ST MARY'S (Isles of Scilly)
Scattered 30 miles offshore from England’s most south-westerly point – Land’s End – the Isles of Scilly are home to rich wildlife, and green land sloping to powdery white beaches. The Isles of Scilly’s biggest island harbours around 1,600 people – roughly three-quarters of the total population - and is one of five occupied islands. Isolated and serene, life here hums along at its own pace in this archipelago's bubble, which enjoys the UK’s mildest climate, and some of its most spectacular beaches.
Hugh Town is the centre of St Mary’s, and you’ll be warmly welcomed by the incredibly tight-knit local community. A peaceful place, watch out when the waters are suddenly parted by the competition of gig racing – the island’s sporting pride and joy - which sees teams competing in colourful rowboats.
Elsewhere, catch sight of Atlantic seals and seabirds like puffins and fulmars, along nine miles of coastline. You can also spot the ghostly shipwrecks strewn around the island’s waters, and the 140 islands and skerries that have made treacherous sailing historically. There's a dense collection of historical sites that belies the islands’ small size – from a former prime minster’s grave to star-shaped fortresses. Tresco Abbey Garden is one of the UK’s most vibrant gardens, with diverse plants bathing in the warmer climate and over 300 species on display. Taste the rewards of the mild weather with a glass of wine from England’s most south-westerly vineyard.