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Isles of Scilly- silly to be missed
Isles of Scilly in General
Member Name: Tonyc7
Isles of Scilly in General
Advantages: Low crime, clean Air, Peaceful and Beautiful scenery
Out of the 100 or so tiny islands, only 5 of these are inhabited, with St Mary's being the largest and main Island.
The name "Scilly" is thought to come from the Viking word "Syllorgar" and the Romans "Sully" meaning sun Islands (the 'C' added in the 16th Century).
*****************************St Mary's ***********************
St Mary's is the largest (at 2 1/2 miles by 1 3/4) and main Island that people stay on for their holiday, and has the most hotels, guest houses and self catering accomadation available.
There is also a large campsite positioned up on the Garrison, which is not far to walk down into the town centre and is relatively cheap at £5-£6 per person per night.
There are 6 hotels to choose from,
the Star Castle at £45-£105, (up on the Garrison)
St Mary's hall hotel at £68-£98,(town centre)
Tregarthen's hotel at £72-97,(town centre)
Bell Rock hotel at £47-£77,(town centre)
Harbourside hotel at £52.50-£65,(on the Quay)
Atlantic hotel at £75-£95.(town centre)
It has a further 40 B&B's from £22.50-£45 a night
12 B&B's half board at £29.50-£63,
and over 117 self catering flats and cottages to choose from.
These range in price from £150-£870 per week, so can be expensive.
There are plenty of places to eat out, with 20 cafes,restaurants, hotels, tea gardens and a fish and chip shop van.
For an excellent meal with a bit of class I would recommend the Pilot's gig restaurant located behind the chemist with the entrance opposite the Mermaid Inn pub. Here you can taste the delights of the sea, caught that morning and very locally, including Shark, Halibut, Swordfish, Lobster, Crab and Mussels.
All the 5 pubs on the Island also do excellent meals at very average prices, these are the Atlantic hotel, Bishop and Wolf, Old Town Inn, Porthcressa Inn and the Mermaid.
My favourite pub is the Mermaid Inn, which is more for the younger person, they have live music on occasions, excellent restaurant, pool table and a cosy fire for when its a bit stormy outside.
The town centre called Hugh Town offers 2 banks with one hole-in-the-wall style cashpoint, a Post Office, Chemist, A Co-Op supermarket, a Film processors for all your holiday snaps (now has Digital flashcard processing), several gift shops, one or two clothes stores selling local made items, a newsagents, wholesale store, 2 bakeries which sell the biggest cornish pasties you have ever seen and a butchers/fishmonger, Laundry and Bike hire Shop.
There is a Doctors Surgery, Main Hospital, Dentist, Police station, Voluntary run Fire service and the Island has its own R.N.L.I. Lifeboat again manned by volunteers and Medic launch for between Islands, and two schools and three churches.
The police here must have the best job in Britain, with virtualy no crime to speak of, a part from the odd local getting drunk one night in 4 months or so, it has to be the best place in Britain for raising a family in a safe environment.
St Mary's is reached by Air or sea, boasting its own Airport, where planes from Lands End on the Skybus fly in every so often costing, no flights Sunday.
The Helicopter costs, no flights Sunday. Flying from Penzance.
£132 normal return,
£91 day return,
£108 mid week saver,
£108 for senior citizens.
The Scillonian 111 from Penzance costs, No sailings Sunday.
Things to do and see.
There are plenty of things to while away the hours,such as walking and enjoying the fresh sea air on the many footpaths and trails around the Island,
cycling around the quiet 9 1/2 miles of roads (there are cars on the island but short in numbers as cars are not permitted to be brought over by visitors) is a safe and easy way of getting around, although St Mary's is not a flat Island and can be very steep in places, easier going downhill.
There are also Horse riding facilities and a mini bus coach tour which leaves the town centre at scheduled times of the day. Hire a boat and go Sea Fishing catch your tea. Or play a round of Golf on the 9 hole course.
