Wednesday, 17 September 2014

A Weekend on Tresco, Isles of Scilly.

Despite Tresco being a tiny little island just off the coast of Cornwall (it's just 2.2 miles long and 1.09 miles wide), there is enough to do on the island to fill a weekend. On the Saturday I was on Tresco for the whole day, and filled my time completely in-between the food festival. On Sunday I was there just for the morning, before heading over to neighboring island, Bryher, in the afternoon. 

Tresco Isles of Scilly

The south half of Tresco is very accessible on foot, I started off at the New Inn, where I was staying, which is based in New Grimsby, and walked over to the Church, St Nicholas, visited my ancestors and relatives in the cemetery, and then walked to Old Grimsby. 

St Nicholas Church Tresco Isles of Scilly

Old Grimsby Tresco Isles of Scilly

Here I stopped to just look and take everything in, I took photos, breathed in the fresh air, then wandered back to the path that leads to the Tresco Abbey Gardens. Right on the corner next to the schoolhouse is Green, the house of my ancestors. Four generations of my family lived in this house from the 1800s to the 1900s, it was quite surreal to stop and stand in front of it. However, it really does sadden me that it's now a timeshare holiday property. It saddens me that there is no family living in it, making a life for themselves in it, and enjoying it as a home

Green House where the Woodcock family lived on Tresco Isles of Scilly

I then walked to the Abbey Gardens, just taking everything in and enjoying the change of scenery from the fast-paced London lifestyle. The walk to the gardens took about 20 minutes from Old Grimsby, and it was full of fields, views of the ocean and archipelago, and the gorgeous little fruit and veg stand with an honesty box. 

Tresco Isles of Scilly

View of Old Grimsby village on Tresco

Path to Tresco Abbey Gardens from Old Grimsby

Fruit and Veg stall on Tresco

While alone I filmed a few vlogs (more on this over the weekend), and then all of a sudden there were people around me and I realized I was at the Abbey Gardens already! I paid my £12 entrance fee (definitely well worth the cost!), and wandered in. It'd been years since I visited the gardens, but nothing had changed, there were still vibrant colourful flowers everywhere you walked and lush green foliage bedecking the walkways.

Tresco Abbey Gardens Isles of Scilly
Orange flower Tresco Abbey Gardens

Abbey Gardens on Tresco in Isles of Scilly
Statue in Tresco Abbey Gardens

Tresco Abbey Gardens

Tresco Abbey Gardens in Isles of Scilly

Tresco Abbey Gardens Scilly

The gardens were established by Augustus Smith in the early 1800's, and are home to over 300 plants from over 80 countries. Due to the sub-tropical climate of the Isles of Scilly, many tropical plants can flourish on Tresco even during winter, whereas in nearby Cornwall they would just die. My great great grandfather was a gardener in Abbey Gardens before he retired and ran the New Inn pub, so it's always lovely to walk around the garden, viewing tress and plants over a hundred years old that would have been there even when he was there to tend to them. 

Old Abbey in Tresco Abbey Gardens
Flowers in Tresco Abbey Gardens

Tresco Abbey Gardens history

Photograph of a Bee in Tresco Abbey Gardens

Purple flowers in Tresco Abbey Gardens Isles of Scilly

The gardens are home to many different types of wildlife, including the endangered Red Squirrel. I was secretly hoping to see one while on the island, but with less than 20 on Tresco, I wasn't expecting to. I was on my way out of the gardens, when all of a sudden I hear a loud scuffling sound next to me and look around to see the most stunning Red Squirrel happily eating a pine cone, it's great big bushy red tail proudly in the air, it's claws working with the cone to keep it steady.

Red squirrel in Tresco Abbey Gardens on Isles of Scilly

I quietly got my camera back out of my bag, switched the lenses around to attach my 300mm one, and started snapping. I started far away, then slowly edged closer inch-by-inch, holding my breath in fear of him suddenly scuttling away up the tree. He must have been hungry, because he stayed there for at least ten minutes while I took shot after shot, from all angles. Sadly because I was working with a 300mm manual lens and no tripod, quite a few were blurry or out of focus, but these are just a few of my favourites. But what I couldn't get my head around wasn't the obvious beauty of this creature, but how creepy their feet are!

