Category: Sail Isles of Scilly

Sail Away with us for a Microcation

Stravaigin paddle board on anchor

Feel like getting away from it all but not excited about having to face long airport queues and flights? Then whisk yourself away for a Microcation, a shorter break in a place close to home. A much simpler option that allows travellers to hop in the car, on a train or bus to a chosen location where they can escape for a few days. Sound heavenly? Read on for our Microcation suggestions;

A Taste of Sailing in Devon

The sheltered south coast of Devon is the perfect place to learn the ropes and get to grips with life at sea whilst sailing along the stunning English Riviera. Climb aboard classic ships Pilgrim of Brixham or Escape and disconnect from life ashore. Discover sheltered coves, bustling harbours and peaceful anchorages on board these classic vessels, both offering comfortable sailing and the chance to totally switch off for a few days. Departing from Dartmouth or Brixham, join us for an exhilarating long weekend that guarantees guests return feeling refreshed, revived and relaxed after time spent on the water.

View our Devon sailing schedule >

Long Weekend Sailing in Cornwall

Beautiful, iconic Cornwall. Where better to while away a long weekend this spring. Sail away with one of our traditional sailing boats to unwind for a few days, exploring the gorgeous coastline and picture-perfect harbours from the water. Join Agnes, Unity or Maybe for some traditional hands-on sailing or gather up a couple of friends or loved ones to see Cornwall with your own private charter. Families can also escape up the river Tamar with a 2-night break aboard Tamar Barge Lyhner – it’s like glamping on the water! With regular train links in to the county from all major cities, a short break to this sunny county is easier than you may think.

View our Cornwall sailing schedule >

Sailing Short Breaks in the Isles of Scilly

For pure escapism, head to Scilly. Set just a short flight from Exeter, Newquay or Land’s End airport, or a ferry ride across from Penzance they are easily accessible and offer an experience like nowhere else in England. Think crystal clear azure waters, powder soft white sands, fresh-off-the-boat seafood and out of this world star-gazing – the Isles of Scilly has it all. Join pretty Pettifox in St Mary’s for an exclusive holiday, she will be all yours for the duration, sailing at your request. Breakfast is provided and then there is the perfect opportunity to indulge in the delectable island fare at will for lunch and dinner. Sailing holidays in Scilly are simply magical and a blissful way to escape the everyday and you can enjoy a Microcation with just 4 days of sailing from St Mary’s with Pettifox.

Mircocations in Scotland

A few days away exploring the Hebrides and unplugging from technology or busy lives is an ideal way to recharge your batteries. The minute you set sail from Oban and head out through the Sound of Mull and the Isle of Kerrera, it’s instant relaxation, with the wind in your sails and an abundance of wildlife to look out for. Join yacht Straviagin for a 2-night swim & sail experience, where you can swim from the boat in some of the most idyllic locations in Scotland, with a warm shower waiting when you are back on board. Jump on board a tall ship taster trip with Bessie Ellen or Blue Clipper and try your hand at traditional sailing. These 4-day adventures give you a taste of life under sail of a bygone age, learn the ropes and meet like-minded people to explore with – perfect for the solo traveller.

The Isles of Scilly, an Island by Island guide

Isles of Scilly St Agnes sailing boat

Set 28 miles out into the Atlantic Ocean, the low-lying Isles of Scilly are small, untamed and isolated. Often bathed in warm sunshine, they offer a balmy idyll surrounded by crystal-clear waters.

Comprised of just five inhabited islands, and numerous tiny uninhabited rocks and islets, the archipelago is home to 2,200 islanders, The largest, St. Mary’s is just 2.5 square miles in size and home to the largest population – a total of 1,800 – with the other 400 Scillonians spread across Tresco, St. Martin’s, Bryher and St. Agnes. Each isle has it’s own personality, offering subtle differences from its neighbours. No visit here would be complete without experiencing them all and the best way to explore is with a Scilly sailing holiday.

St. Mary’s

For those arriving into Scilly by flight or boat, they will have their first glimpse of island life on St. Mary’s.  It may be the largest in the cluster but it’s still very small with a total circumference of just over 9 miles. Head to the ‘capital’ Hugh Town to browse an eclectic cluster of shops, galleries and the museum or soak up the sights from one of the tempting cafes and restaurants that are dotted throughout the town. As you sail into the main harbour, you can see why this island attracts too many sailors each year and with its new marina onshore facilities, the islands welcome boats from far and wide every season.

