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Isles of Scilly

Tour Code: GBR02

An 8-day birdwatching holiday to the relaxing and beautiful Isles of Scilly.

8 days from £995(flights not included) Land Only Price: £995 SRS: £75


The fabulous Isles of Scilly lie just a short distance from the south-west tip of Cornwall yet seem a world away from the mainland. Renowned as a staging post for migrant birds, the archipelago also boasts a fine selection of resident seabirds, is home to many Grey Seals, and supports a huge

  • Scenic boat journey from Penzance along Cornish coast
  • Enjoy Scilly’s white sandy beaches, turquoise seas & amazing granite forms
  • An extraordinary flora includes many species rarely seen on mainland
  • Exciting birdwatching includes residents, migrants & regular rarities
  • Grey Seals & seabird colonies (in spring)
  • Plenty of inter-island boat trips
  • Comfortable guesthouse accommodation serving tasty meals
  • A chance to observe the unique Scillonian way of life
  • Natural history walks, each day exploring a new area or island
  • Expertly escorted by Naturetrek’s Paul Dukes – a Scilly regular for 40 years!

Food

Breakfast included in holiday price only; allow approximately £30 per day for lunches and evening meals.

Accommodation

Comfortable guest house, all rooms with private facilities.

Northern Wheatear (Paul Marshall)

Northern Wheatear (Paul Marshall)

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Meet at Penzance; sail to St Mary's

Day 2/7 Natural history excursions on St Mary's, St Agnes, Tresco & St Martin's

Day 8 Excursion before afternoon return to Penzance

The fabulous Isles of Scilly are just 28 miles from Land's End, easily visible from the mainland on a clear day, and yet all the stresses of daily life seem to vanish within hours of reaching the islands. They are a supremely relaxing place to spend a holiday with decision making reduced to choosing which island to visit or which cafe to patronise.

The Scillonian population of approximately 2,000 is mostly concentrated on the largest island St. Mary's but small communities are also found on Tresco, St. Martin's, Bryher and St. Agnes. Flower farming is still a major source of income for the islanders but decreasing in importance as the traditional advantage of being able to supply early spring flowers to the market is negated by the mass import of blooms by air from places like Israel. As the flower industry diminishes, tourism is booming and the very high level of repeat bookings from one year to the next is evidence that few visitors are ever disappointed! It might even be advisable to issue a warning to all first time visitors stating that the islands are highly addictive and likely to feature in your holiday plans for many years in the future! Your leader for these tours was unaware of the risk when he first stayed on St. Agnes in 1966 and has been compelled to return at regular intervals ever since!

A passenger ferry, Scillonian III, sails from Penzance to St. Mary's each morning Monday-Saturday, returning later in the day. The cruise provides superb views of the West Cornwall coast from Newlyn to Land's End. It should be stated however that the stretch of sea between the islands and the mainland is where Atlantic swells meet the currents of the English Channel and the resulting turbulence can make the cruise an uncomfortable experience for poor sailors, particularly after recent gales. Fortunately, alternatives exist with a regular helicopter service from Penzance and the fixed wing Skybus flights from St. Just near Land's End. Both these options are more expensive than the boat but the journey time is reduced to 20 minutes. Limited Skybus services also operate from Bristol, Exeter and Newquay. The holiday price is calculated on the basis of travelling by sea but we will gladly book air travel from St.Just or Penzance at a supplementary cost (fares are subject to annual increases - we charge the difference between Scillonian III fare and the relevant air carrier).

