Walking on the Isles of Scilly

Cars and trains and boats and planes
Getting to the Isles of Scilly can be something of a challenge. For myself it involved a 350 mile car journey followed by a flight from the small airfield at Lands End. The car journey was uneventful but the flight was great. The Skybus flights operate from several UK airports but the Lands End airport is where the service was founded and is like proper old fashioned flying.
The car parking is only a few pounds per day so once you have waved goodbye to your vehicle you enter the Skybus small departure lounge and get weighed. First the friendly staff weigh your luggage and then they weigh you!


The aircraft that operate the short hop to the islands are Britten Norman Islanders and because of the tricycle undercarriage they must be loaded correctly.
This means heavy passengers at the front and lightweights at the back. They only seat 8 so it is very cosy. The pre-flight briefing is given by the pilot who simply turns around in his seat and has a chat. The flight time is only fifteen minutes but it transports you further than you might imagine. The landing strip at St Mary’s is quite visible as the Skybus comes in to land and seems to get very big at an alarming speed, don’t worry! The landing is very smooth.

Another method of travel to the Isles of Scilly is by boat. The Scillonian III is a purpose built ferry that sails between Penzance and Hughtown on the St Mary’s. The crossing allows passengers to enjoy the dramatic coastal scenery and get a taste of sea air during the 3 hour passage. The Scillonian III represents a real lifeline for the islands and it is not unusual to see all manner of items being loaded and unloaded. On my crossing the foredeck was crammed with racing gigs following the world championships which are hosted every April.


The next choice to consider is the helicopter service which flies from Penzance and is operated by British International. They operate a regular service and are the only air operator to fly direct to both the Islands of Tresco and St Mary's. Flying by helicopter is a slightly expensive choice but if you have not done a helicopter flight before then here is your chance. The helicopters are the big Sikorsky S61 which are very comfortable, they will also give passengers some great views as they fly out from the airfield at Penzance to the Isles.

Once you are on St Mary’s the choice of travel to the other islands is aboard one of the many boats that run out to the smaller islands. The St Mary’s Boatman’s Association operate regular sailing’s from the harbour at Hughtown to all the smaller islands. In addition to the regular sailing’s they also operate special interest cruises such as evening cruises and history trips with Katherine Sawyer, an expert on the history and archaeology of the Scillies.


The size and type of boats that are available ranges from big, modern, island hoppers to powerful ribs that will get you around very quickly.
The rest of the time you will be on foot as motor transport on the islands is limited or nonexistent. Timetables for sailing’s can be found at almost every establishment and the tourist office in Hughtown also issues tickets for all the regular crossings.

Scillies Index