No Man is an Island

Josh Dennis recounts his time spent at the beautifully-desolate Burgh Island, telling his story through a combination of prose and photography.

They say, ‘no man is an island’. Burgh Island proves this meaningful, albeit clichéd, phrase.

During high tide, the island is completely cut-off from the mainland, appearing to be a battered refuge from the English Channel. Yet, when the tide starts to retreat, a slither of sand leading to the mainland is revealed. The journey – previously only doable in the sea tractor – is now a simple, ten-minute walk along a welcoming beach.

The place is virtually uninhabited, with the exception of a solitary pub dating back to 1336 and the Art Deco-style, Burgh Island Hotel. What used to be one of the most popular hotels of its time is now a weathered antique, acting as a centrepiece for the barren landscape.

There’s something humbling about the sea. I could sit for hours watching the waves tumble into the withered rocks, one after another. Relentless repetition.

Burgh Island provides deliverance from everyday life and, despite the close proximity of the mainland, it feels like a retreat, a chance to be at one with nature and the sea.

It’s only when you admire Burgh Island from a distance, at nearby Bantham beach that you realise its insignificance compared to the surrounding body of water.

What first looked like a towering mass standing in the middle of the sea now appears to be just another spec of rock – a fragment broken off during the formation of the south Devon coastline.