The Scillies are the most isolated and possibly the most beautiful islands
in Britain, located 30 miles off the South West mainland.
150 islands which together make up one of the world's biggest archipelagos.
|Scillies. Photo - Scilly Tourism. |
Two thousand people live on the five inhabited islands that make up
the Isles of Scilly.
St Mary's is the largest and boasts a variety
of landscapes ranging from woodlands, heaths and wetlands to rocky headlands and
The islands rarely get frosts and snow, but they are hit with
the full force of the Atlantic, making them almost always windy.
islands' humid climate is a result of being close to the warm Gulf Stream, which
means that they are home to a huge variety of rare plants and flowers not seen
on the UK's mainland.
Scillies are the first landfall for many migratory birds, with a mild climate
influenced by the warm waters of the Transatlantic drift emanating from the Gulf
The islands' isolation means that there are few mammals and no snakes,
making it home to some great birds, unique animals and an incredible mixture of
native and exotic plants.
Amongst the animals unique to the islands is
the Scilly shrew, which can be seen all over the Scillies, even on its beaches.
Boat trips provide visitors with an opportunity to see the islands'
wildlife at first hand including puffins, Atlantic seals and hundreds of varieties
of sea birds.
Amongst the many sea birds are Manx Shearwater, which
live primarily on the island of Annet, and Puffins.
The Islands support a population of around 250 seals, and
the Eastern Isles on the edge of the archipelago are a favourite location for
basking Grey Seals.
The best time to see the rare migratory birds from
across the Atlantic is Autumn.
The islands are also renowned for their
clear waters, which make snorkelling a popular activity.
snorkellers can swim through giant forests of large brown seaweed or kelp, which
provide food for marine animals such as sea urchins, mussels and limpets.
of the best places to see the Scilly's amazing plant life is the sub-tropical
Abbey Gardens at Tresco, which benefit from the influence of the warm Gulf Stream
and the lack of frosts.
Described as "a perennial Kew without the
glass", the gardens host 20,000 exotic plants from 80 countries, ranging
from Brazil to New Zealand and Burma to South Africa.
The gardens were
founded by plant collector and botanist Augustus Smith in 1834 on a site adjacent
to St Nicholas Priory which had fallen into disrepair in the sixteenth century.
Only the ruined arches and walls remain.
Today the garden boasts
rare palms, cacti, succulents and exotic plants from Brazil to Burma, and Chile
to the Canaries, which can be seen nowhere else in Britain.
Amongst the garden's magnificent trees is the metrosideros with
its huge bright red flower, more usually found in Hawaii.
is a giant natural greenhouse - even in the Winter more than 300 plants can be
seen in bloom.
As well as the flowers, the gardens are home to the rare
Prickly Stick Insect and the Smooth Stick Insect, which came from New Zealand
in the early 20th Century.
These masters of camouflage are amongst the
longest insects in the world, usually found in tropical or subtropical areas.
Photos - courtesy of Scilly Tourism.