The Isles of Scilly 31 May – 5 June
The most surprising fact about our visit to the Scillies was that out of the sixteen or so in the group (including our leader) none of us had been there before. Like many, we had all been saving this experience for the right moment.
From the airport it was a five-minute transfer to the centre of St Mary’s to our harbour-front hotel. When we settled in, we wandered down to the lounge for a welcome drink, and could see little waders which we decided were turnstones visible just outside the window.
Turnstones camouflaged with the stones
We had not only a leader, but a local guide too. Chas, the guide, knew a great deal about the Scillies and was keen to share his knowledge of history, geology, architecture and a bit of local gossip too.
Chas imparts some local knowledge with us
Declan, our leader, sorted out the quite gentle, but very beautiful walks on the various islands that we visited. Surprisingly to us, who knew nothing of this special place, the islands were really close together, so the transfer times by boat were always less than 40 minutes.
The beaches were spectacular and the flowers even more so. Even I could recognise an echium by the end of the week (well, they were about two metres high and bright blue, so not too difficult a task!).
The highlight of the week? Probably most would say the visit to the gardens on Tresco, where so many exotic plants grow quite happily in this island group thrust into the Atlantic and the Gulf Stream, but I liked the deserted flower fields where crops for the mainland market used to grow.
Now with competition from abroad, many of these fields are abandoned and revert to a wonderful mixture of wild and semi cultivated flowers. The colours of these fields need to be seen to be appreciated; photographs do not do them justice. You need to be there!