Piel Island

The Ship Inn, Piel Island, Barrow-In-Furness, LA13 0QN
Piel Island

Piel Island

A magical island steeped in history and legend awaits you south of the Furness Peninsula. Piel Island, whilst small at just 50-acres, is brimming with history and even has its own King, the landlord of The Ship Inn, who is one of just a handful of occupants.

During your time here you can stroll through the ruins of an ancient castle, soak in the sea air, or become a Knight of Piel by buying everyone in the pub a round of drinks.

Planning Your Visit

Contact Details:
07516 453 784 / Website
Free (+ Cost of Ferry)
Seasonal Opening:
All Year (Ferrys run regularly April - Sept)


King Stephen first granted the island to monks to build an Abbey on in 1127, and it would later come under the authority of Furness Abbey. In the early 14th century the castle was built in order to protect the inhabitants from Scottish raiders and to manage the ship trading routes between Ireland and Cumbria.

Following Henry VIII’s campaign to dissolve the monasteries, the island became crown property and the castle fell into ruin, battered by sea erosion. The island was used as a stop off point for trading boats and the Ship Inn, the island’s pub, was built sometime in the 18th century. In the early twentieth century the island was gifted to the local authority and now is under the care of English Heritage.

The tradition of the pub landlord being crowned as "King of Piel" dates back to the 18th century and the coronation involves having a bucket of alcohol poured over the king’s head. It’s thought that the notion of the "King of Piel" was originally intended as a mockery of Lambert Simnel, a pretender to the throne during the reign of Henry VII who landed on the island from Dublin with 2000 mercenaries on their way to battle with the king’s forces. Simnel was later defeated.

Things To See

The castle is an impressive example of a 14th century fort with a keep, baileys, and many walls still standing. You can roam around the castle and the island freely and on a really clear day you may be able to see the coast of Ireland across the sea.

There is also a wildfowl reserve on the site with a plethora of birds making the island their home, including Lapwings and Cormorants. At The Ship Inn, you can enjoy a selection of ales and locally sourced produce each day. You can also stay overnight in one of the Inn’s rooms or camp on the island.

Getting There

Piel Island is accessible by ferry from Roa Island. Use the postcode LA13 0QN on your satnav to get to the jetty at Roa Island.

Services run regularly during the day between 11am and 5pm in the months April – November. There is no entrance fee to the island but there is a charge for the ferry service.


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