the spellbinding charms of the Isles of Scilly

scillyblog-7scillyblog-10From the moment that we glimpsed them from the Skybus window, a scattering of green and gold islands in the middle of a jewel-bright sea, I knew that the Isles of Scilly were going to be magical. An unexpectedly exotic archipelago just a few miles West of the Cornish coast, the Isles of Scilly are like nowhere else that I have ever been.

Arriving on the islands is like stepping into a long-forgotten childhood dream. Endless sparkling golden beaches, deserted but for the seals and sea gulls; ruined castles; wrecks and tales of historical adventure. Moors to explore; long coastal hills to freewheel down on bicycles; boats to sail and treasure to dig for. Gardens like jungles; deserted cottages; turquoise waters in which to bathe. The spellbinding charms of the Isles of Scilly captured the heart of each and every one of our family.

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We stayed on the island of Tresco, in a beautiful cottage called Dial Rocks. Perched on a hill overlooking the small harbour, almost every window in the cottage had a stunning sea view, not to mention a cosy window seat from which to watch the boats pass by. A path behind the cottage led – through a mass of bright gorse and purple heather – to the ruined castles on the other side of the island. At sunset, when the sky turned pink: clouds reflected in the glassy waters of the bay, the heather glowed, violet flecked with gold.

scillyblog-8Across the water, a plume of smoke drifted up from a bonfire on the adjacent island of Bryher. The setting for Michael Morpurgo’s Why The Whales Came ( one of my favourite childhood novels), Bryher is an island with a timeless, atmospheric feel to it. The drifting sea fog on the day that we visited only added to its mysteries. We watched seals swimming off the rocks and scoured the beach for cowrie shells, then visited artist Richard Pearce’s dreamy beachside studio, where I swooned over the light, the views and the peace.

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There are few cars on the islands, so the children could explore freely. They dawdled along hedgerows, picking blackberries as they went, stopping to climb a gate or a wall, to gain a better view of the sea. They collected endless treasures: flowers from the lanes, shells and sea glass from the beaches, pebbles from the shore. Back at the cottage, these precious items were carefully sorted, displayed in a museum that they had arranged on a bedroom shelf. They revelled in tales of castles and invaders, sailors and shipwrecks. Each day that we spent on the islands was filled with happy discoveries and gentle adventures. We could cheerfully have stayed for the entire summer and still have innumerable places left to explore.scillyblog-9

We’ve been back at home – at school- for a couple of weeks now and yet, if I close my eyes, I am back on the beach in an instant, toes dusted with sparking sand. I can hear the waves breaking softly on the shore, and smell the salt, and the sweet beach chamomile. In my pocket, my hand closes over tiny shells and shards of bright sea glass, worn smooth by the perpetual ocean.

I left a little piece of my heart behind on the Isles of Scilly, and one day in the future I must return there to reclaim it.

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If you’d like to know more about our Isles of Scilly adventures, I have written a number of short articles for This is Your Kingdom. I’ve also made a brief film, which you will find at the bottom of this post, and you can see my Isles of Scilly images on Instagram here.

{Our trip to the Isles of Scilly was complimentary as part of a press trip on behalf of This Is Your Kingdom. Thank you to Visit Isles of Scilly for arranging such a memorable trip, to Isles of Scilly Travel for the flights, to Tresco Island for hosting us, and to This is Your Kingdom for sending me! All thoughts, opinions and images are my own.}

Island Dreams from Laura (circleofpines) on Vimeo.

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