Steep Holm, a small island in the Bristol Channel, is owned and managed by the Kenneth Allsop Memorial trust. It lies nearly six miles offshore from the seaside resort of Weston-super-Mare in Somerset. Although relatively close to areas of high population and the busy shipping channel, Steep Holm is isolated by brisk tidal currents and is a difficult landing place. Despite and indeed because of its isolation, Steep Holm is a rewarding place to visit, with visitors welcome on scheduled trips.
The occupation of Steep Holm stretches back into antiquity, probably as far back as the Stone Age, before rising sea levels isolated it from the mainland and turned it into an island. The Vikings used it as a secure base from which to raid the mainland. In 1150 the Augustinian Priory of St. Michael was established there. Warreners bred rabbits for meat, and fur to trim the robes of noblemen. In the 1700s its fisheries landed half a ton of fish a day – the main supplier to Bristol Fish Market. A hotel and inn built in the 1800s provided illicit liquor for thirsty sailors. There were smugglers, and probably pirates too. The Victorians fortified the island – their six gun emplacements, complete with cannons remain largely intact. Massive gun batteries were built in WWII, together with searchlight posts, and rocket launcher sites.
Purchased in 1976 as a living memorial to Kenneth Allsop, a broadcaster, author, and passionate campaigner for conservation causes, who died in 1973, Steep Holm is a nature reserve, bird sanctuary, and Site of Special Scientific Interest due to its rare plants, including the May flowering wild Mediterranean Peony. Here you can find peace and quiet (when the gulls have finished rearing their young) with fantastic 360 degree views of the Bristol Channel and the Somerset and Welsh coastlines. Walk the cliff tops, ramble around the military buildings, explore the underground ammunition stores, get involved with an archaeological dig, or simply while away the day on a rugged and beautiful island.
The aims of the Trust are to protect, preserve and enhance for the benefit of the public the landscape, antiquities, flora, fauna, natural beauty, and scientific interest of the island of Steep Holm in North Somerset, and to advance the education of the public in the natural sciences.
Registered Charity No. 270059