Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Let's Be Scilly

Well that was an adventure. We decided to go abroad. We had often been to Cornwall, but never taken that final leap across to the Scilly Isles. Today was the day.

We set off early and drove across, via Helston and Penzance to the Land’s End airport where we were booked on a 15 minute flight across to St Mary’s. Despite the empty terminal, we had to check in an hour early. We were weighed along with whatever we were carrying. This was, clearly, going to be a small plane where the balance was important.

Indeed it was. It was a Britten-Norman Islander (one of the newer ones, not the old Trislander, three engined model). Sure enough, the plane was packed, with 6 of us and the pilot on board. Seats had been allocated based on balance-weight.

The short hop was very noisy, but smooth., reach the dizzying height of 1500 feet and a top airspeed of 130kts. We were soon in St Mary’s and on the shuttle bus to the harbour.

Timing things to perfection we boarded the ferry to Tresco just as it was about to leave. Again, we had a remarkably smooth crossing and again the fifteen minute journey deposited us on the southernmost tip of the Island.

We walked along the well paved path to the visitors’ centre and entrance to the Abbey Gardens. These gardens a, rightly, famous. Bathed in the warm waters of the gulf stream and well sheltered, they are a little paradise. One assumes, on arrival, that the gardens have been developed and tended since monastic times. This is not the case. They were only started in the mid 1800s’and have developed since then in the grounds of what was once St Nicholas’ Abbey - now a mere ruin comprising a couple arches and parts of a wall. The imposing building that you might assume to be the abbey is in fact a private dwelling dating from the 1800s, but built to give at least the illusion of a large abbey.

We wandered round for several hours taking lots of photos. The planting and the views were wonderful, and the gardens were not busy. (Indeed the Gorse Fox heard the boatman say later that there were on 160 people on the Island today).

As we wound on down the road, and we listened very hard, there was a rustle in the hedgerow. We weren’t alarmed though,  it was just a spring clean by the wildlife. As we searched for the bright light (that might turn to gold) we saw a beautiful red squirrel. He seemed as amused by us, as we were by him, and whilst he scampered up a tree, the Gorse Fox was able to get a few interesting photos.

Back at the visitors’ centre we stopped for some lunch. This, of course meant another pasty and a cup of tea.

As we munched on our lunch another squirrel approached a sat first on the chair along from the Gorse Fox then on the table. His inquisitiveness was supplemented by several small birds who decided to try and scavenge some crumbs.

It really was quite delightful - and, again, an opportunity for some further photos.

Leaving the gardens we walked across the well-made path to Pentle Bay on the eastern side of the island and down onto the white sandy beach. We wandered back in the general direction of the quay, but having an hour or so to kill, found a sheltered spot and sat watched the world go by.

Eventually it was time to head back for the ferry. Clearly we were not the only passengers. In fact, our ferry took 71 passengers and another queued up behind to pick up the remains 20 or so. The trip was quick and calm and we were soon back in St Mary’s where we stopped for a tea before strolling round the town and then grabbing the shuttle back to the airport.

Again the flight was quick - this time on a Twin Otter. Back at Land’s End we returned to the car and an hour later were standing at Rick Stein’s Fish and Chip shop getting some supper.

A perfect day.

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