Life on the ‘unique’ island of Yorkshire, so remote it takes 22km return for a pint of milk


The small island of Yorkshire with a population of 228 has been called a “quiet” paradise by locals.

Sunk Island in East Yorkshire is a surreal place with an odd name – a handful of trees dot the landscape, but other than that it’s just huge open skies and flat land.

The island did not exist 500 years ago as it was part of the bed of the Humber River, but the land has now been reclaimed and is sparsely populated with farms and homes, making it a unique place to live.

Read more: We went to the ‘hidden gem’ of Yorkshire waterfall which is so peaceful it’s a shame to tell you about it

Driving up to Sunk Island, which is oddly “owned by the Queen”, is almost eerie – like one of those Netflix documentaries where you could disappear off the face of the earth and no one would notice. But once you talk to the people who live there, you realize how humble and communal the island is and see it for its unique beauty.

Gillian has lived on Sunk Island for 15 years with her husband. She said: “My husband’s family has lived here for about 35 years. We love living here.



Sunk Island has huge open skies and miles of flat landscapes

“My husband is a farmer, so we are very connected to the land because he cultivates the fields all around, so for me, we have a personal connection with it.

“I have two young boys aged 8 and 10 and for them the space, peace and freedom to run around is great. We have this incredible closeness to nature that you won’t find anywhere else.

“We do a 14 mile round trip for a pint of milk, but with that comes peace, especially on days like this when it’s so nice and sunny.

“The lockdown didn’t affect us as much as families in the city struggled with it because we had the freedom to go out into the fields.

Could you live on Sunk Island? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

“But you’re also very in touch with the seasons, I love that in the winter there can be absolutely high winds, seeing those huge skies and the weather fronts coming in.

“I also like the connection with the Humber because we can see the ferries sailing from the garden, so you are connected to people going on holiday to Holland. I just think it’s a unique place. nowhere like it in the world.

“There are a lot of farming families living here, but there are also other people retiring here, especially a lot of people from West Yorkshire. There is a retirement community but also people who live a quality life in the countryside, but more affordable prices on the other side of Hull where it is much more expensive.



Sunk Island began life as a sandbar nearly 500 years ago

“I think we have the best of both worlds here, it’s not for everyone, I think it’s one of those places where not everyone would want to live because it’s isolated and close to nature; but for me personally, I like the fact that we have close neighbors but we don’t have immediate neighbors.

“Everyone knows each other, all the neighbors help each other if something happens, everyone pulls together and helps each other. So we were close but at the same time you have your personal space.”

Sunk Island is one of a kind, it doesn’t look quite real, it’s also unique to any other place in Yorkshire – you can see why residents love living here and why it wouldn’t for the others.

Another resident, John, said: “I moved here 35 years ago and have never looked back since. It’s awesome.

“It’s a bit dark in winter, but we hunker down and when it’s a day like today, it’s so calm and peaceful.

“My wife and I are both into birds and wildlife and we see a pretty good selection here so it’s perfect for us. They’re just setting up a large natural wetland, there’s always been a small one but they’re now building a pretty big one.



John and his wife have lived on Sunk Island for 35 years
John and his wife have lived on Sunk Island for 35 years

The island almost looks like another country, more like the countryside of the lower regions of Belgium or the Netherlands. John added: “The main road with all the Populus trees has a bit but of a reminiscence to France I think.

“You can see a long way with the reclaimed land, each of these roads was originally a river bank – on the other side is Newlands and we call it that because it was the last piece of land to be recovered.”

Another resident, who did not want to be named, said Sunk Island is a “fantastic” place to live because “there is no one there”.

Although not a hugely popular tourist spot, Sunk Island is still worth a visit, if only to take in its beautiful open skies and miles of scenery. You can even get an Airbnb to stay overnight.



Megan Banner visited Yorkshire's 'hidden gem' waterfall near Settle

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You can also email megan.banner@reachplc.com.

You can read more of his stories here.

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