For those of you a bit more adventurous, there are boats for hire, Kayaks, wind surfing, snorkelling (excellent for seeing the local Grey Seals at close quarters and the abundance of marine wildlife that are hidden away beneath the sea, also a chance to see some of the many wrecks that lie around the Islands) and sightseeing chartered cruises around the Islands.
There is also the other Islands to visit by the daily sailing boats, the first depart St Mary's quay at 10.00am, 12.00. and 14.00 (2.00), but these need to be checked for sailing availability due to the weather, it can be choppy between some of the Islands even in fairly light winds.
Pay a visit to the Star Castle now a hotel, built in the 16th century to keep the Spanish Armarda at bay. It is situated on one of the highest parts of the Island with excellent views all round, the gate way holds the dungeons and the whole area has a huge granite wall (3-4ft thick) with cannon emplacements all round.
There are several ancient burial mounds some of which can be entered,dating back to the Bronze age and also memorials and grave sites of people who have been shipwrecked and lost their lives here.
The most famous of which is Sir Cloudesley Shovell, a captain of the HMS Association, which sank off the western rocks in 1707 with massive loss of lives, and is still the largest maritime disaster in British Navel history, his stone lies on Porthellick Beach.
Many Ships have come to grief around the treachorous rocks, and some still do to this day, despite modern day technology and an automatic series of lighthouses, there are plenty of books to buy and read on the subject.
On wet and windy days, there is always a chance to pop into the museum, this has a wealth of treasure, artefacts and a fine collection of stuffed birds that have been shot in earlier times on the Islands, an interesting place to visit.
Among other things to visit are the many art galleries, with local artists spoiled for choice in the things to paint and handcraft.
most of which can be bought for a lasting momento.
A walk through Old Town cemetary to visit the last resting place of ex-prime minister Sir Harold Wilson who had a holiday cottage here and spent many summers away from the hustle and bustle of big city life.
Tresco is the second largest of the Islands with a small population of about 150, there are 2 hotels,
the Island Hotel (£117-£283)
and the New Inn (£75-£115)
Self catering there are 3 places to choose from,
prices start from £250-£900 per week.
There are also time share cottages available here.
It is catered by a Sub-Post Office and general store and one pub, the New Inn which does meals.
It has its own link to the mainland via a Helicopter service, which runs from Penzance.
Prices start from £91 day return.
£132 Normal Return.
£108 Senior Citizens Return.
or via St Mary's from the Airport or Scillionian 111 by boat.
Things To Do and See.
Tresco is like entering a tropical paradise, with its range of tropical trees and flowers from all over the world, mainly South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.
Travellers from all over the world were encouraged to bring back with them tropical seeds and plants, such as New Zealand Tree Ferns, Eucalyptus from Australia, palm trees from the caribbean.
In 1830's a banker called Augustus Smith bought the Islands and created the Abbey and gardens surrounding it, which must be seen on your visit here, it is like nowhere else you have ever been, some plants that only flower once every 30 years or so and some look like they would be better off in a sci-fi, very strange indeed.
There are two Ancient castles that once belonged to Oliver Cromwell and King Charles to visit.
Tresco has two main pools, one the Great Pool which is about a 1/2 mile long and the other is the Abbey Pool, both fresh water lakes.
This is the 3rd largest of the Islands and has only one hotel, called St Martin's on the Isle.
Prices range from £50-£169 per night.
There are just 8 self catering cottages here, prices from,
£250-£1400 per week.
A Campsite has the cheapest option from, £5.50-£7 a night.
Things To Do and See
There is a pub, Sub-Post Office and several shops and Tea rooms for the visitor.
Here you can go snorkelling, water sports and go on boat trips to the other Islands like the Eastern Isles where the Atlantic Grey Seals and Puffins breed, or tour the vineyard and sample the wine.
You can also just relax on one the most beautiful beaches in Britain, with white sands and craggy rock pools for the kids.
Bryher is located next to Tresco and is reached by a boat from St Mary's, sometimes via Tresco.
It has a small population of about 75 and is one of the most peaceful places to visit or stay.