Red squirrel Tresco Abbey Gardens on Isles of Scilly

Red squirrel eating in Tresco Abbey Gardens on Isles of Scilly

Caught red-handed! Geddit? ;) 

A lady suddenly came up behind me and he realized he was being watched, so satisfied that he had completed his meal, he scrambled up the tree into the canopy. Happy that I'd just spent a good ten minutes with one of the most endangered creatures in Britain, I wandered out of the gardens past Augustus Smith's Valhalla collection, and then round past the beach and back towards the New Inn. 

Anyway, the following morning after my Saturday night food festival experience, I had a very lazy morning sleeping in, and completely missed Church as I was too busy finishing my book, so I walked to Cromwell's Castle along the coastal path and then up to King Charles' Castle just above it.

Tresco coastal path looking across the sound to Bryher

The coastal path was simply breathtaking. The views were stunning. I was in awe the whole time. The coastal path is rugged and perilous (perilous may be a slight overstatement), my Dad told me to take walking shoes...I took flip flops. I managed to scramble over rocks and heath in my havaianas and sundress, climbing up mini-rock-mountains and risking falling into the ocean below to get down to the rest of the path. It was thrilling and so much fun! I had a whale of a time, and kept giggling to myself as I thought of how I used to relish scrambling over rocks on the beaches in Cornwall as a child.

Yellow flowers on Tresco coastal path

As I grazed my legs and knees on twigs and stone, I didn't even notice or particularly care. Being one of only two paths around the north end of the island, I thought of how my grandfather may have done what I'd done. Did he climb over that same rock scraping knees and grazing elbows? Did he run wild through the heath and bracken grinning as he went, just like I did? Did any of my Tresco ancestors do this? Maybe all of us did at some point in our lives. Maybe history was repeating itself. 

Looking out over Tresco and Bryher sound with boats in distance

Isn't this view just marvelous? The weather is funny on Scilly. Behind the camera was clear blue sunshine, in-front, mean looking grey clouds threatening to ruin my adventurous fun.

Tresco's rugged coastal path

Eventually I reached Cromwell Castle and with the wind howling around me, halting my videoing as I tried to keep my dress around my knees rather than around my neck, I climbed the half a millennia old stairs, treading carefully as I went. 

Cromwell castle Tresco

Inside of Cromwell Castle Tresco Isles of Scilly

After scaring myself witless being in a very old, cold, damp, and dark ruined castle, I decided to leave very quickly before the big monsters came out to get me. I started up the hill towards King Charles's Castle, an older castle that really is just ruins now, not even the outside of it remains in-tact. 

View from King Charles Castle Tresco Isles of Scilly

I find castles fascinating, but I do find it very difficult to see how ruins could have been all those hundreds of years ago. But, just look at that view! It looks like something from Pirates of the Caribbean, dontcha think?! 

View of the sound from King Charles Castle Tresco Isles of Scilly

I walked back to the New Inn the quick way - over the top of the island rather than the coastal path. The view of the surrounding islands was wonderful, and it only took 10 minutes to walk back instead of the half hour it took to get there! The north side of Tresco is very different scenically to the south, it's much more rugged compared to the lush green of the south.

I had a really lovely couple of days on Tresco, but I was really sad I didn't have time to see Piper's Hole - next time! Stay tuned for my post on Bryher and the Bryher Crab Shack tomorrow night!

King Charles Castle Isles of Scilly

View from Tresco Isles of Scilly

Heath on Tresco Isles of Scilly

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*I was a guest of Visit Isles of Scilly throughout my stay on the islands. To discover more about holidays and events on the Isles of Scilly, go to



  1. Beautiful pictures! :)

  2. Such pretty pictures. The red squirrels looks very cute.

    Anca @ ancaslifestyle | UK

    1. He was so cute, I just wanted to cuddle him!

      C x

  3. More gorgeous piccies - have failed so far with my dad trying to get some info, but will try again when he's less busy!!!

    Rosie xx

    1. Ah no worries, can't wait to hear if he knows anything!

      C x

  4. Tresco looks absolutely stunning, and I love the squirrel photos!

    Suze | LuxuryColumnist

  5. Those gardens are absolutely stunning. I can just imagine the quiet and serenity of being there x

  6. Looks so pretty and those squirrel photos are absolutely gorgeous! I'd love to make it to these islands one day or even Cornwall for that matter!

  7. What a beautiful place, thanks for sharing your post and those beautiful pictures!


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