Isles of Scilly holiday
At last I have made a start to this long neglected blog and it is all the fault of Leslie (message in a fold) – not Leslie’s fault that the blog is long neglected but her fault that I have taken it up again!!
Well I’ve got to blame someone and if you find all this boring then you know who to blame too 🙂
DH and I went to the Isles of Scilly for our holiday towards the end of August but before we could leave home and get to explore ‘our’ paradise many pages of instructions had to be written for our daughters who were looking after home, horse, dog and garden in our absence; housework had to be done – couldn’t leave it looking like a pigsty for our daughters now could I? – lists made to remind me what we needed to pack, etc, etc.
Soooooooooo all the above finally done and off we went.
The Isles of Scilly, for those not in the know, is approximately 28 miles off the tip of Cornwall and is a collection of around 200 islands, many of these islands are just rocks but loved by the many seabirds that nest and/or live amongst these islands.
Tresco is the home of the world famous Abbey Gardens filled with exotic trees, shrubs and plants.
In total across the five islands there is a resident population of approximately 2,000 people. The secondary school is on St Mary’s so the children from the other islands travel by boat to school! Beats catching the bus unless it is pouring with rain and the sea is boiling however some children board at the school Monday to Friday while others only board if the weather is too severe.
Visiting the Isles of Scilly is like journeying to a mediterrean area; it is warmer, the sea is blue and clear and the pace of life slower. There is a whiff of the exotic because plants and flowers that I can grow back home in Gloucestershire during the summer but have to protect during the winter grow all year round on Scilly; pass a roadside hedge or garden and geraniums (pelargoniums), agaves, agapanthus, amaryllis and gazanias are growing with gay abandon and make my efforts look rather pathetic! Don’t know the name of these ‘triffid’ like plant but it
towered over the roof top of the house in whose garden it grew. It was obviously a great source of nectar or pollen too as there many bees visiting it. Very strange!!
I know this sounds idyllic but the sun doesn’t always shine and the sea can be quite tempestuous at times!! For those in the UK catch the Island Parish series and there is footage of the gale force winds that can blow! But there is rarely snow and ice so that makes it idyllic as far as we are concerned. Last winter whilst we were dealing with -13 degree C cold, deep snow lying over ice the temperature was 7 degree C on St Mary’s.
The islands abound in history and one of our favourite walks and places to visit on St Mary’s is the Garrison. What we always forget is just how steep the walk up to the gates of the Garrison is and that walk soon sorts out the unfit! The Garrison surrounds the Star Castle; this is so called because the castle walls have been built in a star shape which made
attack by canon more difficult. The photo shows the Star Castle from the sea. The castle is now a luxury hotel and has some beautiful sea views.
Building began in Tudor times (16th Century)and was added to and strengthened many times over the years to defend not only the Scilly isles from attack by sea but also to give some defence to the mainland. This castle replaces a much older, medieval, castle above Old Town where there are still signs of the original jetty but little sign of the ruins of the original castle. With the construction of the Star Castle the focus for the inhabitants moved from the Old Town to Hugh Town where the quay and harbour now is.
Anyhoo after puffing and panting up the steep roadway entrance is via these gates, stopping to catch our breath we looked down over part of the town to the bay. Above the gates is a bell tower to sound the alarm.
The dwellings either side of the gates were presumably to house the guard but are now holiday lets with one or two of them as permanent residences.
This is the entrance to the Star Castle Hotel and for those staying here the management have minibuses to meet guests off the ferry or helicopter and transport them to the hotel – bet the army of the time wouldn’t have minded that!!
The land from the castle down to the garrison walls drops away so as we walk down to the walls there are superb views of the sea and across to Tresco, Bryher and Samson. At strategic places there are benches to sit upon and admire the view.
These walls are several feet thick with the later ones built from dressed granite, the earlier ones are rubble stone. The construction of the garrison walls must have kept the craftsmen of the time exceedingly busy; the thickness and height of the walls gave protection to the soldiery of the time but also proved robust against any returning canon fire. There are parts called Redans, these are triangular shaped sections of wall where canon could be so positioned as to give cross fire which must have terrified and confused any who enemies who were trying to creep through. The land falls away again beyond the walls and in places there are huge rocks, deterrents in themselves.
Think that is enough for now, further instalments to come so be warned!
Click on the photo below to be taken to my Picasa album to see the rest of the Garrison photos!
|Garrison, St Mary's, Isles of Scilly|