To the west at Hell Bay, the Atlantic storms lash the coastline with huge waves that leave you awe inspired once seen.
The claim to fame here is the quay was built by the programme Challenge Anneka, and Anneka Rice and the locals, which did a very good job.
Accommodation is provided by the one hotel on the Island, Hell Bay Hotel, which costs £100-£200 per night.
There are 7 self catering cottages to rent starting from,
£150-£940 per week.
Also 2 Half board B&B style accommodation,
£25-£60 per night.
Again there is a cheaper alternative in the campsite, which is only £4.75-£6.50 a night.
There is a cafe, restaurant, Sub-Post Office a shop and a public bar in the hotel.
There is not much else to do on the Island but enjoy the beauty, and quiet surroundings.
St Agnes has the most South-Westerly community in the British Isles, and probably the oldest Lighthouse which was built in 1680.
It is joined by a smaller Island called Gugh (pronounced Goo), which gets cut off at high tide.
There are a short number of places to stay including, 3 self catering cottages, prices from £225-£495 per week.
and 1 B&B half board at £28-£49 per night.
The campsite charges £450-£700 per night.
There is a Sub-Post Office, 2 cafes and the last pub in South-West Britain, called the Turk's Head, a tiny pub that offers a warm welcome, T-shirts and mugs with the pubs name on with facts on can be bought.
Great views of the Bishop rock lighthouse can be seen from here, standing on a tiny rock in the Atlantic, with waves that can reach the top in very stormy conditions.
As on most of the Islands, there are shops selling the main produce of the Islands, Flower Bulbs.
These are the tiny and very varied Dwarf Daffodils or Narcissi, something that you must buy for your own garden.
The fields all over the Islands mass produce these flowers and bulbs for sale to Europe, and can be grown all year round due to the frost free climate, it very rarely snows here, as the Islands are constantly warmed by the warm waters of the Gulf Stream.
The main reason I personally go here is for the birds, in the Autumn in particular, from September to early November, rare and exciting birds turn up on these Islands from all over the world.
Tiny leaf Warblers from Asia turn up on winds blowing from the South-East, like Yellow-browed Warblers, Dusky, Radde's, Arctic, Greenish, Bonelli's and Pallas's.
Siberian vagrants like, Siberian Thrush, White's and Eye-browed Thrushes, Pine, Yellow-browed, Rustic and Little Buntings.
A massive list of rare and scarce birds from Europe come in on Southerlies for instance, Britains first and only Short-toed Eagle, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Red-rumped Swallow, Alpine Swift, Blue Rock Thrush, Orphean Warbler, and many, many more.
But it is the American birds that turn up here that the Islands are famous for in the birdwatchers mind, here the Atlantic storms have plucked migrating birds from the eastern seaboard of Canada and North America, and deposited them, some totally exhausted, onto Scilly.
When the weather has cleared and the South-Westerly winds have eased, birds such as, Yellow-billed and Black-billed Cukoos, Cliff Swallow, Common Nighthawk, Gray-cheeked, Swainson's, Hermit and Wood thrushes, Black& White, Blackpoll, Parula, Yellow-rumped and Magnolia Warblers, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, Upland Sandpiper, Bobolink, Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Northern Oriole.
There are too many to list, in all a total of 415 bird species have been recorded, a large number of these have been seen only on the Isles of Scilly, and no where else in Britain.
You can sit on a headland and watch over the sea for hours on end, sometimes catching a school of Dolphins as they pass by, such as Common, Bottle-nosed and Rhisso's Dolphins.
I have been out on a small boat and watched these swimming under the boat and leaping out in front of us their clicks and squeaks audible in the water.
I have visited here every year since 1991 and have my place booked for October this year and can't wait to be back.
It is a lovely place to be whatever your interests are, and makes an ideal family holiday without the hustle and bustle holidays can bring, this is certainly a stress free zone, leave your worries behind and just relax and enjoy.
Summary: A lovely place to take the family, for a peaceful holiday