Walk Scilly - setting the scene
When I was approached back in February by Visit Isles of Scilly wondering if I'd be interested in popping across for a gifted PR trip to take part in their annual walking festival, I sat and pondered....nah, just kidding, it was a no-brainer, I jumped at the opportunity to go...
From February to April, it was a whirlwind of excitement. From planning what to pack, cleaning my walking boots, reading the jampacked itinerary over and over again, and daydreaming endlessly, it was safe to say I was in much need of this trip and looking forward to exploring these magical islands on foot. And to make it even better, I was able to bring a plus one so of course, asked my best friend and Cornish Ramblings second in command, Tanya.
In the next three blogs over the following couple of weeks, I plan to share with you a little insight into our adventure to the islands and what Tanya and I got up to; from the food we ate, the guesthouse we stayed in, the excursions we went on, the local drinks we tasted, the travel to and from the isles, what I packed, and many other snippets of our incredible trip.
As I have already mentioned, this trip was a gifted opportunity which I am so grateful and thankful for. And I hope you will find enjoyment in hearing about our time across on the Isles of Scilly (IOS) to encourage you to take a trip across and see for yourselves why it is such a popular destination for many people, far and wide...including our Walking Queen, Julia Bradbury, who once told me it was her most favourite place on earth. And after my time there, I am inclined to agree.
In this first blog, keep reading to find out more about our trip across on the Scillonian III, the Walk Scilly Festival, and what I packed for three days of walking and exploring.
⚓️ S C I L L O N I A N I I I ⚓️
It had been ten years since I last hopped on the Scillonian III on a day trip to St Mary's, and before that, it was when I was at school so, this incredible opportunity to spend a long weekend on three out of the five inhabited islands was an actual dream come true. It comes with thanks to Visit Isles of Scilly and Isles of Scilly Travel that I had this opportunity to head over for three days of walking, exploring, sea swimming, eating, and relaxing - and it was also during their walking festival Walk Scilly which I was super excited to be a part of.
Although my stomach did a flip at the thought of being on the Scillonian, there was a part of me that was quite excited about arriving by boat and spending a couple of hours on the sea, the waves lapping and the wind tousling my hair.
The crossing from Penzance to St. Mary’s takes around 2hrs and 45 minutes, sailing at a leisurely pace and allowing us a unique perspective of some of Cornwall’s most iconic coastline. There are comfy, reclining seats (which were most welcome whilst my face was in a sick bag!) as well as their onboard café, Western Rocks Coffee Co, serving hot and cold drinks and snacks...including plenty of ginger-based products! Although I didn't take Purdy with me this time, dogs are very welcome in most areas of the ship, but owners are asked to please keep them on a lead and to the designated areas.
The boat sails up to seven days a week from March to November. Sailing along our incredible Cornish coast, including the honeypot villages of Mousehole and Newlyn, visitors will get magnificent views from the deck. It’s also a great way to spot wildlife, with the ferry regularly escorted by sea birds, pods of dolphins - and occasionally whales and basking sharks! I was on cloud nine on the return journey as I also saw several dolphins dancing in the waves alongside the boat. I cried literal tears of joy.
The travel was super fun and very comfortable, with plenty of room even if the boat is quite full. The Scillonian is a really affordable way to travel to the Scillies and especially if you look at when they offer day trips at discounted prices, which makes it even more affordable.
ℹ️ For more information on the Scillonian, please visit www.islesofscilly-travel.co.uk
In its sixteenth year, the much-loved annual walking festival ‘Walk Scilly’ returned between the 15th to 21st of April 2023. This festival is often considered the ‘opener’ for the island’s main tourist season, the festival which celebrates the coast paths, beaches, tracks, footpaths, fields, gardens, and farmland of Scilly. It also offers you a chance to explore the archipelago through a series of carefully curated guided walks.
Walk Scilly is the perfect opportunity for you to get to know the islands more intimately, to understand and learn about the kinds of wildlife that inhabit the islands, and to hear from local expert guides. You'll have the opportunity to wander around the isles, and really get to know each of their personalities. I spent a day each on St Mary's, St Martin's, and Tresco and I can safely say, they are all very different in their vibes and all offer something magically unique and distinct.
