Silence is creeping closer, the gentle lapping of the sea a beautiful opaque turquoise blue warmed by the sun splashes elegantly over pale golden white sand, tiny pink and ivory cowrie shells and pebbles that pattern in zig zigzags the tideline. Sea pinks on rocks shake in a slight breeze, and a tern skims over head and disappears.
The modern hustle and bustle of life is on hold and I am yet again on an island, St Martins in-fact. St Martins is one of 200 Islands, Islets and rocks that form the Isles of Scilly situated on the Atlantic Ocean, roughly 28 miles from the tip of Cornwall, England and forty miles from Penzance Harbour. Six of the Islands are inhabited Bryher, Tresco, St Marys, St Agnes, St Martins and Gugh.
The Isles of Scilly has a mystical often sub-tropical allure, Tresco Island especially is well known for its sub-tropical Tresco Abbey gardens and is home to over 20,000 plants that flourish in paradise, it's unbelievable that such a place exists in the British Isles.
There is an incredible history to the Islands which are thought to have first been visited at the end of the last Ice age 10,000 years ago, the first settlers are believed to have been from the Bronze Age. Reflections of the past are scattered on all the Islands from Bronze Age grave entrance caves and Roman alters to Medieval castles and exist almost frozen in time endowed in wildlife. On every visit here it feels as though all of it has been discovered afresh, it never gets boring.
St Martins is the third largest Island and my personal favourite, yellow gorse, purple flowering heather and an array of different colours pattern moorland. The beaches are some of the best I've seen completely unspoilt, uncrowded with pale gold sand, and the calmest of seas, fish can be seen in vivid detail swimming past from the harbour. It is also home of the Isles of Scilly diving school should you be tempted to discover more closely the lavish sea-life.
I have helped my friend an islander empty lobster pots further out to sea on a couple of occasions, so if you don’t want to watch the sea-life, I know you can eat it. In fact the Isles Of Scilly has some amazing restaurants serving a variety of fresh seafood, lobster and crab being a speciality as well as various other dishes.
Life on St Martins is at your own pace. I have hired a bike and can travel the Island at my own leisure, stopping at the bakery for fresh bread for sandwiches, consumed whilst writing leant against a rock or staring out to sea at the silver half moon faces of seals. For those who want a more active holiday there is the opportunity to play tennis, go sailing or learn to windsurf. There are also some lovely walks around the island or you can get on a boat which will ferry you to another island.
Rustic charm, ground laced in gorse, untamed nature strewn with grey craggy rocks and rare plants, birds sing daffodils nod and other than that complete peace. Fields of strawberries and potatoes grow almost undisturbed and a westerly wind blows gently across sending the scent of the sea, this is Bryher.
Bryher is Cornish for "Land of the hills," gentle hills roll over the island making for one of the most stunning islands I have visited. The views are truly spectacular. The Isles Of Scilly is an excellent place for bird spotters and Bryher is no exception with terns, kittiwakes, gulls and razorbills to name a few, in the autumn migratory birds will land here on their long journey to winter feeding grounds.
St Agnes is connected to Gugh by a sandbar visible at low tide between the two islands there are only roughly 70 inhabitants. It is the only island that doesn’t have a hotel but it has guest houses, self catering cottages and a clean and friendly camp-site as well as a pub open during the summer months.
A white 17th century light house converted into accommodation forms a striking feature on St Agnes. One of my memorable moments as a child whilst visiting St Agnes was the discovery of a pebble maze, although its been suggested it was made by a bored lighthouse keeper in the 18th century evidence suggests it covers an older turf maze and is medieval in origin.
Sitting on the harbour walls, the sun falls over bobbing yachts and rowing boats forming a tapestry of light and shadow over the water. Minnows gather around the harbour steps and dance amongst brown and green seaweed. Close by in a tranquil town, shops selling curiosities and artwork prepare to close for the evening and restaurants become more active.
The town is surrounded in hedgerows with vibrant wild flowers intertwined and sparrows and blue tits that sing melodically. The evening sun glimmers over medieval castles and ancient monuments, this is St Marys the largest of the islands and this is where my holiday ends. I will be returning to Penzance quay on the Scillonian ferry, it will be a 2 hour journey but picturesque and an opportunity to see some more of the islands as I leave as well as hopefully seeing some dolphins or seals further out to sea.