MS Oldenburg: The Graceful Ferry Serving the Island of Lundy

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MS Oldenburg is a British passenger ferry serving the beautiful island of Lundy in the Bristol Channel.

It is an iconic vessel that has been an essential part of the island’s history for over 60 years.

Together in this article, we take a closer look at the ship, its history, and the exciting experiences it offers to visitors from Bideford and beyond.

Key Takeaways
MS Oldenburg is a British passenger ferry serving the island of Lundy in the Bristol Channel.
The ship was launched on the 29th March 1958 in Bremen, Germany and named after the former grand duchy of Oldenburg.
After a refurbishment at Appledore Shipyard and receiving new engines in 1986, MS Oldenburg began her journeys for passengers and supplies to the island of Lundy.
The ship is fast, comfortable and built on traditional lines, retaining her original panelling and brass fittings.
The ship is also available for charters such as business meetings, private parties, fundraisers and wedding receptions.

The History of MS Oldenburg

MS Oldenburg was launched on the 29th of March 1958 in Bremen, Germany.

The ship was named after the former grand duchy of Oldenburg, Germany. Initially, it was used as a ferry service between the mainland and the Frisian island of Wangerooge. In 1975, it was chartered by Reederei Warrings and then sold to them for duty-free shopping cruises around East Frisia.

MS Oldenburg was sold to Harle-Reederei Warrings in Carolinensiel, Lower Saxony, Germany, in 1982. In November 1985, it was then sold to the Lundy Co. Ltd. to replace Lundy’s transport boat, the Polar Bear.

After undergoing significant refurbishment at Appledore Shipyard and receiving new engines in 1986, it began its journeys for passengers and supplies to the island of Lundy.

Features of MS Oldenburg

MS Oldenburg is a graceful motor vessel, fast, comfortable, and built on traditional lines.

One of the most striking features of MS Oldenburg is its classic design, which gives it a graceful appearance and a nostalgic charm that is hard to find in today’s modern vessels.

Below decks, it retains its original panelling and brass fittings but has been modernised to provide heated saloons, a bar, a buffet, a shop and an information centre.

On fine days, there is plenty of space on deck, and you may even be lucky enough to catch sight of playful dolphins following the ship.

The vessel can carry 267 passengers, and its bar offers a wide range of drinks and a relaxing atmosphere, while hot and cold food is provided at the buffet. Visitors can also while away the time in the well-stocked shop or find out more about the island at the information centre.

Visiting Lundy Island

MS Oldenburg is an excellent way to visit Lundy Island. Between March and October, the ship sails from Bideford and Ilfracombe, weather permitting. From November to March, a helicopter service is operated between Hartland Point and Lundy, for winter breaks only.

Family tickets for two adults and two children are available for £115 (2023). Concessions are also available for senior citizens, students, National Trust members, and NHS workers.

In addition to ferrying passengers to and from Lundy, MS Oldenburg is available for private charter. The vessel can be chartered as a venue to hold private functions or conferences. It can also be chartered for an evening river cruise from Bideford or a coastal cruise from Ilfracombe.

Featured Places to Stay Near Bideford

Visting Lundy on the MS Oldenburg Video

In the video below, follow the creator on their journey to Lundy Island.

A summary of the visit to Lundy Island is below:

  • Lundy Island is a little-known treasure off the coast of southern England, with a rich history and semi-wild terrain.
  • The MS Oldenburg ferry and helicopter are the main ways to access Lundy Island, with the ferry offering limited seating and a few facilities.
  • Advance booking is necessary for both transportation and accommodation, as demand often exceeds supply.
  • Cell phone coverage and internet connectivity are limited on the island, so offline maps or paper maps are recommended.
  • Weather conditions can be unpredictable, requiring a sense of adventure from visitors.
  • Lundy Island is home to a small village with accommodations, a pub, a general store, and a museum.
  • Notable landmarks include the South Light and North Light lighthouses, Marisco Castle, Millcombe House, and St. Helen’s Church.
  • The island is a working sheep farm, managed by The Lundy Company, and has around 20 permanent residents.
  • Marisco Castle: Originally constructed in 1243 by King Henry III, now a scheduled ancient monument and holiday home.
  • HMS Montagu: Dreadnought-class battleship that ran aground on Shutter Rocks in 1906, now a dive site.
  • The Old Light: Lighthouse built in 1819, replaced in 1897 due to fog issues, now a holiday let and open for climbing.
  • Fog Battery Complex: Built in 1863 to warn ships during foggy conditions, abandoned in 1897.
  • WWII German Bombers: Two Heinkel bombers crashed on Lundy during the war.
  • Tibbetts: Former admiralty lookout and signalling station, now a popular holiday cottage with amazing views and stargazing opportunities.
  • North and South Lighthouses: Twin lighthouses built in 1897, both solar-powered and remotely monitored.

Exploring the MS Oldenburg Experience

Embarking on a journey aboard MS Oldenburg, a Bristol Channel ferry, is an unforgettable experience that combines breathtaking scenery with the charm of a classic vessel.

As the primary Lundy Island ferry, MS Oldenburg offers a comfortable and enjoyable voyage, giving passengers the opportunity to explore the stunning island of Lundy while appreciating the ship’s traditional character.

To help you plan your trip, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the MS Oldenburg schedule, which runs between March and October, weather permitting.

