TRAVEL: Enchanted by the Isles of Scilly

The Isles of Scilly

The Isles of Scilly - Credit: Contributed

For a few moments I caught a magnificent gannet in my binocular vision and followed it as it climbed higher into a clear blue sky over St Martin’s in the Isles of Scilly.

Its long snow- white wings with their coal black tips flashed as the bird suddenly folded them and plunged headlong into the sea, some unsuspecting fish caught in its vision.

It was the first afternoon of our July week’s holiday amid these stunningly beautiful Isles of St Mary’s, St Martins, Tresco, with its famous tropical gardens, Bryher and St Agnes locked in their own semi sub tropical micro climate just 37 miles off Lands End.

MV Scillonion

MV Scillonion - Credit: Contributed

What a busy day it had been, firstly on our two-and-a-half hour voyage from Penzance on the MV Scillonian and then transferring to on to one of the little fleet of launches that had come alongside to pick up our luggage for St Martins and the other off islands.

Twenty minutes later we had landed at Lower Town Quay right outside the secluded Karma Hotel, built like an unobtrusive row of granite cottages above a dazzling white sandy beach.

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Like all the other islands, St Martin’s also offers self- catering as well as a B&B and sheltered camping although sleeping under canvas is not an option on Tresco.

Wandering along a sandy path around the bay from the Higher Town Quay visitors will come across St Martins Vineyard taken over a couple of years ago by Nottinghamshire couple James Faulconbridge and Holly Robbins who came to Scilly on holiday in 2018 and called in for a wine tasting

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Said Holly:” When we heard that the owners, who first planted the vines in 1996 were looking to retire, we jumped at the chance of taking over and moved heaven and earth to make our dream come true.”

Great Bay on St Martins

Great Bay on St Martins - Credit: Contributed

Deciding to picnic at Great Bay my wife Jenny and I called in at the island bakery run by husband-and-wife team Barney and Ella McLachlan.

Barney works flat out in the bakery catering for the islanders and a growing number of holiday visitors while Ella keeps the books and runs her own on line of skin care products called Phoenix and Providence.

The following afternoon we hired a sea kayak from Higher Town Beach and spent an amazing afternoon paddling around the bay and its ring of islands in flat calm waters under a clear blue sky.

To our delight, a seal suddenly popped its head out of the water and decided to follow us around thinking perhaps that we were the entertainment.

MV Scillonion at St Marys Quay

MV Scillonion at St Marys Quay - Credit: Contributed

Now it was time to return to the main holiday island of St Marys to stay at the historic Star Castle Hotel built in 1593 and perched above Hugh Town on The Garrison Hill.

The Star Castle Hotel

The Star Castle Hotel - Credit: Contributed

It is run by James Francis and his wife Ella and has its own vineyard created back in 2009 by James’ father Robert, the current chairman of the Isles of Scilly Council

We arrived just after lunch and spent a lovely afternoon walking around the island’s spectacular garrison walls overlooking both the town and the neighbouring island of St Agnes.

The following morning, we cruised out to the spectacular Bishop Rock Lighthouse and back again for a walk around the coastal path to Old Town with its quiet bay and ancient church where former premier and island lover Harold Wilson is buried.

Our last day was spent strolling around the quiet island of Bryher with its spectacular Hell Bay so named because of the giant Atlantic waves rolling in at the height of a storm.

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We enjoyed the excellent facilities of The Karma St Martin’s Hotel and The Star Castle, St Marys

For passage to Scilly call Isles of Scilly Travel, visit www.islesofscilly-travel.

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