Report - - Drakes Island, Plymouth, Devon | Military Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Drakes Island, Plymouth, Devon

Simon Pykett

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Early this morning, a friend and I decided to load the two man kayak into the camper van and go paddling into Plymouth Sound, without any real idea of where we would end up. After pottering around the Barbican for a few moments, we turned against the tide and headed out for Drakes Island.

I've always longed to go to Drakes but have never really had the time, due to having a very young family and having the responsibility of a very demanding teaching role. However, as the summer holidays have descended upon us, it was time. And that time was now!

High tide today was at 2pm (give or take) so we decided that the best place to launch from would be Mountbatten as it has relatively cheap parking, and a slipway that we could launch from with ease. It was easy going and the Sound was not particularly busy. The water was calm and the currents were very easy going and with big strong arms, off we went!

A very brief history of Drakes Island;

It has been a military-based island for several hundred years, and contains many derelict casemates, several 12-inch muzzle loading guns and open emplacements, now sadly empty. The Royal Commission on the Defence of the United Kingdom built fortifications on the island in the mid 1800's with a new battery that was built on the southwestern end of the island along with vast iron shields. This work was completed in the latter part of the 1800's. Six 12-pounder quick firing guns were added in 1897 and three 6-inch guns became the main armament in 1901.

The whole site is now completely derelict and heavily overgrown. Many people have obviously visited the island, with many leaving their own mark in one way or another. The images here are shots that I took on my phone (I'm no David Bailey) and did not spend much more than two hours there. We would have spent longer, however we became a little worried that we might be caught (it is private property) and neither of us particularly wanted the hassle of being caught, as innocuous as our visit was, it was purely a matter of idle curiosity.

We initially aimed for the north-side of the island where there is a jetty, large semi-derelict boat house and a small beach. It was presumed that we could get onto the island from this point but we were wrong. We took some photos and got back into the kayak. We paddled around to north-west where there is another very small beach covered with soft yellow sand. However, this was not an appropriate point to enter, without some serious and highly dangerous climbing. Just no. So we got back into the kayak for a third go. We paddled around to the south-east corner, where we pulled the kayak high up onto the rocks to avoid the incoming high tide. We then walked up towards the outside of the casemates and easily climbed through one of the many holes, straight into the very dark tunnels. We had to climb again up a very steep slope that was lined with very rusted slopes - we guessed that this was a loading area for the ammunition or shells that were stored deep under ground. After a few moments of climbing, we found ourselves by the casemates that were heavily overgrown - this is where the photos start.

You're only allowed a maximum of thirty photos here, which is a shame (however, understandable) as I took close to 100. I've published all of them in this Google Drive folder (but I understand if Mods do not allow this).

ABOVE - this innocuous little stairway leads down to the beach and is the back of the large red door that fronts onto the beach that contains signs saying 'warning' and 'private property'.


Enjoy :)

Jack Wilkinson1

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Nice to see an up to date report. Some great pictures there too mate. Drakes has been on my list for some time now, looks like I’ll get chance to go in the next few weeks though so thanks for additional info :D

Simon Pykett

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Nice to see an up to date report. Some great pictures there too mate. Drakes has been on my list for some time now, looks like I’ll get chance to go in the next few weeks though so thanks for additional info :D
Thanks man, if you want to get on there, I would do sooner rather than later - rumour has it that permission has been granted for the development of the site. When that starts, it will be totally off limits.

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