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The Independent Travel
UK departures

Trains, boats and planes: more travel-inspired openings in London next weekend as part of Open House '95, when buildings across Europe throw open their doors to the public for free. The newly listed Holloway Road underground station has tours every hour on the hour. Boats may be sighted from the offices of Sir Norman Foster, whose architectural practice is based in Battersea. Prior to take-off, the new Nicholas Grimshaw-designed Compass Centre at Heathrow airport is allowing small parties to go airside into the restricted zone and listen in on crew briefings.

If you want to size up somewhere to stay, then Rotherhithe youth hostel is throwing open its doors. For places with a flimsy geographical connection, try Lincoln's Inn, the heart of the legal profession in Holborn; Somerset House, an 18th-century grand projet; Lancaster House, an extravagant private palace where the agreement to create Zimbabwe was signed. For those yearning for echoes of power, the Hackney Empire and the Kilburn State are giving backstage tours.

Call 0891 600080 for further details.

True or false? 'No man is an island' - John Donne (1571-1631)

False! There's the Isle of Man for a start. Around the coast of Britain alone there are many other islands-which-are-men. Here are a few well worth visiting:

Barry Island

This was an island before the narrow channel that separated it at high tide from the mainland was excavated into docks for coal export, and spanned by a causeway. Now it's famous for the Pleasure Park, and its three beaches: Jackson's Bay, Whitmore Bay and the Knap, as well as parks, gardens and the old Harbour.

Papa Stour

This Shetland isle enjoys the Gulf Stream, up to 19 hours of sunlight in June, and the spectacular Aurora Borealis in September and October. Its name means "big island of the priests" and the scent of its flowers is said to have been powerful enough to guide deep-sea fisherman home.

Papa Westray

If you like island-hopping, but get bored easily, the two-minute fight from Westray to Papa Westray (70 seconds in good weather) is the world's shortest scheduled flight. The Orkney islands are nearer the Scottish mainland than Shetland, but Westray is on the same latitude as Juneau, state capital of Alaska.

Samson

This is the largest of the Isles of Scilly to be uninhabited. Its twin hills give it the appearance of an hour-glass lying half submerged. A few inhabitants scraped a living here until the 1850s; now the only visitors are boat day-trippers or those who have walked across from Bryher at low tide.

Martin Scudamore

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