Scilly Isles

The Isles of Scilly are an archipelago off the Cornish coast, in southwest England. The islands are covered in heathland, and fringed by sandy beaches such as Great Bay on St. Martin’s. On Tresco, one of the 5 inhabited islands, Tresco Abbey Garden is home to subtropical plants and also the Valhalla Museum, displaying shipwrecked figureheads. The tower of 17th-century Cromwell’s Castle stands at the north of Tresco. The Isles of Scilly generally have a warmer climate than the rest of the UK, due to the position of the isles in relation to the ocean and the spectacular warmth of the gulf stream. In 1834, Augustus Smith took over the leasehold of the islands at a time of great poverty and set about reforming their running. He built schools, restructured the farming industry and generally raised standards.He also settled on Tresco and created a wonderful garden in the grounds of its Benedictine abbey. His descendants still lease the island today, and the garden attracts visitors from around the world, drawn to its mix of species taken from across five different continents.

🙂 No Cars. Flight in by helicopter. Gardens.

🙁 Expensive! People steal your bicycles when leaving the pub – I have little legs so it was a big problem for me as I was left with a HUGE bike.

Currency: GBP £

THREE things we did not know about the Scilly Isles:

  1. One of the most interesting facts about the Isles of Scilly is its geography. From the west coast of St Agnes the next landmass is the USA, over 3000 miles away across the Atlantic Ocean. 
  2. The Isles of Scilly are 28 miles off the coast of Land’s End in Cornwall. You can reach them by Scillonian ferry (3 hours) or the Skybus plane (45 mins) easily. Even easier, you can also get from England to the Isles of Scilly via helicopter (15 minutes) too.
  3. Tresco is the second largest of the islands and a subtropical gem. It is the only one of the islands to be privately-owned; it is currently cared for by Lucy and Robert Dorrien-Smith. In 1834, the Duchy of Cornwall leased the Isles of Scilly to a Hertfordshire squire, Augustus Smith, who became the Lord Proprietor of the islands. 

We were invited by friends who have a timeshare and a boat share on Tresco. It was quite an adventure as we took the overnight train from Reading to Penzance…. a word of caution – beware of date and timings when you book as the train is at midnight and we had booked the wrong day! Fortunately they still managed to find us sleeper cabins! On arrival in Penzance we strolled across to the helicopter checkin and were soon flying in to Tresco admiring the stunning views!

There are no cars on Tresco and little buggies collect you and transport you and your luggage to your hotel or timeshare.

We had booked into a hotel and Trent stayed with our friends. It has spectacular views and we chilled out after lunch.

That afternoon our friends came to collect us and we did a boat trip to St Mary’s.

We then collected our n]bicycles from the Centre and drove to see the timeshare which is lovely.

The girls wanted to go crabbing.

We dared Paul to go for a swim! 🙂

This island has a little bit of everything – from dramatic rocky outcrops, bronze age burial sites and romantic castle ruins, to secluded sandy beaches and, of course, the world famous Tresco Abbey Garden which was established in the 1830s by Augustus Smith.  This horticultural paradise hosts a spectacular collection of more than 20,000 exotic plants from all corners of the world – many of which cannot be grown anywhere else in Britain. The Valhalla collection within the Garden is equally impressive with its colourful display of figureheads salvaged from the islands’ shipwrecks.

The rugged north of the island is a great place to walk and explore, while in the centre of the island, there are bird hides to seek out around Tresco’s freshwater pools. You can hire bikes to travel around, or if you are feeling active, borrow a boat, windsurf or kayak from Tresco Sailing Club. The island is also excellent for beachcombing or simply relaxing on a beach – there’s no finer spot to chill than the sugar-fine white sand of Pentle and Appletree Bays.

Steve had prepared a treasure hunt for us all on bicycle…we followed a trail of clues all around the island learning interesting facts along the way – we had an absolute brilliant day after Simon, Charlotte and I solved the riddle: the first letter of every location on the treasure hunt spelt: DRY WHITE WINE! We ended up at a beautiful spot for sundowners while the kids played cards.

Afterwards we headed to a pub for dinner but, as is apparently common practice – someone stole my bike and I was left with a huge thing that I couldn’t ride and kept falling off! Quite amusing.

The next morning everyone came to see us off when we took the helicopter back t Penzance for our train back to Reading.

A great weekend in great company with great food and scenery…a wonderful place.

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