The Isles of Scilly are 30 miles beyond the end of Cornwall and are tiny. Lots of maps donít bother to show them at all. They are the last in a chain of granite outcrops stretching from Dartmoor, including Bodmin Moor and the Landís End peninsula. The sands are of white shell, and the islands range from grassy and smooth in the East to jagged and dangerous in the West.
Most photographs were taken on and between the islands of Bryher, Tresco, Samson, and St Martin's. Until about 1000 years ago these were all part of one island called Ennor. Bryher and Tresco only separated about 400 years ago, and you can still wade between them at low spring tides. Wading between the others requires planning and great care.
Bryher is the smallest inhabited island, being less that 1 1/2 miles
long and 1/2 mile wide.
Its name means the 'land of hills' and it has seven hills all with different characters.
It has nine beaches (as I counted them) which are all different too. It's got rocky cliffs, granite
tors, sand dunes, and active farmland - a lot packed into a small area.
Like Tresco and St Martin's it's rocky at the northern end,
and gentler to the south. Until recently early flowers were the main industry (and kelp collection before
that), but now tourism provides the main income, like the other islands.
Hell Bay is the only part of the main islands that usually gets the full force of Atlantic swells and waves, due to the steeply shelving sea. Popplestones is a sheltered bay on the west side, nearby, but usually has little ripples padding on its beach.
Tresco is more organised for its visitors, but still has much to offer the more bohemian visitor too. It is the most tourist developed, and has the famous sub tropical Abbey Gardens. It also has some of the most tropical looking beaches backed by dunes. Pentle Bay is probably the best example with amazing views towards the Eastern Isles. While many visitors enjoy G&Ts under their sun canopies there is real peace to be found just a few hundred metres away.
St Martin's, like Bryher, is for those who like a laid back life, though none of the islands are exactly frenetic. It still has flower farms, and boasts three towns - higher, middle and lower towns, each with at least 20 inhabitants.
St Martin's Flats is an expanse of sand at low tide that stretches most
of the way to St Mary's and Tresco, and it is still technically feasible to walk between them at
very low tides.
Par beach is a classic 'family' beach, while
Great Bay and Little Bay are away from it all.
Samson was deserted by the middle of the 19th Century but has remains of houses and a wall which surrounded a deer park. It is formed of two low hills with a low narrow piece of land between. It can be visited on some days and it's a curious feeling wandering around the island - deserted except for the small groups of other people doing the same thing!
St Helen's and Teän are also both deserted, and have been for much longer than Samson. Each had early Christian settlements, and St Helen's was home to the 'pest house' where shipwrecked sailors were kept in quarentine if they had diseases.