I was fortunate enough to attend a couple of expeditions whilst staying on St Mary's, one of which meant taking a boat trip across to St Martin's, and the other to Tresco, and it was such a wonderful way of seeing what each isle has to offer. In the next blog I will be sharing in more detail what we got up to on these two excursions, but let's just say pheasants, walking (of course), wine, boat trips, and telescopes were involved...
This year's Walk Scilly festival had an abundance of treats available. From wildlife walks, wild swimming, historical talks, and a conversation with the author of The Salt Path, Raynor Winn, to foraging walks along the pristine shores, meditation, shipwreck searching, and the ever-popular 'Scilly Seabirds and Seals' sea safari, there is so much to do throughout the week across the isles that you'll be hard-pressed trying to choose what not to do.
The finale of the week was the much-loved Low-Tide event between Tresco and Bryher. This unique experience reveals a glorious sand bar at low tide allowing you to walk between the two islands and becomes the location for a food and drink festival. I was sad to have just missed this event, but I will definitely be heading back next year to take part! We met a couple on the boat (before I had a moment down in the comfy chairs!!) who were heading across just to take part in the Low-Tide event!
This festival is a great way to get in those steps and see what each of the five islands really has to offer. With walks graded from easy, moderate, and strenuous, you are able to tailor your time on the Isles of Scilly to suit you. And with so much going on, you'll never be at a loss of finding something interesting or fun to do. However, I definitely recommend factoring in a moment to just sit on one of the many idyllic beaches, feel the sand beneath your fingertips, watch the waves, and immerse yourself in the beauty around you.
What to pack!
Now, I may not be the best person to suggest what you need to take on a 3-day walking holiday because I always take more than necessary. But, I'm going to share with you a little insight into what I took as I always find it helps me when planning a trip away. Plus, I like being nosy...
When it comes to packing, I tend to become a little nerdy. I make lists galore of everything I need to prep before I leave, what to pack, the outfit I’m travelling in, and a rough itinerary of what I’m doing when I’m there…anyone else like this?! For this specific trip, I used the One Note app on my iPad to organise myself, and I really enjoyed the sections and tabs feature (not sponsored fyi) which allowed me to go wild on the list-making and ensure I had packed everything I needed!
When using the Scillonian as your mode of transport to the IOS, you are allowed one piece of hand luggage and one piece of holdall luggage. I used my walking backpack as my hand luggage which I also attached my walking pole to, and stored my iPad, chargers, a few extra pieces of clothing that I couldn't fit into my suitcase, my reusable water bottle, snacks, a waterproof coat, and my day to day essentials such as my purse, inhaler, and mobile phone.
I also wore my walking boots rather than have to fit them in my suitcase, and made sure the outfit I wore to travel in would be suitable in all weathers, and what I could wear again on the journey home.
In my suitcase, I packed the following items:
3 x walking trousers
2 x t-shirts
2 x swimming costumes
1 x beanie hat
1 x sports bra
1 x windproof popover
1 x jumper
3 x walking socks
2 x nice outfits for dinner
1 x down (fake) filled coat
1 x waterproof coat
1 x handbag
1 pair of gaitors
1 x foldable microfibre towel
1 x baseball cap
2 x battery packs
A lot of Compeed blister plasters
1 x toweling DryRobe
1 x notepad and pens
Painkillers and antihistimines
1x pair of nice shoes for the evenings
I was very fortunate to be staying in a wonderful guesthouse on St Mary's where I was able to dry off any clothes that may have got wet and had towels provided. We were lucky with the weather all weekend and only had a couple of very small showers so none of the clothes I wore needed drying out. However, should you choose to camp then the above list would look very different and you may want to include an extra of each.
We were also very fortunate to have had our three days mapped out for us so there was no need for any navigation devices as we had a detailed description and map to use on our arrival. The islands are fairly easy to navigate around without any tools as there are well-trodden pathways and trails with clearly marked signposts to help you out. However, I do recommend a map of the islands to keep you on the right track should you find yourself a little out of your comfort zone.
This first blog was just a taster of what's to come and I hope you have enjoyed reading all about our trip so far! In the next blog, I will be showing you around where we stayed, and going into a lot more detail about our time on the islands, which will include the places we visited, the food we ate, wild swimming, and the trails we walked. Be sure to come back for part two, coming soon!
Thank you again to Visit Isles of Scilly and Isles of Scilly Travel for this opportunity.