During these months, the ferry sails from Bideford and Ilfracombe, providing a reliable and picturesque mode of transport to the island. Between November and March, a helicopter service is operated for winter breaks only. By checking the schedule, you can ensure that your visit aligns with the ferry’s operating dates and times.

Purchasing MS Oldenburg tickets is a breeze, with various options available to suit different travel needs. Family tickets for two adults and two children are available for £115 (2023), while concessions are also offered for senior citizens, students, National Trust members, and NHS workers.

By securing your tickets in advance, you can look forward to experiencing the enchanting island of Lundy and MS Oldenburg with ease.

Lundy Island’s Rich History and Scenic Beauty

Nestled in the Bristol Channel, Lundy Island boasts a rich history and stunning scenic beauty that captivates visitors from all over the world.

As you sail from Bideford or Ilfracombe to Lundy Island, prepare to be enthralled by the island’s fascinating past and its breathtaking position along the North Devon coast.

The Lundy Island history dates back thousands of years, with evidence of human habitation dating as far back as the Bronze Age. Over the centuries, the island has been a haven for pirates, a base for privateers, and a strategic military location.

Seal in the Sea

Today, Lundy Island is a protected marine reserve and a Site of Special Scientific Interest, drawing visitors eager to explore its unique flora, fauna, and historical landmarks, such as the Marisco Castle and the Old Lighthouse.

Embarking on the journey from Bideford to Lundy Island, you’ll enjoy a scenic cruise across the Bristol Channel, taking in the rugged beauty of the North Devon coast.

The MS Oldenburg provides a comfortable and enjoyable means of transportation, ensuring that your trip to Lundy Island is both memorable and relaxing.

Alternatively, if you’re setting sail from Ilfracombe to Lundy Island, you’ll be equally enchanted by the picturesque coastal landscapes and the charming fishing village of Ilfracombe.

As you approach the island, keep an eye out for the diverse marine life that inhabits the waters around Lundy, such as seals, dolphins, and numerous seabird species.

Bideford and Its Maritime Heritage

Bideford, nestled along the banks of the River Torridge, is steeped in maritime history and brimming with exciting attractions that appeal to visitors of all ages.

Bideford’s maritime history is an integral part of its identity, with a long tradition of shipbuilding, trading, and seafaring.

Bideford Quay

The town’s historic port has seen countless vessels come and go, from trading ships that once connected Bideford with the New World to the famous MS Oldenburg, which continues to provide a vital link to the enchanting Lundy Island.

As you delve into Bideford’s history, you’ll discover fascinating stories of pirates, privateers, and daring sea voyages that have shaped the town’s character.

Exploring Bideford attractions, you’ll find an array of captivating sites that showcase the town’s unique heritage. The Bideford Railway Heritage Centre offers a glimpse into the town’s transport history, while the Burton Art Gallery and Museum host a diverse collection of art, providing insight into Bideford’s cultural past.

For those interested in the town’s seafaring roots, a visit to the historic Bideford Quay is a must, where you can enjoy stunning views of the River Torridge and the iconic Bideford Long Bridge.

Final Thoughts

MS Oldenburg has been serving Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel for over 35 years, providing a reliable and enjoyable mode of transport for visitors and residents alike.

Whether you’re visiting Lundy Island for the first time or you’re a seasoned veteran, the ship provides a comfortable and enjoyable mode of transport that’s sure to enhance your experience. From its classic design to its modern amenities and reliable service, MS Oldenburg is truly one of a kind.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are the top questions, answered about MS Oldenburg.

Q: How old is MS Oldenburg?
A: MS Oldenburg, a British passenger ferry serving the island of Lundy in the Bristol Channel, was launched on March 29th, 1958, and acquired on August 6th, 1958, making it over 60 years old.

Q: How long is the Lundy Island ferry ride?
A: The journey to or from Lundy Island on the MS Oldenburg usually takes less than two hours. The ship’s departure time from Lundy will be posted on The Marisco Tavern notice-board at least 24 hours before the sailing. Some sailings return you to a different port from that which you departed.

Q: What is Lundy Island famous for?
A: Lundy Island is famous for its seabirds, including the Puffins, which gave the island its name (from the Norse for Puffin Island), but there is also a wealth of other animals and plants on the island and in the waters around it.

Q: Who owns Lundy?
A: Lundy Island is currently owned by the National Trust, which bought the island in 1969. However, in the early 20th century, a businessman called Martin Coles Harman bought the island and declared himself king of Lundy.

Q: Where is MS Oldenburg?
A: MS Oldenburg is a British passenger ferry serving the island of Lundy in the Bristol Channel. Its home port is in Bideford, a historic port town in North Devon, England.

Q: How old is the Oldenburg boat?
A: MS Oldenburg, also known as the Oldenburg boat, was built in 1958, making it over 60 years old. It is a Passenger/Cargo Ship that is registered in the United Kingdom and is still actively used to ferry passengers to and from Lundy Island.

Author Matt Ogborne
Matt Ogborne
About the Author

Welcome to! I’m Matt, a seasoned explorer and avid fan of Bideford and the broader North Devon area. With over a decade of consistent family visits, virtually every weekend, I’ve immersed myself in the rich history and vibrant culture Bideford & North Devon.

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