Lace-up your boots and set off on foot to uncover some of the islands Bronze Age history and the outstanding scenery that has long lured artists and wildlife enthusiasts. Take in the incredible sights from the historic 16th Century Star Castle which commands panoramic views across the archipelago or make for Old Town where you can beach comb whilst losing yourself in the peaceful hush that falls on this quieter side of the island. And if you’ve worked up an appetite after a busy day exploring then you’ll be pleased to know that nowhere is far from a delicious local eatery. – there’s even a vineyard and gin distillery to enjoy!

St. Martin’s

Home to some of the finest powder-soft white sandy beaches, visitors to St. Martin’s are often forgiven for thinking they’ve landed in the Caribbean. The miles of long white sand, backed by marram-topped dunes are deemed some of the best in Britain, they ebb away into mesmerizingly clear turquoise waters which just cry out to be swum in. It’s the perfect place to pack up a picnic and wander along the coast, exploring, beachcombing and whiling the hours away.

Aside from the beach St. Martin’s offers a natural paradise, a spectacular landscape of wild flowers, heather and gorse.  The birdlife here is exceptional with guillemots, Storm Petrels and puffins all calling the Eastern isles (which are scattered off the far tip of St. Martin’s) home. Stick around until after dark and you will be rewarded with a sky full of stars – the island boasts five dark sky sites and even a community observatory.

St. Agnes

Fondly referred to as the wild isle, St. Agnes is Britains most southwesterly outpost and is strewn with Bronze Age burial sites and barren heathland. Spirited, independent and windswept, St. Agnes offers a rugged beauty interspersed with stunning sheltered coves. The only island to be separated from the archipelago by a deep-water channel, St. Agnes is connected to the diminutive island of Gugh by a shallow sand bar that is only accessible at low tide. Stroll barefoot across to spend a few hours utterly castaway during the flooding high tide. Gugh is one of the most popular anchorages on Scilly, where you can spend the evening on deck with the most amazing sunsets and starry skies for company.

It is in part this isolation that has seen the island become a magnet for wildlife and it is here that Storm petrels and Manx shearwaters have started to breed again thanks to the highly successful Seabird Recovery Project. For those who prefer more modern comforts, fear not, St. Agnes is also home to galleries, musicians and artists’ workshops as well as the most south-westerly dairy farm in Britain which produces absolutely phenomenal ice cream!

Tresco

Manicured and sophisticated, Tresco is the only privately owned island in the chain and its luxurious appeal lures celebrities and royalty alike. Proffering fabulous beaches – both Pentle Bay and Appletree Bay jostle for attention amongst the world’s best beaches – it is the ideal place to linger and take in the sense of calm which Tresco exudes.

However, it is the incredible sub-tropical Tresco Abbey Garden for which the island is arguably best known. A botanical wonder set amidst the ruins of an ancient Benedictine priory, the gardens are home to over 20,000 plant species collected from around the globe, many of which would be unable to survive anywhere else in the UK. Whilst exploring, keep eyes out for the flash of a red squirrel – they have thrived since being introduced in 2013 and are often spotted hopping from tree to tree! Wildlife watchers will also rejoice in watching the seals and array of migratory birds that flock to Great Pool whilst history lovers can spend hours visiting the numerous heritage sites found on Tresco, including Cromwell’s Castle which guards the channel between Tresco and Bryher. And there’s no need to pack a lunch, hungry tummies can be satiated at one of the mouth-watering eateries, each serving up delicious island shellfish and local produce.

Bryher

Beautiful Bryher, an island of rugged cliffs and secluded coves, of wonderful contrast and overflowing with charm. Just one and a half miles in length by half a mile wide, this tiny isle packs a punch with countless artists and creative spirits inspired by its magical charms including author Michael Morpurgo. Indeed, Bryher is the location for the film When the Whales Came, filmed on the island back in 1988.

However, you do not need to be a creative type to be captivated by Bryher’s allure. Experience the stillness of the southern shores with their shell-strewn beaches and rich aquamarine waters. Venture up the granite stacks of Shipman Head to storm watch and embrace the wilder side of Bryher or circumnavigate the coastline via the seven hills, none of which rise more than 150 feet.

The island is also home to an abundance of tempting island produce. Indulge in heavenly freshly-prepared paella, cook up some Bryher bangers and farm produce on a barbecue, or treat yourself to some delicious Veronica Farm fudge and Crab Shack delights – yum!

