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About the county of Isles of ScillyIn the land of make believe a legend exists, telling us the Scilly Islands are all that is left of Lyonnesse, a beautiful fabled land of which Arthur was King. The land is said to have vanished beneath the wild Atlantic sea. Romantic, but then these islands are. They are summer playgrounds for hordes of visitors but when the holiday makers have gone, the islands revert to become once more a landscape of almost isolated white sandy beaches where the islanders live blessedly close to the land and the drama of the sea.
The Scilly Isles are a scattering of islands lying south-west of Lands End. Of around 100 islands, islets and rocky outcrops, only a handful are inhabited. They have been a tourist destination for decades but now, with a helicopter service operational from Lands End and a boat sailing regularly from Penzance, the islands are becoming increasingly attractive to today's tourists.
In the annals of history the Scilly Islands have always been an important trading post in western England. For over three hundred years, seaweed formed an important part of the islands economy. It was hauled from the sea and shipped to Europe where it was sold for a variety of uses, including glass making in Venice.
The islands are home to a rich variety of wildlife, especially the outer uninhabited islands which have been taken over as breeding grounds and resting places for many migrating birds from America. The islands have a Wildlife Trust which exists to ensure good management and the preservation of all parts of the islands wealth of flora and fauna. Delicate and Exotic plants flourish in a warmth that comes earlier than in any other part of England, and in the shallow surrounding seas, grow coral, sea anemones and sponges. It is not unusual to see basking seals, for the seas around the Scillies are home to a wide number of creatures including dolphins.
Collectively, these Islands form a sub-tropical paradise in the furthermost south westerly corner of England. Between them they share a history, but of the main islands has its own character and charm. St. Mary's is the largest of the islands and is where the ferry lands from the mainland. Hugh Town, the islands 'capital' is here, it developed under the protection of Star Castle, an eight pointed fortress built in the 16th-century, and now a comfortable hotel. Those wishing to explore the island away from its golden beaches will find a hinterland of woodlands, heaths and wetlands where you can follow waymarked walks or roam as you wish. One of the most enchanting features of beautiful Old Town Bay is the ancient church were services are still held in the glow of candle light. Old Town Bay has a lovely sheltered beach, and the village has a pub, shop and cafes.
Tresco has magnificent beaches and the beautiful Tresco Abbey Gardens, a blissful paradise of exotic plants brought from all parts of the world. Here amongst the Palms and Yucca's you will find little pools where you can enjoy watching the antics of Dunlins, Plovers and Ducks. In autumn these pools become a stopping point for hundreds of migratory birds. In the Shipwreck Museum you can see relics and memorabilia of old sea craft including ancient ship figureheads and cannons. The helicopter link with Penzance operates from here.
Bryher is a picture of perfection with a shoreline battered into weird shapes by the might of the Atlantic. This little island, with its pretty sheltered beach overlooking Tresco, and tranquil Rushy Bay, is the smallest of the island communities. In spring, the mild climate brings forth a profusion of daffodils and narcissi, and in autumn, just as with the other islands, Bryher becomes a resting place for migratory birds. There are two quays, one built by Anneka Rice for a well known BBC television programme. This is a lovely island where the visitor can enjoy a restful sojourn.
St. Martin's is the third biggest island in Scilly with several beautiful beaches within easy reach of the quay where you can usually see lobster pots being hauled from fishing craft. This place wears a lovely holiday atmosphere, there are opportunities for water-sports, and for those who enjoy looking around there are pleasant little shops and art galleries. Wine buffs are offered a guided tour and a tasting of the luscious wines produced at St.Martin's Vineyard.
St.Agnes has a patchwork of tiny fields full of beautiful flowers sheltered by high hedges and whose gentle scent attracts butterflies and moths. For generations the community here have largely depended on flower farming and fishing for their livelihood and perhaps it was to guide the fishing boats home that St.Agnes lighthouse was built in 1680. This is a peaceful place, where you can enjoy lovely walks, often savouring complete silence save for the cry of spectacular sea birds. There is a picturesque quay with the most south-westerly pub in England, beautiful sandy coves and dramatic outcrops.
These islands are becoming increasingly popular with the yachting and sailing fraternity who are fast discovering the Scillies have crystal clear waters, more lovely and less crowded than other, established destinations. The islands are a most beautiful summer place where you get a marvellous feeling of light and space. However, as the islanders will tell you, in the winter months bad weather can often interrupt island life. A notable example was when the ferry bringing fireworks for bonfire celebrations failed to return because of a storm. On this occasion the traditional bonfire party was deferred until November 25th! However, the little inconveniences are more than compensated by a the rare peace and solitude of this blessedly beautiful place.
See our recommended Isles of Scilly towns and villages below, along with our listed Isles of Scilly attractions, and Isles of Scilly hotels and holiday cottages.
Recommended towns & villages to visit in Isles of Scilly
Tresco is the second largest island of the Isles of Scilly..All Isles of Scilly towns & villagesHistoric Market TownsPicturesque VillagesHistoric CitiesAll towns in England
Recommended attractions in Isles of ScillyAll Isles of Scilly AttractionsCastles in Isles of ScillyIsles of Scilly Beauty SpotsAll England Attractions
Random England fact:
Manningtree in Essex is England's smallest town.
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