EXPLORE THE ISLANDS
If you are looking for beautiful white beaches, exotic sub-tropical plants and a quality of life that is difficult to find in this busy World, then the Isles of Scilly is your destination of choice. Whether it’s an action packed trip or a relaxing break then Scilly has something for everyone.
There are five inhabited islands in the archipelago, set amongst hundreds of smaller islands and rocky islets, which provide homes to numerous species of seabirds and marine animals.
The Isles of Scilly lie squarely in the path of the Gulf Stream, creating a considerable improvement in the climate – surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and warmed by the North Atlantic Drift – Scilly has a milder climate than the mainland creating a haven for many types of flora and fauna. Migrating birds also rest here during their travels, making this an ideal spot for bird watching.
Once on the islands you will notice the slower pace of life, and being one of the safest areas in the UK islanders rarely even lock their front doors and children roam safely. Each island has a distinct character and we recommend visiting them all. There are regular daily passenger boat services to all the islands as boating is a vital way of life here on Scilly.
St Mary’s is the largest island (2½ miles by 1¾ miles), and the main population and economic centre; home to about three quarters of the population, with facilities that you would expect from any small town (Hugh Town); hospital, doctors & dentist, shops, Co-Operative, butchers, newsagent, Post Office, chemist, restaurants and bank (Lloyds TSB which has a cash point).
Hugh Town is also home to one of St Mary’s most popular beaches, Porthcressa which is only a short walk from the farm. The town is protected by the Garrison which was part of the 17th century fortifications of the area. There is a popular walk around the Garrison which boasts panoramic views to the other islands as well the centre piece of the Garrison, Star Caste, along with a children’s play park and football pitch. A gentle stroll from Hugh Town takes you past Peninnis Farm to Old Town which has a perfect beach, small church and houses the islands’ school.
St Mary’s provides a great base from which to explore the other islands. There is only 6 miles of roads but over 30 miles of paths and nature trails across the island, ideal for exploring so you can leave the car on the mainland along with the stress of driving and explore by foot, bike, bus or golf buggy!
St. Agnes, being a mile across, is one of the smallest of five inhabited islands with a community of only 72 people. St. Agnes changes constantly with the seasons. From November to March many islanders are involved in flower farming, harvesting early narcissus in the frost-free climate while the rest of the year is taken up with cultivation, fishing, and the sale of bulbs, flowers and craft products.
Packing in more than just staggering views, St. Agnes boasts a sea-front pub, fish restaurant, cafe’s, a post office and grocery store. Farms sell milk, eggs, meat, honey, narcissi and gin!
This rugged little island doesn’t sit alone at the edge of the country. It is joined to neighbour Gugh by a sandy causeway that bares itself to the ocean ebbs, creating two sheltered areas of water that are havens for bathers.
St Martin’s is the third largest island, and is the first land you see, with the distinguishing red and white Daymark, when travelling from the Mainland by sea or air. The island offers you an ideal day out for everyone with secluded, clean beaches and breath-taking scenery, with stunning views; such as across the vast expanse of Great Bay to the secluded tranquillity of Old Quay.
The character of the island is very much like its neighbour Tresco, with habitats ranging from the rugged, heather clad, cliffs of the north shore – shaped over the centuries by the relentless action of the North Atlantic’s winter gales, to the more sheltered southern aspect, characterised by small enclosed flower fields above sheltered sandy beaches and crystal clear waters.
Tresco, the second largest island in the group with a permanent population of about 150 people features an amazing variety of scenery. Wild rugged granite outcrops and heathland to the north, with sub-tropical sandy beaches and the famous Abbey Gardens in the South.
History and Legend are deeply rooted in the islands culture. Many people believe that Tresco was the legendary ‘Lyonesse’ or ‘land across the sea’ – the final resting-place of King Arthur. There are numerous castle ruins to discover on Tresco and, as well as being famous for the Abbey Gardens, Tresco is also known for its long safe sandy beaches.
‘Bryher’ means the land of hills and whilst on the island one should take a hike up Samson Hill to enjoy amazing panoramic views across Scilly and out to Bishop Rock Lighthouse. Bryher is a peaceful little island, home to the smallest Scillonian community. Bryher is a close neighbour to Tresco, and on a very low spring tide the channel between the two islands can be walked across, which is also a good shrimping spot!
Bryher’s roads are little more than tracks with traffic limited to the occasional tractor, quad or Landrover. The island farms have fresh produce for sale on the roadside with honesty boxes.
The character of this little island changes dramatically with the seasons; during the warm months of springtime, the island bursts into life with an abundance of colour filling the hedgerows and fields with the fragrant blooms of wild flowers. The rugged west coast faces the full force of the open Atlantic Ocean making Hell Bay the perfect place for storm watching on a blustery day.