The Isles of Scilly, West Cornwall
2017 dates: Aug 21-28. Due to a cancellation, 1 double room now available. £1,395 pp shared basis, srs applies. 2018 dates: August 20-27, advance bookings now being accepted.
This enchanting guided walking holiday of the Isles of Scilly is quite unique... Some of the finest coastal walking in the world on a unique archipelago of beautiful islands with white sand beaches and sub tropical vegetation, 28 miles off-shore from Lands End, West Cornwall.
Walking and exploring with Martin is a wonderful way to discover the distinctive ambience, landscapes, wildlife, archaeology and spectacular seascapes of these visually stunning isles.
Over the years we have dined at many of the islands award winning restaurants and pubs. We love the fabulous choice of freshly caught sea food, hand made artisan bread, locally grown vegetables and the amazing selection of wines from some of the finest vineyards in the world.
We look forward to sharing the joyful experience of a stunning sunset, a superbly cooked evening meal and a glass of wine after a day of walking in peace and beauty!
An Outstanding Area of Natural Beauty The Scilly Isles are an exquisite archipelago of about 100 granite islets, many un-inhabited - but some five with permanent populations. We shall stay on St Mary’s (the largest - some 12 miles in circumference) and we will use the wonderful passenger launches to access a different island each day.
We shall walk on St Mary’s, St Agnes, Bryher, Tresco, St Martins and perhaps the un-inhabited island of Samson. These islands are composed of granite and they do not have any high hills - the highest point being only 187 feet above sea level. However, there are still many spectacular granite headlands with cliffs some 100 feet high. On most of the islands, there are numerous white sand beaches and incredibly eroded granite outcrops - with a face on every one!
The islands are home to a large number of prehistoric monuments: in particular, chambered burial tombs dating from the late Neolithic and early Bronze Age. It seems that in ancient times, it was most desirable for tribal chieftains to have themselves "laid to rest" on these islands - which says something about their mysterious beauty. There is even an enduring belief/myth that King Arthur is buried here...
The renowned travel writer Nick Haslam in The Times Online has featured this holiday - Read it here (warning - requires a Sunday Times subscription).
Western Maritime Heath is profuse here in August (a dense mix of colourful heathers and western short gorse). The islands have a wonderful almost sub-tropical flora, being bathed by the Gulf Stream, which keeps them mild the whole year round.
They are famous for their heathlands and their early spring flowers - particularly narcissi and other daffodils, geraniums - and later, great swathes of sea pinks and sea campions and beautiful succulents such as mesembryanthemum and Hottentot fig. In late summer, bell and ling heathers abound and glorious blue and white agapanthus and pink and white belladonna lilies are to be seen.
On Tresco, there is a famous walled garden called “The Abbey Gardens”, which is set amongst the ruins of an old medieval priory from the 13th century. Created by Augustas Smith in the 1800's, the gardens now have many exotic rare plants and are truly sub-tropical in nature. People come from all over the world to visit these unique gardens.
The wildlife is very varied, with seals, puffins, guillemots, razorbills, shags, cormorants and many other species. There are numerous boat trips we can take to view the wildlife and the spectacular scenery. The waters are exceptionally clear and turquoise in colour, with fantastic seaweeds in abundance. We could even spot a turtle, dolphins or a shark. Boat trips to the other islands from St Mary’s run every day and are between 20 and 35 mins in duration.
Our usual plan is to spend a good day (perhaps more) exploring the largest island (St Mary’s), where we shall stay. This island has a circumference of approximately 12 miles and has the largest footpath network. It is also the most rural island, with large arable areas under cultivation. Then we propose that we boat to four of the other islands and walk clear around them in a day.
Most of these islands are considerably smaller and can easily be explored in a day - leaving enough time to visit the Abbey Gardens on Tresco and also to be able to relax a little on remote beaches and on stunning cliff tops covered in wild flowers, with spectacular “island studded” views in all directions. Here, there is always time for quiet contemplation.
Of all the beautiful qualities that these islands possess, the unique light is probably the one that is most commented on. The sea is usually an incredible turquoise and very clear. The boat trips to and from the outer islands are a real treat.
There is an ancient legend in Cornwall that there once existed an advanced culture on those islands, then called Lyoness, which was destroyed in a great cataclysmic inundation back in the dark ages. There is some geological evidence that this may in fact have occurred.
The island’s history is long and convoluted - having been the home of several famous personages over historical time - if even just for a brief time. For example, the future King Charles II came here to try and escape from Oliver Cromwell during the English Civil War. After Cromwell had murdered his brother Charles I, he did eventually return to England and became King... but that's a long story!
Price for the eight day/seven night Scilly Island guided walking holiday in 2017 is GBP £1,395. There are a variety of rooms available, all with beautiful sea views - singles, doubles and twins. There are 4 small single rooms available with no single supplement, so we strongly suggest you book early to reserve your spot, especially if you require a single room. This holiday usually sells out very quickly, especially the single rooms.
Includes fine B&B accommodation in wonderful guest house directly overlooking the sea - great full cooked English breakfasts, superb 3 course evening meals (with house wines) in a variety of very good local restaurants and excellent character pubs - most specializing in fish and other international cuisines. Also included are 4 return boat rides to the outer islands and full guidance on each of the days.
With your journey by ferry or plane, you will find that apart from the five to six days of guided explorations, you will also have one whole free day and two part free days (the arrival and departure days) to 'do your own thing' - something everyone likes to do once they have discovered their own little paradise.
To view photos from previous Scilly Isles guided walking holidays please go to our Facebook page.
See a lovely little 'time-lapse' film of the islands below.
2017 price is £1,395 per person.
2018 fully inclusive holiday price is £1,435 per person, fully inclusive.
Guide price for the "Scillonian" ferry from Penzance (2-3 hours), £95 return. There are also daily flights from several mainland airports: Exeter, Newquay and Lands End.
For a fully illustrated brochure/itinerary, please contact us.