Cornwall LivingIssue #113

An island escape

Why leave the country when you can book a break in paradise just past Landís End?

Imagine an island holiday without going abroad: the magical Isles of Scilly are just 28 miles off the coast of Cornwall, close enough to visit for a short autumn break to make the most of the last hints of summer. Scilly is the most south-westerly point of England and whether you sail along Cornwall’s amazing coastline on Scillonian III ferry or fly Skybus you will be on the islands in time for lunch.

Greeted on arrival with white sand beaches and clear blue seas, you could be forgiven for thinking you had flown long haul rather than a 15-minute hop from Land’s End, 30 minutes from Newquay or 60 minutes from Exeter. Even the ferry journey from Penzance takes less than three hours!

Late summer and autumn is a special time on Scilly – quieter and wilder. The islands are ablaze with wonderful warm hues, the wildlife thriving with activity and it is still warm enough for days spent outdoors enjoying the spectacular scenery. At this time of the year you’ll find something for foodies, walkers, wildlife enthusiasts and anyone seeking a little peace. As the islands are near to the Gulf Stream, they are warmer than the mainland which makes them a haven for migrating birds and early flowers. 

Once you set foot on the islands you begin to explore a world of few roads and even fewer cars. Life here moves at a more natural pace and is as relaxing as the rhythm of the tides. You might choose to ramble from the beach to a bar where you can enjoy slow-cooked, local food or you might just sit and watch one of the most awesome sunsets you will ever see. Discovering the delights of these sand-fringed islands will help to recharge your batteries and if you want to reconnect with nature, the grey seals, puffins and red squirrels will be pleased to guide your way. If it’s peace and quiet you’re looking for it’s never hard to find a tide-swept beach where yours are the only footprints in the sand. In the evenings, collapse in front of the fire in one of the local pubs and try some local delicacies, before heading outside with a blanket. The islands have virtually no light pollution and on a clear night the incredible dark skies allow you to see the Milky Way in all its splendour.

Moving between the islands is simply a matter of catching one of the inter-island ferries. The hub of the ferry service is St Mary’s – simply stroll down to the quayside, look for the chalkboards, and choose your adventure. On St Martin’s you will find great local food, the island’s famous flower farm and its own winery. For a truly once-in-a lifetime memory, try snorkelling in one of the island’s sandy coves surrounded by playful Atlantic grey seals. St Agnes is the very tip of the British Isles; it is wild and untamed. At low tide you can walk across the sandbar to the neighbouring island of Gugh, which is only a half-mile long and home to just three hardy locals.

Tresco, by contrast, seems stylish and cosmopolitan with its world famous Abbey Gardens and their collection of 20,000 sub-tropical plants. If walking the gardens gives you an appetite, Tresco can offer everything from pub food to fine dining. Bryher has a rugged Atlantic side with dramatic coastline, and occasionally waves to match, while the sheltered, eastern shore is sandy and calm. You can explore this island of contrasts on foot and its surrounding waters by kayak.

There are five inhabited islands and countless deserted ones to explore; each has its own allure. Constantly changing, dependably wild and beautiful, the Isles of Scilly draw people back time after time. Perhaps this is the year for you to come and take your part in the
islands’ story.

In the light of Covid-19, Isles of Scilly Travel are offering transferable booking with free amendments and cancellations on both Skybus and Scillionian III. Both Scillionian III and Skybus aircraft are operating in a Covid-secure manner with social distancing, mandatory mask wearing and other practices to ensure the safety of passengers, crews and the islanders.

Whichever way you choose to travel to the islands, the journey will be a unique part of your holiday memories and there is far more than you can see in a day, or even a week, which is why so many people come back to the islands time after time. So, what are you waiting for? Book online now for your next Scilly escape.


Isles of Scilly Travel