watercolour and masking fluid you will learn how to depict the deep turquoise waters and sweeping waves that roll into shore.

Enjoy traditional “pub grub” for lunch at the Marisco Tavern and return back to the house in the afternoon to complete your painting. Alternatively, take last minute snaps of some of the islands unique flora and fauna or just take time out soaking up the beautiful vista as the birds fly over the cliffs. The last night ends in style with a three course celebratory dinner with wine and our last night together calls for a celebration event at Milcombe House in which everyone will have the chance to share their work, their experiences and their plans for future adventures.

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Day Two

Following a hearty British breakfast, we will begin on a first lesson which deals with the subject of fur, featuring a highland cow as our topic of inspiration. During this class you will learn how to create a beautiful highland cow with just a minimal of charcoal tools. 
 

Punctuated by a deliciously prepared lunch, you will be given the opportunity of continuing to draw with me throughout the afternoon or to further explore the island’s rugged landscape. End this first foray into wildlife art with a relaxed ‘aperitivo’ hour, followed by a  3 course traditional Sunday roast dinner with all the trimmings will top off the perfect day.

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Day four

The myriad of sealife in and around Lundy’s shoreline will inspire Tuesday’s painting class. After a nourishing breakfast, we will dive deep into the study of crustaceans. The colours and textures of crabs and shrimps will give us ample opportunity to explore bright colour ways, wet into wet techniques and exciting techniques with salt and clingfilm to create depth and interest. In the early afternoon, enjoy a light buffet lunch before enjoying free time to either explore the island or paint other sealife inspired by your experience. With seals, corals, fish and jelly fish, you’ll be spoiled for choice! End this beautiful day with a mouth watering three-course dinner cooked by our on-site cook, washed down with a glass of delicious wine.

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Day six

Thursday brings a close to our adventure on this remote British Isle. Following breakfast, bid your goodbyes, exchange any final contact information and make your way to the jetty where the Oldenburg will take you back to the Mainland. 
 

 

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to blend art with the tranquility of nature. 

Reserve your spot today and embark on a transformative journey! 

Accommodation & Prices

stay at milcombe house, overlooking the atlantic ocean

During your time in Lundy, you’ll get to stay in one of its iconic buildings, Milcombe House. Nestled within a cluster of trees and shrubs and overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, this 19th Century villa abounds with historic features.

 

This beautifully restored Georgian mansion offers stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean, with a series of stone steps leading you to the rugged coastline. Built in 1835, the house itself offers no-frills, comfortable accommodation typical of Landmark Trust properties and a cosy atmosphere perfect for relaxation.

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rooms at the house

The house been renovated over the years and has served many purposes, including that of being a residence for the island’s past owner. It still retains much of its historic charm and character and stands as a testament to the island’s past offering guests a unique glimpse into its fascinating history. 

 

From a practical sense, please bear in mind that none of the bedrooms are en-suite due to the age and layout of the house and there is no room service. We’d like you to treat Milcombe House as your home, helping yourself to snacks and refreshments throughout the day. Needless to say that a level of informality, consideration for other guests and good humour is necessary when staying here! 

typical double room, shared bathroom

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typical twin room, shared bathroom 

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social spaces

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milcombe ROOM TYPE & Prices

The room rates are listed as per person. 

Milcombe Room Type and Prices (per person)

Seafront Double room:  £3,100.00 plus £1,400.00 for partner 

Seafront Single room: £2,900.00 

Seafront Twin room to be shared with another guest: £2,500.00 

Non-Seafront Twin room to be shared with another guest: £2,200.00 

 

Note on twin rooms, shared occupancy

If you are booking a twin room, it will be on a shared occupancy basis whereby you can either share with another paying guest of your choice (assuming availability at the time of your booking) or with another guest of the same gender which we will allocate when all of the bookings are in. 

milcombe floorplan

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BOOK A PLACE ON LUNDY ISLAND

Dates

May 3-8th 2025 - 5 spots left

May 10th-15th 2025- 3 spots left 

 

3rd-8th may 2025 (availability)

Seafront Double room: 

£3,100.00 plus £1,400.00 for partner: 1 spot available + partner

Seafront Single rooms: 

£2,900.00: SOLD OUT

Seafront Twin room to be shared with another guest:

£2,500.00: 2 spots available

Non-Seafront Twin room to be shared with another guest:

£2,200.00: 4 spots available

 

10th-15th may 2025 

Seafront Double room: 

£3,100.00 plus £1,400.00 for partner: SOLD OUT

Seafront Single rooms: 

£2,900.00:  SOLD OUT

Seafront Twin room to be shared with another guest:

£2,500.00: 2 spots available

Non-Seafront Twin room to be shared with another guest:

£2,200.00: 4 spots available 

How to Book 

Complete the booking form or please email me at sarah@dy3.co.uk to book your place on this trip and if you have any questions.

A non-refundable deposit of £1,000 secures your place and the balance will be due on the 1st November 2024. I hope to see you there!

