Tidal Tales: Life on the tiny North West island steeped in history

Video report by Sarah Rogers as part of the 'Tidal Tales' series on Granada Reports.

Just half a mile from the Barrow peninsula lies the tiny island of Piel that many people still don't know exists.

On the 50 acre site stands a castle built in the middle ages and 300 year old pub. There's a seal colony on the sands nearby, and their population outnumbers locals by around 80 to 1.

There is no mains gas or electricity and only a handful of people live there, but the island is steeped in history with an abundance of wildlife.

Piel Island

But, the future of the island had been in doubt until recently, the Ship Inn has been closed since 2019 when it's owners retired. There were fears it may never open again, but in July it threw open it's doors after a renovation by Lakeland Inns who stepped in until suitable owners can be found.

Life can be tough on the island especially when the weather is bad. Access is via a tractor at low tide or a small ferry, so getting things to and from the island can be tricky.

In a tradition dating back to the 15th century the island traditionally has a King or Queen, most recently the fell to the landlord so the search is now on for the the next royal family.

Just off the island is a nature reserve boasting some 800 seals, feasting on sea bass, it's thought the isolation of the area makes it perfect for wildlife.

Seals off the coast of Piel Island

Coming back from the brink, the island is now busier than ever, says Mark Wilcock who runs the 12 seater ferry that goes to and from the island. Bad weather means they can't run but he says the summer has been kind so far.

And for holiday makers looking for something a bit different you can camp for the price of a pint or stay in the hotel - although the local bartender reckons it's haunted by a small dog!