Scilly's natural magnetism
It must be said from the outset, there are no “formal” tourist attractions on Scilly. Theme parks and on-tap entertainment simply don’t happen here – that’s the beauty of these gentle islands. We do, however, boast a number of outstanding natural attractions to admire.
One of our biggest “attractions” and a definite must-see when you come to Scilly is the world famous Tresco Abbey Garden, considered by many to be the UK’s most outstanding horticultural paradise. Home to over 20,000 exotic species, this hotspot of flora and fauna is a glorious exhibition of tender, tropical blooms that wouldn't survive anywhere else in the British Isles. Due to the warmer microclimate of the Isles of Scilly, much of the kaleidoscopic jungle that thrives here can't even be found just 30 miles away in the most western parts of Cornwall. Even at the winter equinox you can find more than 300 plants in flower. Within the Tresco Abbey Garden there is an equally impressive exhibition of haunting Valhalla figureheads, a reminder of the ships that have come to grief in the treacherous Scillonian waters.
Castles & Forts
Also on Tresco, you’ll find Kind Charles’ Castle at New Grimsby, so called because of its occupation by royalist forces in 1651 even though the small artillery fort was probably built a 100 years earlier during the reign of the boy king Edward VI (1547-1553). On the other side of the island, overlooking Old Grimsby, are the remains of Old Block Tower, a small 16th gun tower.
On St. Mary's, The Garrison is the heavily fortified headland surrounding Star Castle, the frontline of England’s defences since the 16th Century. Also on St. Mary’s on the hill at the far end of Porthmellon Beach, you’ll find Harry’s Walls, an unfinished fort dating back to 1551 and the reign of Edward VI.
Above Porthcressa, you will find Buzza Tower, previously called King Edward's Tower. It was built originally as a windmill in 1834 to replace the earlier Peninnis Mill. It stands on a kerbed platform which probably incorporates the remains of a Bronze Age cairn excavated by William Borlase during the 18th century. Today, Buzza Tower hosts a Camera Obscura and a small Museum of Curiosities.
Scilly boasts some amazing rock formations as well as famous landmarks - none better than at Porth Hellick Bay on St. Mary's where there's a memorial to Sir Cloudesley Shovel, the Admiral of the Fleet whose body was washed ashore here in 1707 after his ship, The Association was wrecked off Scilly. Closer to Hugh Town, Peninnis Head is also home to many fascinating rock formations including 'Pulpit Rock' and 'The Stack'.
On St Agnes, you won't fail to notice the splendid lighthouse, now a private home, and a wonderful circular maze of rounded beach stones rumoured to have been built by a lighthouse keeper centuries ago. Next door on Gugh, you'll find the Old Man, a stone standing 9 foot tall believed to be associated with Bronze Age rituals.
On St. Martin’s is one of Scilly's most iconic landmarks - the striking red and white daymark erected in 1683 by Thomas Ekins. You can reach it via an exhilarating walk around Chapel Down.
Perhaps, though, the most well-known landmark is Bishop Lighthouse (the one featured on the BBC). It was first built in 1847-50 as an open iron structure, but was soon destroyed by a violent storm before even receiving its light. It was rebuilt (1851-58) in stone. Even this was not strong enough and in 1881 the tower was heightened and given an outer casing of stone. Light was provided by an oil lamp until electricity was installed in 1973, and the helideck was added in 1976. The lighthouse is now automated.
Across the whole of Scilly, there are ancient remains dating back to the Iron and Bronze Ages. On St. Mary’s, two of the most well known are Halangy Down Ancient Village and Bant's Carn Burial Chamber with its entrance passage and inner chamber. Both are located close to McFarland’s Down. The Bronze Age tomb at Innisidgen is also close by just beyond Bar Point, itself one of St. Mary's most scenic and sandy beaches.
The sub-tropical Abbey Garden is a perennial Kew without the glass - shrugging off salt spray and Atlantic gales to host thousands of exotic plants.
Many of these would stand no chance on the Cornish mainland, less than 30 miles away. Yet even at the winter equinox more than 300 plants will be in flower. All in all, the garden is home to species from 80 countries, ranging from Brazil to New Zealand and Burma to
The most south westerly course in England, its beauty is unique and must be seen if visiting St Mary's.
We are open all year, to members and non-members for golf and our welcoming clubhouse for refreshing drinks, fresh home-cooked food and a large balcony to take in some of the best panoramic views of the Islands.
Explore our new exhibition of the St Mary’s and St Agnes flower farmers, their history and flower farming at our shed located by St Mary’s Airport.
Visit the home of Scented Narcissi: The Blue Box Flower Company. We send boxes of beautifully Scented Narcissi grown on the flower farms of St Mary’s and St Agnes. Hand-picked and lovingly packed with care in midnight blue boxes. Delivered by courier to you and your friends.
Come and see a working vineyard in action. Enjoy an informative tour and sample our unique selection of fine wines - or simply pop by the visitor centre/shop at your leisure. Open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (11.00am - 4.00pm) by appointment or when the gate is open!
The Phoenix Craft studios and workshops comprise seven individual craftspeople, many of whom will teach their skills to visitors. visitors can paint glass roundels, ceramic mugs and plates or fabric bags and tee-shirts. Beaded jewellery and silk scarf painting classes are open to all age groups too. Adults (over 14 years) also have the option of doing a three hour class in Tiffany glass, learning to to cut, copper-foil and solder coloured glass into a
Scilly Flowers based at Churchtown Farm on St Martin’s is Scilly’s postal flower service. We send gift boxes of scented flowers to any UK address all year round. In the winter we grow and send Scented Narcissi and in the summer, Scented Pinks. If you are on St Martin’s, pop into the farm and see what we do.
Situated in the tranquil and beautiful Holy Vale on the Nature Trail at the heart of St. Mary’s, the Vineyard and Winery is a must visit location during your stay on St Mary’s.
Open on weekdays 12.00 – 16.30 and by appointment only on Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays for; wine tastings at £17.50 per person, ‘The story of Wine Exhibition’, Cellar Door Shop and refreshments, including Robert's Wine and Lobster Lunch at £24.50 per
Scilly has a fascinating historical past and it's easy to explore ~ just take a walk, a cycle, a buggy ride or one of the tours available! Whether you're after Bronze Age or Iron Age Monuments, something from the 16th or 18th Centuries or even something from more recent history, then Scilly has lots to offer!