It takes less than twenty minutes to hop across from Land’s End to St Mary’s Island in Scilly. This trip was planned back in the autumn when Carolyn confessed to never having visited the Isle of Scilly and that this was a destination on her bucket list. And so it was that the Derricks and we agreed a five-day slot into which we squeeze as much island discovery as possible.
Our friends picked us up from Winterborne K on Sunday morning and we drove to a small restaurant in Okehampton to break our journey and have some lunch. Onwards to Penzance and the hotel that Nick and I have stayed at before. We enjoyed a pleasant stay, with a good dinner, comfortable room and hearty breakfast. Carolyn drove us to Land’s End airport where I spotted a former geological colleague from Royal Holloway College, John Mather and Jenny. They will be staying at the New Inn too. We boarded our flight. I have not flown in such a small aircraft before, one in which the cockpit is open and enables the passengers to watch the pilots at work. I felt safer in this little ‘plane, flying at a height at which you do not feel you have lost touch with land. I had great views of the Cornish mainland as we left the coast, and of the Longships group of islands with its lighthouse, just over 1 mile offshore. These rocky islets, together with the Seven Stones Reef and our destination, the Isles of Scilly which are approximately 28 miles southwest — are part of the mythical lost land of Lyonesse, referred to in Arthurian literature.
Landing on St Mary’s was a hairy moment, not for any reasons of risk or safety, but because the little ‘plane is able to take off and land over a relatively short distance and as we approached the runway a substantial rock outcrop rose to greet us through the little window and as we sped past it, the wheels bumped gently onto the tarmac and we had arrived.
We were taxied to the port where we boarded a boat which delivered us to Tresco. A wagon ride to the New Inn…….. and we had arrived. The Inn is largely unchanged since we were last on Tresco, the atmosphere is at once lively (one has the bar and restaurant staff to thank for that) and calm and restful too.
During the afternoon we walked north from the Inn along the coastal path which takes us past Cromwell’s and King Charles’ Castles, then you clamber up track and over to the east side by Piper’s Hole. You can follow the path round Gimble Porth and over the Point to reach the Island Hotel complex. We meet up with John and Jenny Mather along the way. Pressing on towards Old Grimsby you pass houses with gardens containing flowers just a bit too tender to find on the mainland and the Echiums are in full and glorious flower. Turning inland our way takes us past the school and the church, to eventually drop us onto the lane which leads down to the Inn.
Before supper we settle at a table in the bar and play a game of Barbu. We are so absorbed by our game, and have not mastered the house drill for ordering food at the bar, such that we risk missing the boat for our evening meal.
When we go to bed we have chosen our destination for the morrow and will be picking a boat up at New Grimsby to take us to St Agnes and Gugh.