VISIT THE ISLES OF SCILLY
PUBLISHED: 16:18 21 February 2017 | UPDATED: 12:16 30 August 2017
Fine white sands, deserted beaches, secret coastal paths and blue skies sitting above an endless shimmering azure ocean: welcome to the Isles of Scilly, the UK’s sub-tropical tip...
Packed with unique experiences, the Isles of Scilly’s calendar of events is just as inviting as its landscape and wildlife. Get a taste of guided walks, adventure sports, live music, comedy, food and drink events and creative courses, and you’ll soon be back for more!
The Isles of Scilly are like nowhere else in England. An uncrowded and unspoilt cluster of islands 28 miles off the coast of Cornwall, Scilly is known for its endless white sand beaches, crystal clear blue waters and exotic flora and fauna. Scilly is a world apart from everyday life. Flying in by small plane or arriving by sea, you know immediately that you’re somewhere very special. We guarantee an experience like no other.
The archipelago is fast becoming a centre for adventure sports. As well as being one of the most relaxed and friendly places in the UK, Scilly is also the perfect setting for adventure. The islands are now home to the annual World Pilot Gig Championships, the ÖTILLÖ Swimrun World Championship UK Qualifier, the Tresco Triathlon and the Scilly Swim Challenge, to name a few. There’s all this plus Scilly’s favourite marine pursuits, including stand up paddleboarding, coasteering, kayaking, scuba diving, kite surfing and wild swimming, all in spectacular surroundings.
We asked the Islands’ Tourism & Business Partnership (IP) to share some of this year’s key activities. The partnership is responsible for marketing the Isles of Scilly as a visitor destination and supports more than 300 member organisations to grow their individual businesses – and in turn helping Scilly’s tourism economy to develop to its full potential.
So here’s a few ideas for planning your trip to Scilly in 2017 - see you there!
Walk Scilly 2017 – 1 to 7 April
Visitors to the Isles of Scilly will once again be ambling, strolling, hiking and striding purposefully across the islands during Walk Scilly 2017. Now in its 11th year, the popular walking festival is a chance to explore the islands on foot.
Walk Scilly offers the very best way of exploring the islands’ spectacular scenery, wildlife and heritage, with seven days of themed walks led by expert guides.
New for this year is a rare visit to the tiny uninhabited island of Nornour led by local archaeologist Dr Katharine Sawyer, as part of a boat trip around the Eastern Isles with seabirder and photographer Joe Pender. Katharine will share stories of when the island was still inhabited during the Bronze and Iron Ages, the hut circles that were uncovered in the early-60s and the numerous Roman finds that were then unearthed, including more than 300 brooches from the first to third century, thought to be offerings of respect to a local cult.
There’s another chance to unearth the history of two more of Scilly’s uninhabited islands with Dr Sawyer and Chas Wood. Investigate prehistoric and post-medieval sites on Samson, uninhabited since the mid-1800s, and the two main archaeological sites on St Helen’s – the early mediaeval hermitage and 18th century Pest House, an isolation hospital for plague cases.
This year, you can also get spooked on an evening ghost walk around Hugh Town and the Star Castle hotel, built during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. The walk ends at the Dungeon Bar, where 400 years ago some of the most notorious prisoners in the country were incarcerated.
Hear about ocean pollution from Nikki Banfield of the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust and comb the beach for the latest culprit – nurdles (small plastic pellets used in their billions to make household products).
Foodies should take a tour with owner Tim Hicks of Troytown Farm, a family dairy farm on St Agnes that makes more than 30 flavours of ice cream from a small herd of Jersey cows that graze by the Atlantic. You can also walk to the iconic Daymark on St Martin’s and along the backbone of the island with Zoe Julian, the co-owner of Scilly Flowers. And join a sunset stroll on St Mary’s ending with drinks and canapes at Juliet’s Garden Restaurant and Bar.