What's included: 

  1. Art classes, individual tuition, and demonstrations with me (Sarah Stokes)

  2. Exclusive use of the entire property including all common areas, workshop spaces and gardens

  3. 5 nights of accommodation

  4. Tables, chairs, glass jars

  5. All meals (freshly prepared breakfasts, home cooked dinners & snacks/refreshments throughout the day) including 2 x meals at the Marisco Tavern

  6. Wine during dinner service every day

  7. Complimentary water, coffee, tea

  8. Snorkel safari, guided walks and rock pool ramble dependent on Lundy staff availability

  9. Return trip to Lundy from a port to be advised via the MS Oldenburg or other means of travel. Luggage not to exceed 20kgs

  10. All tourist taxes and fees

  11. Access to a private WhatsApp group with me and the other retreat participants four months before the retreat

  12.  Luggage transfer to Milcombe House

Not included: 

  1. Airfare

  2. Travel insurance (this is obligatory- please make sure you have taken out appropriate insurance and we will request evidence of this prior to travel)

  3. Art materials — you will receive a detailed list of art materials recommended by artist Sarah Stokes two months before the retreat. Tables, chairs, glass jars and paper towels are included.

  4. Tips — tipping isn't the norm but it's appreciated by the local service providers

  5. Other expenses guests might incur on their own such as souvenirs or beverages outside of Milcombe House or set meal times at the Marisco Tavern. Guests will be able to set up a tab with The Landmark Trust at reception which will need to be settled on the morning of departure.

  6. Car parking expenses on the mainland

  7. Diving and boat trips

  8. Hairdryers and toiletries

  9. Room service or servicing

  10. Travel costs from one UK port to the other.

  11. Transport of guests to and from Milcombe House from the jetty at Lundy by landrover without prior arrangement

Additional Notes: 

 

Whilst there is a teaching schedule, guests are welcome to pick and chose the classes that they wish to attend to allow themselves time to explore the island or join one of the several guided tours that take place each week

We do not organise diving or boat trips and we do not recommend specific suppliers. 

Always walk as a pair when walking on the island 

Stay away from cliff edges as it can get windy

Please bring suitable walking boots and wet weather gear as conditions can be changeable 

If you are dropped off to a different port to the one that you departed from, Landmark Trust will provide transport at a nominal cost of around £11.00 (figures accurate as of 2024)

This itinerary is subject to change according to weather, staffing and conditions beyond our control. 

When travelling out to Lundy

Please bear in mind that the Oldenburg may not be able to sail on  Saturday 3rd and 10th May 2025. If this is the case then emergency accommodation and food will be available on the Saturday night. Please bear in mind that you maybe sharing a room with a fellow guest of the same gender if this is the case, even if you have booked a single occupancy room on the island. Guests will be taken to Lundy by the next available crossing via The Oldenburg or on rare occasions via helicopter at an additional cost. Because we are providing emergency accommodation in the case of a cancelled sailing, no refunds or compensation, partial or otherwise will be provided in the event of delayed arrival to the island. Please ensure that your travel insurance covers any such eventualities.
 

Please contact the Landmark Trust  https://www.landmarktrust.org.uk/lundyisland/discovering-lundy/activities/diving/getting-to-lundy/ms-oldenburg/ for full terms and conditions. 

All sailings will be subject to weather conditions. In the case that you can’t sail back to the mainland on Thursday 8th or the 15th May 2025, then you will be able to sleep overnight at Milcombe house.

 

Please ensure that you have downloaded a parking app for any cars left on the mainland so you can extend your parking time. Also ensure that you have allowed for possible delays with any onward travel plans. If you sail into a port other than the one that you departed from then a transfer coach will be arranged by Landmark Trust who will charge you a nominal fee of around £11.00 per passenger. 

 

The nearest international airports to Ilfracombe are Cardiff or Exeter Airports, depending upon where you are travelling. Barnstable Train station is the nearest largest train station to Ilfracombe or Bideford. Please allow for a 30 minute car journey from Barnstable to Ilfracombe or Bideford. 

 

No refunds or compensation, partial or otherwise will be provided in the event of delayed arrival to the mainland. Please ensure that your travel insurance covers any such eventualities.

 

Please contact the Landmark Trust https://www.landmarktrust.org.uk/lundyisland/discovering-lundy/activities/diving/getting-to-lundy/ms-oldenburg/ for full terms and conditions on ailing via the Oldenburg

 

Related links:

 

Please make sure you familiarise yourself with the island and the Oldenburg here: 

https://www.landmarktrust.org.uk/lundyisland/

For more information about Lundy’s bird life, please visit: 

https://lundybirdobs.org.uk/

 

To get a taste of Lundy, read this beautifully written blog

https://walkingaway.uk/2023/03/24/lundy-island/comment-page-1

 

BBC information about Lundy

https://www.bbc.com/travel/article/20210523-lundy-the-tiny-isle-with-a-wild-lawless-past

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