Royal Navy helps 74-year-old adventurer visit every UK island

John Chatterton landing on Soay from Isle of Skye John Chatterton landing on Soay from Isle of Skye

A 74-year man from Birmingham has finally achieved his dream of visiting every inhabited UK island.

Climate change consultant John Chatterton has travelled mainly by rowing boat and ferry during his five-year mission, with the odd plane and even a cable car.

The journey has led him to step foot on 220 islands across the length and breadth of the UK, including those that are privately owned.

Last month, Chatterton gained permission from the Royal Navy to enter 84-acre Whale Island — a semi-man-made island that is home to a restricted naval base near Portsmouth Harbour. It was the last remaining location on his UK list.

John Chatterton heading from Herm to Jethou, Channel Islands. Image courtesy of John Chatterton

The Navy said it was “delighted to help John complete a wonderful adventure”.

Chatterton says one of the most unusual experiences he had during his adventure was during a trip to Dry Island in Loch Gairloch, Scotland, where he was “welcomed by the owner who offered to stamp our passports as he’s proclaimed his own country, Islonia.”

“There are some wonderful, beautiful islands around the UK, each one has a story to tell, and there are some wonderful, quirky characters,” Chatterton told the Mirror.

“I’ve been welcomed by billionaires and Bear Grylls, experienced some fascinating local customs and learned how people live on the fringes of our islands.”

John Chatterton
The 74-year-old used pontoons, causeways, ferries, rowing boats and even a cable car during his journey. Image courtesy of John Chatterton

It’s not the first epic adventure that Chatterton, from Moseley, has undertaken. He is also one of the first people to walk around the British coastline in just 328 days, a journey he conducted in a six-year period a decade ago.

He says: “On the first 5,000-mile walk, when I was reasonably fit, my first big mantra was ‘I won’t take any ferries’.

“My next idea was the opposite: ‘Why don’t I go to every inhabited island in the British Isles and only take ferries.'”

Chatterton says another memorable visit was to Piel Island, just off Barrow-in-Furness, which is home to the ‘King of Piel’ — who’s actually the local publican.

He adds: “Bear Grylls, who has an island off the coast of North Wales, was extremely welcoming when I went there.

“It’s just an old hump of rock with a lighthouse on, and he’s converted the lighthouse. It’s called St. Tudwal’s West. He has this rib boat he uses to get onto the island.”

John Chatterton
John Chatterton stepped foot on Whale Island last month. Image courtesy of the Royal Navy

During Chatterton’s stay on Whale Island, Lieutenant Commander Ian Pratt, the island’s executive officer, said he was “delighted to help John complete a wonderful adventure”.

Chatterton adds: “Whale Island has been a superb end to a lovely project, and the Navy’s hospitality has been fantastic.”

Chatterton now plans to write a book about his experiences.

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This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.

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