The festival brings to life the tales and treasures of the islands, and it goes from strength to strength each year,’ says David Jackson, executive director of the Islands’ Partnership. I’m especially excited about all of the new walks we’re introducing, as well as the usual favourites, such as wildlife discovery tours, top-to-toe rambles across the five inhabited islands, and a Mediterranean stroll through Tresco Abbey Garden. A big thanks goes to the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust and all our local guides, many with family ties to Scilly that go back generations. We can’t wait!’
The festival’s evening programme will include a welcome party, gourmet dinners, slide shows and live music, including a candlelit performance by Duo Prospero, the islands’ own violin and woodwind duo, at Old Town Church.
To book a walk 01720 424036 visitislesofscilly.com/walkscilly
Daymark Festival 14 to 16 April
Visit the beautiful island of St. Martin’s for a three-day Easter extravaganza of live music from Scilly and beyond.
World Pilot Gig Championships 2017 28 April to 1 May
This is Scilly’s biggest weekend in the calendar! This is the event’s 28th year and it gets bigger every year, with crews attending from as far afield as the Netherlands, Bermuda and the USA.
Isles of Scilly Folk Festival
25 to 30 May
A long weekend of music, song and dance featuring some of the best folk music from Scilly and the South West.
27 May and 25 June
Walking between the islands of Tresco and Bryher on an extreme spring tide is something every Scillyphile should experience. Do it on these two dates and you can catch a seafood feast and fizz event in the channel halfway across, with a pop-up restaurant and bar, live music, stalls and games including croquet and boules. You can try your hand at digging for razor clams, too.
Scilly Laughs 10 to 13 June
Back for a third year, this four-day comedy festival moves to a different island each day.
Tresco Triathlon 11 June
An annual charity event taking competitors on a 0.3-mile swim, 3-mile run and 12-mile
cycle ride across the island of Tresco.
ÖTILLÖ Swimrun World Championship UK Qualifier
17 to 18 June
ÖTILLÖ means island-to-island in Swedish, and Scilly is hosting this qualifier for the second time, with more than 150 pairs from dozens of countries chasing eight spots in the swimrun world championship. It’s a true test of endurance for the pairs, who will tackle a course of nearly 40 kilometres in length, alternating between running and open water swimming.
Taste of Scilly
1 to 30 September
Visitors to the second Taste of Scilly festival will sample an array of fresh culinary experiences during a month-long celebration of food and drink from across the archipelago. Savour the flavours of the islands and join in with a melting pot of distinctive foodie encounters as local bakers, brewers, growers, fishermen, foragers and chefs come together to share their stories, passions and creativity.
Scilly Swim Challenge
2 to 6 September
Swim and walk your way across the islands in one or two days at this year’s Scilly Swim Challenge.
Walk Scilly Weekend
12 to 16 October
The nights might be drawing in, but autumn’s the perfect time to explore the wilder side of the Isles of Scilly at Walk Scilly Weekend. It’s a chance to experience the islands at their most magical and discover their wild beauty on a long weekend of themed, guided walks with experts who live and breathe Scilly. w
For more details and a full listing of events, head to
How to get there?
Whether you soar into the skies to soak up stunning views from your Skybus plane or sail to the islands on the Scillonian ferry spotting wildlife along the way, getting to the Isles of Scilly is all part of the adventure.
You can fly with Isles of Scilly Travel from Exeter, Newquay and Land’s End Airports and enjoy breathtaking aerial views of this beautiful cluster of islands from the comfort of your Skybus plane.
Flights from Land’s End take just 15 minutes and half an hour from Newquay, and operate all year round from Monday to Saturday. There are scheduled flights from Exeter Airport between March and October six days a week which reach Scilly in under an hour.
Or you can opt to travel by boat and head to Penzance harbour to board the Scillonian III passenger ferry, which sails to St. Mary’s up to seven days a week from spring to late autumn, with a journey time of around three hours. Sailing around the Cornish coastline offers wonderful views from the deck, and the Scillonian is also a great way to spot sea-life, with the ferry regularly escorted by pods of dolphins.
Can’t decide? Do both! The Fly+Sail option is a great way to experience both the plane and boat journeys.
For more information, visit or phone 01736 334220