The Isles of Scilly: Britain's most exotic escape?

The Isles of Scilly lie just 28 miles off the Cornish coast but the fact that they’re not accessible by car (just air or boat) contributes to their unique, almost continental feel.

Blessed with a milder climate than the UK (although the winters can be wild when the Atlantic gales kick up) the beaches are every bit as beautiful as some in the Mediterranean – but without the crowds. If you’re staying at a timeshare resort in Cornwall this autumn, a visit to “Scilly” is highly recommended and it’s possible to hop across in the morning and return later the same day.

A short flight on the Skybus mini-plane service will get you from Lands End to St. Mary’s in about twenty minutes but if you’d rather take the slower sea route, there’s the two and a half hour cruise on the Scillonian III which departs from Penzance, or hop on a British International Helicopter (but check the schedule because this service will end on 31 October).

There are five inhabited islands in all and a good base for exploring the others would be St. Mary’s which also happens to be the largest measuring 2½ x 1¾ miles. (Tresco, St. Martin’s, Bryher and St. Agnes are the other four).

Once you reach St. Mary’s, make your way to Hugh Town which is the capital of the island and a short taxi ride from the airport. A lot of locals make a living from producing artisan-style products so there are some really unique boutiques and craft studios that sell original jewellery and handcrafted designs in the town.

Because they lie right at the southern-most tip of Britain, The Isles of Scilly rarely get frost or snow which means farmers can grow flowers in this sub-tropical paradise which bloom ahead of mainland Britain. Tresco’s lush Sub-Tropical Abbey Gardens are a perfect example of the exotic flora and fauna that thrive on the islands which are famous for their orchid exports.

If you want to see “Scilly” now’s the time to go, because British Island Helicopters will no longer be flying the routes after 31 October and main ferry services cease at the end of October as well.

Useful websites

Simply Scilly, the official Isles of Scilly tourist website www.simplyscilly.co.uk

Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust www.ios-wildlifetrust.org.uk

Leading European resort developer Club La Costa has two luxury resorts in Cornwall: Hustyns www.clcleisure.com/hustyns/ and Trenython Manor: www.clcleisure.com/trenython

Tresco Island Timeshare www.tresco.co.uk/about-tresco/timeshare-opportunities.aspx

Getting there

South West trains run services to Penzance www.southwest.railsaver.co.uk/southwest.htm Isles of Scilly travel operates flights and ferry crossings (except on Sundays) from Lands End andPenzance, including transport between Penzance station and Lands End airport, see www.islesofscilly-travel.co.uk There are also flights from Newquay, Bristol, Exeter and Southampton.

Visit www.skybus.co.uk for short hop flights in the Skybus eight-seater planes to the islands from Cornwall.

If you’re arriving by helicopter, there’s more information at www.islesofscillyhelicopter.com (please note that British International Helicopters will no longer offer the service after 31 October 2012).

If you’re staying in Cornwall, the official tourist site is www.visitcornwall.com

Last but not least, Cornwall: A Bird’s Eye View is a stunning video that showcases the sheer beauty of one of Britain’s most popular timeshare destinations www.youtube.com/watch?v=boNT46BMyWg

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