I had wanted to travel to the Isles of Scilly since 2004, when I studied abroad at Cambridge University and I heard tales in local magazines about how wonderful the islands were and started to dream of going. Well-traveled colleagues also spoke of a group of islands off the Cornish coast with beaches like those of the Caribbean and life with a laidback, almost Mediterranean island vibe. Yet, I pondered whether the tales were accurate and was unfortunately not able to travel to the Isles of Scilly then.
I needed to see it for myself finally and made that dream come true, traveling through 3 of the 5 inhabited islands in 48 hours. I have now verified the tales. The Isles of Scilly are truly special.
For people like me, caught up in a frenetic pace filled with technology and a busy lifestyle, going to the Isles of Scilly was the perfect escape. It is welcoming, safe, and easy-going. You can unplug and unwind. When you go to the Isles of Scilly, you make your own experiences, and I want to share some of mine, and some of my thoughts, with you.
The Isles of Scilly offers freedom. Swap your daily commute for a boat trip. Step off the treadmill and step onto a rugged coast path. Ditch schedules and get lost in hedge-lined lanes that are not even on your map. Go sea swimming, trail running, kayaking, gig racing, cycling or horse riding.
First Impressions of the Isles of Scilly:
You simply have to smile when you arrive at a place where your every step is through picture-postcard villages bounded by sweeping green hills and along unspoiled coastline is filled with birdsong, surrounded by wildflowers erupting into a kaleidoscope of color and butterflies, and under big, blue skies. It is no wonder that every inch of the Isles of Scilly was declared an Area of Outstanding Beauty in 1975.
It is also an ancient land rich in mystery, heritage, and legend that stays with you long after you leave for home.
In terms of legend, the Isles of Scilly are the remains of the Lost Land of Lyonesse, to which King Arthurâs men retreated after their leaderâs last fatal battle. Archaeological remains found in burial mounds found all over the island show that the islands have been inhabited for at least 4,000 years. In fact, the islands have the greatest densities of archeological sites anywhere in Britain. The Phoenicians and Romans traveled to the islands, and later a famous abbey was centered on the island of Tresco.
The islands were the frontline of Englandâs defenses and were fortified during the late Elizabethan age, became a Royalist stronghold during the English Civil War, and were closely guarded during both World Wars. Later, UK Prime Minister Harold Wilson often elected to vacation on the islands and is buried beachside on St. Maryâs, perhaps because the Isles feature such a rich heritage, and deliver so many soul-lifting rewards.
Where else in the world- in a single day- can you sight a Bronze Age burial ground 3,000 years old, explore a ruined castle, run and swim across an entire island, sunset sail to another isle passing rare birdlife on the way, grab freshly caught lobster, and then stroll across a beach all to ourselves to enjoy the feast?
Sunshine and Island Life:
Despite the fact that tourism has become a big part of the islandsâ economy, this has not destroyed the importance of farming and fishing. This is because the islands are located at the end of the North Atlantic Drift and are gifted with a unique climate. Frosts and snows are rare, and the gloriously long summer features exceptional hours of sunlight, sometimes from around 6am until almost 10pm. We went in mid-June, which saw warm weather, and long light evenings as we explored secret coves, shimmering bays, and plummeting cliffs.
Outtakes of the food and adventures:
I want to warn you though, the islands have a few wineries, a brewery, a distillery, and a few pubs. These are not the sort of islands that feature theme parks or raucous nightclubs. Island activities focus on seeking peace and inspiration from clear blue water, golden sands, rugged heathland, wild flowers and dramatic rock formations. You would be hard pressed to breathe cleaner air, and at night you look up to unpolluted darkness and observe the magical Milky Way, planets, and stars in all their splendor.
Each island has its own unique personality, features and natural beauty, and each can be walked- top to toe- in just a few hours. Because the isles offer so much diverse and unique experiences, this may sound a touch daunting but have no fear- we have some special tips for you in terms of getting there and getting around!
There is a range of ways to get there- from steamship with Isles of Scilly Steamship Company that we took (super time- they have local craft beer on board friends!), to a new helicopter service, from Land's End airport to St. Mary's, operated by Isles of Scilly Travel. There are also many choices in terms of accommodations, from camping on Bryher, like we did with Bryher Campsite (we awoke in the morning to birdsong serving as our alarm- how great is that?), to luxurious hotels.
âIn terms of food and beverage choices- believe us, there are more than a few, and they are all to die for! We loved grabbing delicious picnic items from Bryher Shop on Bryher and from the New Inn on Tresco. Our favorite event was the challenging but amazing Otillo swimrun sprint- we have never done so much awesome ocean swimming before and it was fantastic! We went from island to island with Tresco Boats as well as with St. Mary's Boatmen's Association (asy, friendly and efficient) and we loved the sunset views from the fast boats and chatting with the locals! Among our favorite places to visit was the fabulous Tresco Abbey Gardens. We loved the stunning magazines developed by Wolf Rock that we perused in detail in advance.
We hope you too pick your favorite islands and go back again and again! â
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We are two adventurous young professionals who turned our passion for travel into a blog to help others travel more.