‘We seem to have slipped into another time’: a walking holiday on the Scilly Isles

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On a walking tour of this sparkling archipelago, Raynor Winn is transfixed by the views and the ‘otherness’

The morning had the bright clarity of perfect light, framing the landscape in stark relief against a clear blue sky. It was too perfect, one of those mornings that would soon be lost to rain. But as I looked out from the granite cliffs of Land’s End, I could see stark shapes interrupting the horizon between sea and sky. That was the first time I saw the Isles of Scilly, tiny black specks in the Celtic Sea, at the vast blue edge of the Atlantic Ocean. They disappeared into the rain of the day and I never saw them again. Not until today.

It has been 10 years since we walked the South West Coast Path. Ten years since that first sighting of Scilly, but it’s only now that we are finally leaving Land’s End, watching that familiar coastline grow smaller – me and my husband – heading to an unknown land and unwalked paths. But as we step on to St Mary’s, I begin to understand these islands aren’t so unfamiliar. The blocky granite stacks along the coastline of Scilly’s largest island echo those that surround the western tip of Cornwall. This outcrop of islands might be separated from the mainland by 28 miles of sea, but it’s firmly connected by granite.

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