umour has it that Will and Kate, the Royal couple, will be spending their honeymoon on local British soil in the Isles of Scilly, the closest thing Britain has to romantic secluded islands. What’s the attraction? Well, privacy and seclusion might be one attraction but there are so many more things to recommend this little archipelago at Britain’s land’s end that it’s hard to know where to start.
If you go to the very southernmost tip of Great Britain, to land’s end, and then go 30 miles further via air or water– you’ll arrive at The Isles of Scilly (pronounced “silly”).
This is a cluster of small granite islands which are all that’s left of one large island, overtaken by the sea within recorded history. Now there are five inhabited islands and countless rocks, reefs and islets that make up the whole group. Together, they are fabled to be the remnants of the lost land of Lyonnesse. King Arthur is said to be buried somewhere on Scilly, possibly in the Eastern Isles where some uninhabited islands bear his name.
Populated by a friendly community of just over 2000 islanders, Scilly has a tranquillity and a quality of life long lost to less isolated places. Exotic plants and wild flowers, ancient cairns and crumbling castles, enough shipwrecks to satiate the most avid scuba diver (there have been more shipwrecks around these Isles than anywhere else in the world) and much more.
The Scillys are especially famed for the high quality of the unspoiled maritime environment. The entire Islands are designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and every inch of the coastline is Heritage Coast. Key features of the Islands are the clear, unpolluted sea, abundant wildlife, historical and archaeological remains, excellent walking and the opportunity to observe seals and sea birds at close quarters. This is a very unique place to visit!
There are five inhabited Islands and each has a distinct character. The second largest island is Tresco, an “exclusive private sub-tropical island, …where seals and dolphins swim, crowds are unknown, children play in safety, cars are banned and the only sound is bird-song. Tresco offers four miles of silver sand, sheltered coves, subtropical plants, caves, ruined castles and a warm Gulf Stream climate.” (http://www.tresco.co.uk) Tresco has been the home of the Dorrien Smith family for over 160 years.
At the northern end of this small island, the landscape is wild and barren with wind-blasted heathland and rugged granite outcrops. The central section of is made up of green fields, cottages and farmland leading down through an avenue of dense trees to the wonderful, world famous Abbey Garden to the Southern side with its sand dunes and shell strewn beaches. It is the growing of flowers in the central part of the island (especially narcissus) which has given the island its nickname of “England’s Island of Flowers”.
Although Tresco and the other islands are not large, there is still plenty to see and do for the more restless vacationer. Boat trips among the islands are common and inexpensive, and if you choose to visit the other islands you will have plenty to occupy your time:
- St Mary’s – megalithic villages, coastal walks, historical remains, wildlife walks, Island Museum, bus tours.
- Tresco – sub-tropical garden, historical remains, maritime museum.
- St Martin’s – local bakery, painting course, fishing, sailing.
- Bryher – boat trips
- St Agnes – ancient remains, craft shops.
In addition, there is golf, tennis, windsurfing, sailing, boating, horse riding, cycling, fishing, diving, canoeing, rock climbing, painting, glass making… Enough?
Many of the available accommodations on Tresco are restored period cottages that are leased in a timeshare scheme, affiliated with RCI for exchange purposes. Every single one is either on the sea or within a five minute stroll of a beach. They vary from a small one-bedroomed flat with a view over the bird-life of the Great Pool, to a full five-bedroomed house within a walled garden. Six of these cottages are specifically set aside for rental. The rest comprise an RCI Gold Crown timeshare resort.
These cottages are part of old Tresco – traditionally built years ago of granite and slate and brought comfortably up to date. Every one is different; some are in rural positions, others are on the beach. They sleep from two to 10 people. All have a well-maintained sub-tropical garden in which to relax.
Says their Website: “We meet all visitors staying on TRESCO at the heliport or quays, and transport them – free of charge – to their accommodation. If you are staying in a cottage, we will arrange for any food shopping order to be delivered to await your arrival. Bicycles are available for hire, and a golf-buggy (limited availability) for the disabled. Various dinghies and power-boats are available for hire during the season, and there are regular boat trips to other islands, as well as circular trips to see puffins, seals and seabirds. Many uninhabited islands can be visited for picnics, walking etc.”
If you are looking for a vacation experience that is peaceful and “away from it all” without having to suffer any discomfort, then Tresco may be the place for you. There is only room for a few hundred visitors to stay on the whole island, so it is never crowded. Small enough to walk round in a day, it is still one of the most varied small islands in the world. Don’t expect much in the way of organised activities, though. This is a place which you and your family will enjoy exploring in safety and tranquillity. This is life as it used to be…
The Tresco Estate
Isles of Scilly
Cornwall TR24 0QQ
PHONE: 01720 422849
Some Web sites to explore for more information:
- http://www.tresco.co.uk/ – The official website for the island of Tresco
- http://www.scillyflowers.co.uk/ – Scilly flowers for sale, with a webcam
- http://www.simplyscilly.co.uk/ –The authoritative source for the Scilly Isles
- http://www.islesofscilly-travel.co.uk/ – – Travel Newsletter
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