The Isles of Scilly, located about 45 km off the coast of Cornwall, are an archipelago of about 16 sq km consisting of 5 inhabited islands and numerous other uninhabited ones, they represent the most south-western point of the British Isles.
In the five inhabited islands of St. Mary’s (the main island), Tresco, St. Martin’s, Bryher and St Agnes resides a population of just over 2,000 inhabitants. The Scilly are famous, thanks to the Gulf Stream, for their sweet and mild climate and above all for the beautiful sandy beaches. So the most important industry in the archipelago today is tourism.
In 1975 the Scilly were consequently declared an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Among the fauna, the islands are home to a large colony of seals, and are also an important point of passage for migratory birds. This is something that attracts many bird watchers especially in October, which is the period of greatest influx of birds. Another attraction not to be overlooked are also the beautiful spring blooms of wild flowers.
WHAT TO SEE: THE MAIN ATTRACTIONS OF THE SCILLY ISLANDS
Each Isle of Scilly has its own particular characteristics:
St Mary’s (6.29 sq km; 1,666 inhabitants): it is the main island of the archipelago. Hugh Town is its capital and major economic center. Here you will find a local history museum, the airport and the ferry port that connects the archipelago to Penzance in Cornwall.
Other villages on the island are Old Town, Porthloo, Holy Vale, Maypole, Rocky Hill and Telegraph. The island of St. Mary’s is the only island to have a significant road network development (15 km). So the bicycle is an excellent alternative way to get around the island, which reaches the highest point in Telegraph Hill at about 45 meters high.
On the island there are numerous ancient monuments including a megalithic village, ancient tombs and medieval fortifications.
Tresco (2.97 sq km; 180 inhabitants): it is the second island of the archipelago, and the one with the most varied scenario. In fact, we pass from the wild north coast rich in granite boulders, to the magnificent beaches of the east and south coast. The island is also home to the remains of two ancient castles (Cromwell’s Castle and King Charles’s Castle) and the sub-tropical gardens of Tresco Abbey Gardens with the remains of an arch from the ancient medieval monastery.
St Martin’s (2.37 sq km; 142 inhabitants): it is the northernmost island among the inhabited ones, has three small settlements called respectively Higher Town, Middle Town and Lower Town. The island has numerous white sand beaches.
St. Agnes (1.48 sq km; 73 inhabitants): it is the most south-west island among the inhabited ones, a strip of sand unites it with the island of Gugh. The island has some sandy bays and a 17th century lighthouse.
Bryher (1.32 sq km; 92 inhabitants): it is the smallest of the inhabited islands of the archipelago, among the beaches worth mentioning is the wild Hell Bay in the north and the white sand strip of Rushy Bay in the south.
Ferries: There are regular ferry services (Scilly Steamship Company) between the port of Penzance on the English coast and the archipelago of the Isles of Scilly. The time taken by the crossing is approximately 2 hours and 40 minutes.
Air flights: Newquay, Exeter, Bristol and Bournemouth are the closest airports.
Air link services (Isles of Scilly Skybus) to St Mary’s Airport are available from Land’s End, Newquay, Exeter, Southampton and Bristol, with connections from other British airports. From Penzance there are also transfer services on board helicopters (British International Helicopters) for St. Mary’s Airport and Tresco Heliport.
How to move between the islands: There are regular boat connections between the islands of the archipelago.