hidden europe 63

Tidal islands

by hidden europe

Picture above: St Michael’s Mount on the Cornish coast is linked by a tidal causeway to the mainland (photo © Bonandbon DW / dreamstime.com).


There are islands which never lose their island status. And then there are islands which come and go with every tide. Such fragments of land, which are only proper islands at low tide, are called drying islands or tidal islands. We look at some European examples.

None of the ‘islands’ mentioned in the preceding article can really qualify as proper islands nowadays. But when does an island stop being an island? The Scottish island of Skye (in the Inner Hebrides) still has something of the feel of an island, even though it has since 1995 been linked by a bridge to the mainland.

Across Europe there are dozens of islands, many of them inhabited, which are ephemerally separated from the mainland. At high tide they are islands, but they lose that status at low tide. These part-time islands are known as ‘tidal islands’ or ‘drying islands’. These are a very special kind of island, partly insular but enjoying intermittent connectivity to the mainland.

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