Discover the Isles of Scilly with one of our sailing holidays >

You can choose to sail over to the Isles of Scilly from Cornwall or Devon, with voyages departing from Falmouth, Penzance Plymouth or Brixham. The trip over the 28 miles to the islands can take a full day of sailing, depending on the winds, but once you are over there you have the freedom to tour via boat with opportunities to step ashore each day and explore the islands on foot. If you’re not keen to sail over to the Isles of Scilly then you can charter the Scillionian classic boat Pettifox who spends her summers on St Mary’s where she will meet guests off the planes and ferry to host them on board for a week or a weekend. Sail the islands and stop off each day to explore and enjoy the local food or cook out on the beach with a BBQ and watch the sun go down. A sailing holiday on the Isles of Scilly is a truly magical experience unlike any other sailing adventure in the UK.

Scintillating Scilly

Bryher Summer boat isles of scilly sailing holiday

Located just 25 miles from Lands End in Cornwall, these magical islands sparkle like jewels in a silver sea, surrounded by crystal clear turquoise waters, adorned by soft white sandy beaches which back onto lush tropical gardens, crowning pink granite cliffs. Life here is unhurried. And this unique holiday destination is a well kept secret by all who visit, and what better way to explore the archipelago than by sail?

Just a short hop from mainland Cornwall, passing the infamous Wolf Rock lighthouse, the islands seem to be born from the sea. St. Agnes is often a favourite anchorage where you can kick off your shoes and take a relaxing walk up to the lighthouse before heading to the cosy Turks Head, a charming traditional pub with stunning views across the water.

Clear harbour on Scilly Isles St Marys Sailing holiday

Life’s simple pleasures are the name of the game here. Swim – you must – off the sand spit between Gugh and Aggie, shake yourself off with a short walk to the Bronze Age burial mound, Obediah’s Chamber, before climbing back on board. Sailing out round Western Rocks, Bishops Rock lighthouse stands tall and proud, defeating Atlantic storms, protecting ships against the jagged teeth-like rocks for over 100 years. It is here you may see the endearing puffin, along with countless dolphins feeding in the shallower waters around the coast.

No Scilly voyage is complete without a stop at the narrow channel between Bryher and Tresco. Here, dominated by Hangman’s Rock, the clear waters are sheltered from the booming Atlantic swell beyond and a sense of calm reigns. Don’t be fooled by the small size of these two islands, there’s plenty to entice you onto dry land and explore. The world famous Tresco Abbey Gardens are home to a plethora of subtropical flora and fauna, plus a red squirrel population. If the botany isn’t for you then simply let your eyes absorb this natural wonder.  Striking Agapanthus are everywhere along with brightly coloured tropical flowers which line the walking paths – where no cars are allowed.

Red squirrel Tresco Isles of Scilly Sailing

You will soon discover that foraging is an important part of life afloat and shrimping in the shallow channel here at low tide is the best way to spend a few hours getting to know your fellow crew . Not to worry if you don’t succeed, we head across to Bryher and get hold of a feast of freshly caught lobster or crab for your supper back on board in the cosy cabin.

View of Bryher and Tresco channel

Exploring the seas around Scilly provides plenty of excitement for the mariner, strong tidal currents make navigating the narrow passages challenging, so your skipper would love to get you involved in plotting courses to those secluded beaches that beckon. All the channels are well marked, however some of the more remote anchorages use rocks as beacons, so a good lookout is imperative, adding to the thrill of holidays afloat.

Life on Scilly is not all quiet however and busy St Mary’s harbour is a hub of activity with rowing pilot gigs, famed as wreckers, the daily arrival, and departure of the Scillonian ferry (during high season), a supermarket and of course locally made clothing. Busy pubs and great cafes make St Mary’s a great day out but do hire a bike to see the best of this island. Quaint Old Town and the church where Prime Minister Harold Wilson is buried, Porthellick where Admiral Cloudesley Shovell washed ashore after wrecking the Naval fleet. Perhaps make for Juliet’s Café, deemed to have the best view in the Scillies, where you can’t help but be drawn to stop, sit and take a moment to reflect on life.

Once really cannot describe the magic of Scilly, it’s what you make of it, the sunsets, the peace, your ship rocking gently at anchor, the smell of nature and of course the beauty of your little ship and all who sail in her. Arrive home in Newlyn, utterly relaxed, rejuvenated and ready to take on the world once more. But sshhh, don’t tell everyone your secret.