Walking Tour

Burgh Island is the beautiful setting for two of Agatha Christie’s greatest masterpieces, And Then There Were None and Evil Under the Sun. To fully appreciate the atmosphere that was so alluring to the characters in the novels, one must visit the Burgh Island Hotel. The hotel is very private and extremely pricy (£285-500 a night). But if one wants to see the height of ostentation, a beautiful lunch can be arranged, for only patrons are allowed on the grounds (Reception: 01548 810 514).Seatracktor

To begin the tour, arrive early in the morning at the Burgh Island parking lot across the way. The two closest large towns with sufficient public transportation are Plymouth and Kingsbridge. When you arrive take the Sea Tractor (pictured right) across the beach at 1.5 pounds person. It is impossible to avoid the water in the morning, and the island is only accessible on foot for a few hours at low tide, which is in the late morning and early afternoon.

CliffsWhen you arrive on the island, make straight for the public footpath. Ignore the Pilchard Inn and the Hotel for the time being. Follow the trail to the top of the hill, taking note of the spectacular view whichever way you look. At the top of the hill you will find an old ruin. Contrary to popular belief, it is not part of the original monastery built on the Island in the 14th century. The monastery was demolished to make way for the hotel in the late 19th century. This ruin is an old house that dates back less than two hundred years. At the top of the hill, follow the trail down the hill, but away from the Pilchard Inn and Hotel. If you have the proper shoes, which might conflict with the dress code required for lunch, take the narrow path to the furthermost section of the island. There you can look back at two of the five coves on the island. Either of these two coves could have been the spot that inspired Agatha Christie to have had her character Arlena Stuart, from Evil Under the Sun, murdered, for she was found dead on the part of the island opposite the hotel. You can also see the cliffs (right) that Dr. Armstrong was pushed off of in And Then There Were None.

When you finish with this section of the island, make your way back to the main trail and proceed to the Hotel. Lunch takes two hours and is served in two different rooms. In the parlor you can enjoy a variety of cocktails and horsd'oeuvre. Make sure you take notice of the original glass sunroof.

A tuxedoed waiter will then escort you to the dining room for a set three-course meal (35 pounds a head). Glass Ceiling

RocksAfter enjoying the 1920’s art deco dining room accompanied by retro music, a beautiful mural, and friendly waiters, wander outside. Lounge about in one of the beautiful chairs or lie on the beach down below. If you are there on the right day you might even get a chance to hear some jazz. Interestingly the jazz band sets up on the platform floating in the middle of the pool! As you lounge about this paradise it immediately becomes clear why so many celebrities, and the characters from Christie’s novels, will so quickly accept an invitation to this retreat. Agatha Christie herself has a room named after her because she frequented the place so often.

After you have spent the day lounging about the Hotel, make your way to the Pilchard Inn. This quaint pub, which was originally a house for the monks building the abbey, dates back to the 13th century. Pull the string on the historic double door (towards the East of the Pub), but not too hard-- it’s fragile--or knock on the other door (towards the West) and the innkeeper will greet you. The pub is split in half by the bar, with the Eastern section being of the original structure and the Western section being built at the same time as the hotel. Try one of the several local beers to cool off from the sun. Then with the tide still low, assuming you did not fall asleep by the water, walk back to the parking lot across the beach and make your way home.

[View Map of Burgh Island]

© Copyright Christopher Chanock 2007

 

Kegs

 

Pilchard Inn

If this had been an old house, with creaking wood, and dark shadows, and heavily paneled walls, here might have been an eerie feeling. But this house was the essence of modernity. There were no dark corners- no possible sliding panels – it was flooded with electric light – everything was new and bright and shining. There was nothing hidden in this house, nothing concealed. It had no atmosphere about it. Somehow, that was the most frightening thing of all…
 –And Then There Were None