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Isles of Scilly - An Island Paradise

Home > Cornwall > Island Hopping | Long Weekend | Walks | Weekend Escapes
by Carole Liivrand (subscribe)
I love to explore & share my experiences and photographs with others on the off-chance that they too get a buzz out of simple things at their own back door. www.instagram.com/photoopportunity/
Published August 19th 2014
St Mary's, Gateway to Isles of Scilly
Dating back 300 million years, the granite foundation that forms the Isles of Scilly is today trodden by modern man.

isles of scilly, st mary's, st marys, hughtown, scillonian, skybus, speros
Rugged St Mary's Coastline


The archipelago of around 140 rocky outcrops has only five Islands which are inhabited.

isles of scilly, st mary's, st marys, hughtown, scillonian, skybus, speros
An afternoon chat with fellow fishermen


The unique and rugged beauty attracts both new and returning visitors, some of whom come back year after year. Tell someone you are going there and you will most likely receive a quizzical look or a blank response.

isles of scilly, st mary's, st marys, hughtown, scillonian, skybus, speros
Bay in Hughtown, St Mary's


This little-known gem, located in the Atlantic Ocean, 28 miles off the most south-westerly point of England, and part of the ceremonial county of Cornwall, is reached by plane or ferry.

Taking off from Lands End Airport
Aerial view of Lands End


You can take the SkyBus , from either Exeter (60 mins), Newquay (30 mins) or Lands End Airport (15 mins). It is reasonably priced, offers great views, and is very quick, especially if you leave from Lands End as we did.

isles of scilly, st mary's, st marys, hughtown, scillonian, skybus, speros
St Mary's Airport


The "Scillionian III" Ferry takes about 2 hours 40 minutes from Penzance and can be a little rocky, depending on the sea conditions. All documentation recommends taking travel sickness pills if you are prone to sea sickness.

Whichever way you choose to travel, St Mary's is the gateway to the rest of the islands and definitely warrants at least a two or three night stay.

isles of scilly, st mary's, st marys, hughtown, scillonian, skybus, speros
Speros Restaurant at about 10 pm


isles of scilly, st mary's, st marys, hughtown, scillonian, skybus, speros
Chatting with Local Business Owners at Speros Restaurant


Hughtown is the 'hub' with shops, cafe's, restaurants, a museum and the quay where the Ferry docks. All inter-island departures also go from here, and as walking is a very popular pastime on all islands, you will see many people kitted out with their backpacks and walking staffs, and most likely a dog or two! Dogs appear to enjoy the Ferry and small "tripper' boat transfers between islands as much as the people.

isles of scilly, st mary's, st marys, hughtown, scillonian, skybus, speros, day tripper boats
Day-Tripper Inter Island Boats at the Quay


Although St Mary's is the largest island, it is only 2.5 square miles and has a population of less than 2,000, yet offers several white sandy beaches. Hughtown has three of them.

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One of many eateries


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The Farm Cafe Deli


isles of scilly, st mary's, st marys, hughtown, scillonian, skybus, Atlantic Inn
Great Meals and Views at the Atlantic Inn


isles of scilly, st mary's, st marys, hughtown, scillonian, skybus, speros, star castle hotel
Dessert at the Star Castle Hotel


The smaller settlement of Old Town has its own beautiful beach as well as a pub, shop, cafes, and church where former British Prime Minister Sir Harold Wilson is buried. He fell in love with the place and bought a very simple cottage where he and his family could spend their summer holidays. At the time of writing this article, his poet wife, Mrs Mary Wilson, now well into her nineties, and her family still used the cottage regularly.

Away from the towns you will find beautiful walks and nature trails with miles of stunning scenery, interesting seascapes and rocky coves, large stretches of deserted white sandy beaches and some amazing Bronze Age archeological sites.

Take a stroll from Hughtown, towards the Star Castle Hotel. En route you will discover the Garrison Gate, the starting point of the Garrison Walk - a 'must do' gentle one hour walk around the Garrison which was built as an impregnable fortress surround the Star Castle in1593.

isles of scilly, st mary's, st marys, hughtown, scillonian, skybus, speros, garrison walk, star castle
Garrison Walk Gates


isles of scilly, st mary's, st marys, hughtown, scillonian, skybus, speros, star castle hotel


isles of scilly, st mary's, st marys, hughtown, scillonian, skybus, speros, garrison walk
Garrison Walk


isles of scilly, st mary's, st marys, hughtown, scillonian, skybus, speros, garrison walk
Garrison Walk


isles of scilly, st mary's, st marys, hughtown, scillonian, skybus, the farm cafe deli, canon
Garrison Walk - Defending Hughtown


Many people come to St Mary's for a day trip. If that's all you can manage, then so be it. Five to seven days staying on two different islands and visiting the other three inhabited islands would be my advice.

These are Bryher, St Agnes, Tresco and St Martins.

When to visit?
According to "WorldWeatherOnline.com"
"The Isles of Scilly have a temperate Oceanic climate, amongst the mildest and warmest climates in the UK. The regular yearly temperature is 11.6 C. Winters are amongst the warmest in the country because of southerly latitude and moderating effects of the ocean. Summers are not as warm as on the mainland. Most probably, this is the sunniest area in the UK with on average 7.6 hours per day in July. On average, there are fewer than 2 days of air frost per year. This mild climate has resulted in the islands developing a thriving flower industry." Read more ...

If you want to swim, plan to go in summer. We went in early June when the days were long, sunny, mild and beautiful. If flowers are your interest and, then April/May might be your choice.
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Why? Mild climate, beautiful scenery, wonderful holiday destination with a long history and lots of outdoorsy things to do
When: April to October - check first
Where: 28 miles off the coast of South West England
Cost: Reasonable
Your Comment
Being a Scillonian myself (born on the main island, St Marys) I loved seeing your article on Scilly (& also on the island of Bryher). The islands are featured in the book '100 Islands to see before you Die'.
David, Perth
by ellis (score: 0|6) 1096 days ago
Erin, thanks for your comments. I have just looked at your articles and see I have a lot of reading to do. You have featured some pretty interesting places.
by Carole Liivrand (score: 2|725) 1549 days ago
Great photos - looks beautiful!
by Erin (score: 2|522) 1549 days ago
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