In late May 2006, I was lucky enough to travel to the Scilly Isles, 28 miles off the South West coast of Britain. I set off on the Scillonian, a small ferry which doesn’t take cars (hooray!). Despite spending most of the journey looking, I didn’t see any dolphins, basking sharks or pilot whales. I did speak to the Captain who said they had seen basking sharks one week before – much earlier in the season than usual.
The highest point on the islands is just 44 metres above sea level so you can leave your climbing gear at home. The Scillys are a strange mix of rugged Cornish coastline and a sub-tropical paradise – and are very beautiful with it.
Here is the Scillonian III in the port at Hugh Town, the largest town on the island of St Mary’s, one of five inhabited islands. It (the boat) has a capacity of 600 passengers and takes two and a half hours to get to the Scilly Isles from Penzance.
Downtown Hugh Town.
Palm trees 1 – Cars 0. How many English towns can claim a scoreline like that? Some of the locals do have cars but things are very quiet on the islands, ideal for a short hike or bike.
Plant life is quite different from what you might expect in England. The climate of the Scilly Isles is very mild with only a 9 degree difference between the warmest and coldest months – all thanks to the Gulfstream.
Nice to look at – and also nice to see that it hasn’t been snapped off by vandals.
More flowers, sea campion perhaps?
This is the major highway leading out of Hugh Town.
Here I am, tucking into a rather expensive and not very nice pasty.
Here is the entrance to a small bay at Old Town which, unsurprisingly, used to be the capital of St Mary’s though Hugh Town is now the main population centre. On the whole island there are only 1666 residents.
There is a bus that runs a 9-mile circular route around the island and some of the locals have cars. But cycling is an excellent way of getting about on the Isles of Scilly (and just about everywhere else in the world).
The modest current location of Harold Wilson, Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1964-1970 and 1974-1976.
Bluebells. It looks like the original British version rather than a Spanish invader.
A song thrush – declining in numbers in the UK but are still a common sight in the Scilly Isles.
Clotted cream, home made strawberry jam, freshly-baked scones and a lovely cup of tea. What more could a hungry hiker ask for?
About 10 passengers can squeeze into this light aircraft for the 15-minute flight to Land’s End.
An aerial view of St Mary’s. St, Martin’s (Thanks JB) is visible in the background.
A better view of St. Martin’s. Is this really England? Amazing white beaches, turquoise sea, sub tropical climate, amazing vegetation…
On a day with no wind it is sometimes possible to see dolphins and basking sharks below on the journey to Land’s End. Alas, on this day, there was quite a breeze.
Travel to and from the Isles of Scilly, click here
Excellent history and genealogical information, click here
Hiking South West England Some sites of England