Travel: Scilly island hopping, UK


The one where I went island hopping and kept a Scilly diary…


11am. Newquay airport. Can smell sea and already feels like holidays. Arrived along gorse-lined roads past beach after golden beach and blue sky. Sun shining. Airport is small and cute. No double decker car parks, just small trek with bags to mini check in. One café, one £5 airport tax, one set of loos. Stress free.

Soon at gate, awaiting flight to Scilly’s biggest island St Mary’s. All 12 passengers summoned to watch in-flight safety message on telly because no room on tiny plane. Plus One, classic nervous flyer, goes grey and gets tad twitchy.

Soon boarding and after the two pilots (who I know well as my legs are in cockpit) let go of  elastic band (joke, perfectly good propellers) and we are soon mid-air. Soon sweeping across sea toward tiny airstrip at St Marys. Airport tenth of the size of Newquay and even cuter, which means bonus three seconds from plane across runway to taxi. Soon whizzing through refreshingly traffic-free roads to dock for boat transfer to island of Tresco. Cheerful taxi driver from Paulger Transport gives running commentary of journey. Highlights include Harold Wilson’s bungalow where his widow spends summers. Soon in tiny Hugh Town, Scilly’s booming metropolis, and deposited on docks where the Firethorn of Bryher just gliding in over glistening blue water.

4pm. We are here! After alighting at tiny dock were transported on ingenious passenger truck attached to back of tractor through idyllic little lanes until reached Island Hotel. Set on golden beaches and rocky outcrops, is more like Caribbean than England. Even Palm Trees.

Our suite is called Cromwell’s Castle and looks straight over Atlantic to New York (can’t actually see it though) Is large, gloriously colourful and comfortable room with beautiful patio facing sea. Drink champagne, feel balmy air and listen to birds chirping in non-British happy way. Barbados eat your heart out.


8am. Island Hotel. Awake in huge soft bed before breakfasting with Plus One. Still full from excellent three course meal night before but still manage full English and Pain Au Chocolate. (God loves a tryer.) Admire jaw-dropping panoramic views from restaurant we couldn’t see out of in dark last night.

10am. Fuel on board,  embark on intrepid trek round island, managing to take in two castles (King Charles and Cromwell’s) and numerous idyllic sea views/beaches before lunch. And no need for coat, despite being September. Bliss.

12noon. Lunch is at Flying Boat Club, series of New England style houses on the fine sandy beach with accompanying bar, pool, restaurant etc) Has distinctively exclusive feel, though food is simple and accessible and restaurant shaped like ship. After lunch trot back to hotel via third castle of day (Old Blockhouse) before might three course dinner number two. Can’t complain.


9am. Island Hotel. After brekkie we transfer to next hotel. Hell Bay. Only problem, is on other island (Bryher) so involves two tractors and boat. Actually proves stress-free, much preferable to M6. Driver picks us up and drives us length of beach and along sandy track to Hell Bay hotel.

1pm. Less Hell, more heaven. Plus One observes that know hotel room can’t be that bad when exact one featured on front cover of brochure advertising posh hotels across UK. Agree. Room is lovely in New England style but can’t take eyes off incredible view off balcony. Rocky shorelines, azure seas and blue skies. Rugged but beautiful..

Decide to explore some more and venture back on boat for cruise round islands to spot seals and seabirds. Stunning. Quick stop off at St Agnes where enjoy glass of wine outside tiny shoreside Turks head pub in glorious sunshine. Birds so tame they will jump on your hand for crumbs. Surely can’t be England.

Champagne before dinner (v.g) Then bed.


Sad as leaving today but still manage full breakfast in style of greedy pig. Pack bags and transfer to beach where await boat on golden sands. Last chance to admire sea views as chug back to St Marys and Hugh Town. As wait for taxi have chance to explore town and eat ice-cream in baking sunshine on busy dock. Need suncream. In late September! Watch comings and goings include Island Parish TV crew and huge Scillonian ferry arrive from mainland.

1pm. Back on plane, very sad to be leaving and back to real world. Think maybe more people should venture to Scilly. It’s plane sailing.

Scilly sidebar

The Isles of Scilly comprise 150 islands which together make up one of the world’s biggest archipelagos. Around 2,000 people live on the five inhabited islands – St. Mary’s, Tresco, St. Martin’s, St. Agnes, and Bryher. On the largest, St. Mary’s, is the capital Hugh Town. The islands are off SW England, 28 miles from Lands End in Cornwall. The mild climate and heavy rainfall created a flourishing atmosphere for subtropical plants and make flower and vegetable production vital to the islands’ economy as well as tourism. The islands wildlife, best spotted by boat, includes puffins, Atlantic seals and hundreds of varieties of sea birds.

Scilly factfile

Nicola travelled by Skybus from Newquay airport to St Marys. Flights operate from Southampton and Bristol during the main season (March to September) and all year round from Exeter, Newquay and Land’s End airports.

The Scillonian III ferry sets sail daily from Penzance quay from March 30 to October 31.

For more information or to book a trip contact Isles of Scilly travel on 0845 7105555 or

Nicola stayed at the Island Hotel, Tresco. For more information call 01720 422883 or e-mail or look up

She also stayed at Hell Bay on Bryher, telephone 01720 422947 or e-mail or look up

For details of the Flying Boat Club call 01720 422849, e-mail or look up

Further information about what to do, see and where to stay can be obtained from the Tourist Information Centre on the Isles of Scilly on 01720 424031 or at