This week I have mostly been in the Isles of Scilly. Beautiful islands, but to me, quite remote. We had every type of weather; sun, rain and freezing, gale force winds. These islands are tiny but have so many amazing beaches with sand the texture of icing sugar. They can only be reached by a 2-3 hour boat ride (450 passengers, so it’s a big boat), which can be a big bucket of vomit on choppy crossings. Some people were telling us how the boat ran out of sick bags on Tuesday, which was the day we had gale force winds and squally rain. Locals were telling us that the boat often ran out of sick bags – which tells you how choppy the sea often is. Apparently, it was worse than normal due to high Spring tides.
We flew, which was much quicker than taking the boat; 20 mins out and just 15 back. Our outward journey from Land’s End was in a 19-seater plane which seemed very small, however our return journey was in an 8-seater plane, even smaller. It felt like two small cars welded end to end. This really isn’t a journey for those who don’t like flying or are claustrophobic. I was able to watch all the flight instruments as the pilot maneuvered us into the sky. If you’ve ever wondered what those switches are that the pilot flicks on once the plane is in the sky – you’ve seen it in films – I can tell you. They’re fuel pumps. That’s how close I was to the pilot, I could read the dials and I was sat a row back from him – we flew at 120 mph! Very cosy and quite scary.
The airports both at Land’s End and on St Mary’s Island (the biggest one) were great: minimal waiting, comfortable seating, great little café and best of all, stunning coastal views. If only all airports could be like these. Word of warning though, if you plan to fly there, go on a diet; they weigh you before you get on the plane.
We also visited, via tiny little boat, Tresco, St Agnes and Bryher islands. All stunning. And cute. Troy Town Farm makes ice cream from their ‘special’ cows. Everyone raves about it. I can confirm that it is amazing ice cream. Yummy.
One supermarket – a Co-op smaller than our Tesco Local – serves all the islands. It heaved with expectant shoppers every morning, stocking up on fresh bread and canned goods, which are apparently nearly as cheap as they are on the mainland. There’s also a trendy deli selling lots of fresh produce and designer salt, plus the usual gift shops and, inevitably, ‘island clothes’, ie sweatshirts, waterproof coats, strong boots. Cavorting about on the sea or climbing the hills – stunning views guaranteed – are the main pastimes.
There are many rocky outcrops and formations, even one called Queen Victoria – and is does look just like her from a certain angle. From out hotel window we could see a rock that looked like a pile of boulders rising out of the sea. I’ve never been to the Scillies before but if I had it could have been the inspiration for my Stonehaven series.
I’d thoroughly recommend if you want to escape and be with nature. But don’t go Bank Holiday weekend in early May, as we left 150 or so gigs (long rowing boats) were preparing for a weekend of racing.