Tresco and the Off Islands | Scilly Isles
The Isles of Scilly, only 28 miles off the tip of Lands End Cornwall, warmed by the Gulf Stream. A group of low lying islands, some guidebooks say over a hundred, rising from an often crystal clear sea, golden beaches, hills covered with heath, rocks battered by winter storms, first settled in prehistoric times, not forgetting Tresco Abbey Gardens- a subtropical paradise. With pictures.
St Mary's, the largest of the five inhabited islands, yet only 2 miles across. And the most visited largely because the Quay in the capital Hugh Town is the landing for the Scillonian and because the Scillies airport is also on St Mary's. Lots to see and do. Hire a bicycle and explore the Island, keen walkers might wish to do so on foot. Visit the remains of Bronze Age tombs at Innisidgen with superb views towards St Martins, climb the walls of the Garrison in Hugh Town. Stroll along the leafy lanes to Old Town and Porthcressa with its real suntrap of a beach. To gain an appreciation of the history of the Islands from prehistory to shipwrecks, why not visit the fascinating museum in Hugh Town?
Scilly Isles Walking Holidays- one of the most popular activities, not surprising considering the stunning scenery and the fact that the only transport on some of the islands is the tractor or electric golf buggy to transport you smoothly to your hotel. Those of you interested in wildlife will enjoy a "sea bird special" boat trip; hopefully see seals, and maybe puffins. Their numbers are on the increase but consider yourself very lucky to see one of these so comical birds.
Flowers from the Scilly Isles one of the islands' most famous exports- crops of narcissi and gladioli for the UK market. The islands exceptionally mild climate means that the first blooms often appear as early as late November with the main narcissi crop ready for picking around Christmas, the fields then a galaxy of orange and yellow.
Take a boat trip to one of the off islands- the most popular destination is of course Tresco famous for its Abbey Gardens. All have a unique character- from St Martins with its wide sweeping bays and beaches, to the rugged coast of Hell Bay on Bryer, to the community feel of St Agnes. Mention must be made of the uninhabited islands, with names such as Tern, Eastern and Western Rocks and Annet to the distinctive twin hills of Samson. Several are particularly important for wildlife.
Getting to Scilly. Take the Scillonian from Penzance for the over 2 hour 40 min long journey to St Mary's. Else catch the helicopter for the 20-minute flight, again from Penzance to land at either Tresco or St Mary's. Or the Skybus plane from Lands End Airfield, or Newquay to St Mary's.
Getting Around- Boat trips. Boatmen run scheduled services from the Quay on St Mary's to all the inhabited islands, as well as trips geared at visitors to two or three islands in a single day. We particularly enjoyed the three islander; it did mean a long day and an overnight stop on St Mary's. All trips are dependent upon the weather, as is the skipper's choice of landing which of course largely depends on the state of the tide. All the inhabited off islands have their own boat service connecting to the other islands.
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