Isles of Scilly
28th August – 1st September 2007
49° 55’ north, 6°19’ west
The Isles of Scilly is a group of 5 inhabited islands and numerous other small rocky islets some 28 miles off Lands End – the most South Westerly point of the British Isles.
When Kevin and Gill Robinson (who we have got to know via several sea kayaing gatherings over the last couple of years) contacted me and gave me to the opportunity of going there straight after the Cornish Sea Rally this year, I took it with both hands, and boy, am I glad I did!
What I found was a beautiful place for sea kayaking, with the islands offering enough shelter to enable one to choose whether to paddle in calm or slightly rougher conditions. I had heard of the miles of white sandy beaches, but seeing them and the clear turquoise sea around them was quite something else. Although we were still in the school holidays, one had the feeling of endless space on the islands, and certainly not one of being crowded in.
The evening before we were due to leave, we had tickets to go and see The Scarlet Pimpernel at the Minack Theatre near Penzance,(great evening – thanks to Richard Uren for organising that!) so we did not have enough time to have a “practice run” at packing boats.
So I made sure I only took the essentials with me, and left some things behind. The boats had to go empty, so I did not get chance before we left to check it would all fit in, but I felt fairly confident!
We arrived at St Mary’s by the ferry on Tuesday afternoon, and rescued our bags and boats, and moved down into the small harbour area to start packing our boats. It was then I realised that I had far too much stuff! Eventually, after much squeezing and pushing, it all went in, but I had to carry my bag on my back deck as there was just not enough room.
We paddled out to St Agnes, where we set up camp. The campsites we were using were proper sites, and we were all looking forward to having a shower after a long weekend in Cornwall without one!! What a view!
The first full day there, and we planned to paddle out to Bishops Rock Lighthouse, officially the smallest island in the World, according to Google Earth!
It was a great paddle, even with being warned to keep away by some noisy seals!!
When we got to the lighthouse, it was just staggering as to how big it is, and the difficulties that must have been experienced in building this structure – the rock it is on is not much bigger than the circumference of the lighthouse itself.
Kevin met a lovely lass called Agnes – well, OK, he spend ages on a hot lunch break making her, much to our amusement, and I think he was quite upset at having to leave her to the mercy of the sea when we left!
We came across a little cottage with a bucket of crabs outside for sale.
Ron and Ben could not resist them – boys!! Anyway, they made their purchases and had crab for tea that night!
As you can see the weather was awful!
We spent a wonderful couple of days on St Agnes before making tracks over to St Martins, again to a campsite with proper showers – we were really being spoilt!
This time we did not have to worry about carrying our boats over rocks and grassy slopes – this has to be the best boat park in the whole world.
With our campsite just over the other side of the sand dune, it could not have been better placed.
Again, we spent a couple of days here with some fantastic paddles, exploring the Eastern Isles, and a circumnavigation of St Martins. This circumnavigation had the best lunch stop ever – Kevin and Dave disappeared over the hill, and came back with hot coffee, pasties, and all sorts of goodies – how come we never find places like that on the north coast of Devon??
We had a brilliant evening meal booked at the fish and chip “restaurant” – not sure really what to call it – it was like a converted conservatory/lean-to outside a remote (a good 25 minute walk down paths you would not believe!) farmhouse.
There was no menu – it was fish of the day and chips from local potatoes, and I must say I think it was the best fish and chips I have ever had! Well done to Kevin for having the forethought to book this.
Of course, our time seemed to be over before it had started, and we were back at St Mary’s watching our boats being loaded onto the ferry.
At this point, I was really glad I had a plastic boat – the others in the group were groaning at the sight of their glass fibre boats swinging in the air off the end of a crane!
Finally, we reached Penzance, and time to go home.
A fabulous trip, a fabulous time! Count me in if the chance arises again!
Below are some more pictures taken during the week. Allow your mouse to hover over a picture to get some information about the image, then click for a larger view!
My sincere thanks to go Kevin and Gill Robinson for organising this trip, and making it all happen – without their enthusiasm and planning, it probably would not have happened. They organised it extremely well, and it was a real pleasure to be able to take part in it – many thanks to both of you!!!