Like most island groups, the Scillies have relatively few resident birds and the selection of nesting passerines is generally unremarkable although an abundance of confiding Song Thrushes is an exception to their national decline and some familiar mainland birds such as Dunnock and Blackbird exhibit a few island differences in the brightness of their plumage or in the case of the latter, tone of bill colour. The colonies of seabirds around the archipelago are however of national importance and include Shag, Storm Petrel, Manx Shearwater, Puffin and Kittiwake. At times of spring and autumn migration Scilly is host to an astonishing diversity of birds seeking temporary rest and food on the islands. Few of these travellers make landfall intentionally but like the Shetlands in the north, Scilly appears to be in exactly the right place to provide succour for disoriented migrants carried over the ocean by unfriendly weather systems. The global movements of migrant birds are still imperfectly understood but it exercises the imagination to understand how individuals from North America, Siberia and Southern Europe can arrive on Scilly in the same week as so often seems to happen in the autumn! In the spring the rarities tend to be of Mediterranean origin such as Bee-Eaters, Golden Orioles or rare herons but even then surprises are frequent and recent occurrences at this season have included Terek Sandpiper, Tree Swallow and Calandra Lark! The regular arrival of unexpected vagrants has boosted the Scilly bird list to nearly 400 species, an astonishing total considering the size of the islands and the paucity of resident birds.

Although the focus of this tour will be birds, Scilly can boast many other natural history attractions for visitors. The flora is of great interest and includes many rare species which flourish in the largely frost free climate. Because of these mild conditions it has been possible to fill the famous Abbey Gardens on Tresco with delicate exotic plants from all over the world creating a collection that could not survive in colder climes. The White-toothed or Scilly Shrew is found nowhere else in Britain and whilst mainland mammals such as Fox and Badger are absent from the islands, the population of Grey or Atlantic Seals is of international significance. Migrant moths and butterflies visit Scilly in much the same way that birds do and a period of light southerly winds can often bring scores of Clouded Yellow butterflies or Hummingbird Hawk Moths to the islands. Much rarer vagrants also occur and the same fast-moving Atlantic fronts which deposit Neotropical landbirds on Scilly can also carry over spectacular Monarch butterflies.

The itinerary for our our tour will be completely flexible to allow for weather conditions and local reports. There will be a reasonable amount of walking each day but this will be at birdwatching pace and punctuated by regular stops. Included in the tour price are four full day visits to 'off-islands' which will entail catching the 1015 tripper launch from St. Mary's returning 1600-1700. These vessels carry about 70 passengers and fully conform to EC safety regulations. The journey time from St. Mary's is about 20-25 minutes.

Tresco coastlineScilly scene (Pauline Blewitt)Walking clients (Clive Manvell)Scilly sceneryRuins on the Isles of ScillyRazorbill (Colin Brown)Oystercatchers (Colin Brown)Common Seal (Colin Brown)St AgnesEuropean Bee-eater (Pauline Blewitt)Looking for Dwarf Pansies on Bryher Island (Clive Manvell)Viola kitaibeliana, Bryher (Dawn Nelson)Iris sp. (Colin Brown)Shags, St Agnes (Colin Brown)Gannet (Colin Brown)St Agnes fish (Colin Brown)Dwarf Pansy (Colin Brown)Razorbills (Colin Brown)Turnstone (Colin Brown)St Agnes beachesGadwall (Colin Brown)Turtle Dove (Colin Brown)Whimbrel (Colin Brown)Common Snipe (Colin Brown)Song Thrush (Colin Brown)Solitary Sandpiper (Pauline Blewitt)Rock Pipit (Pauline Blewitt)Clouded YellowHummingbird Hawk-mothGrey SealPuffinsKittiwakeSong ThrushShagSt Mary's Harbour at dawn, St Mary's, Isles of ScillyHugh Town, St Mary's, Isles of ScillySt Mary's, Isles of ScillyAbbey Gardens, Tresco, Isles of ScillyOystercatchers
S.C.
Buckinghamshire
All very enjoyable. Excellent boat trip to visit the outer islands and view seals and seabirds. Whole trip was well planned and coordinated. Excellent, highly knowledgeable guide (Andrew Cleave) who was also good company and very helpful and amiable.
Mr & Mrs C
Leicestershire
Thank you once again for a most interesting and enjoyable holiday; a comprehensive experience of the Isles of Scilly. The success of this trip was particularly down to the excellent leader Andrew Cleave. His knowledge and insight are invaluable; a remarkable all round naturalist.
A.A.
Oxfordshire
Lovely small group and excellent trip leader.
V.A.
Oxfordshire
The fantastic knowledge, ability and infectious enthusiasm of our guide Andrew. Not only bird life & habitats, flowers' habitats, butterflies & moths, but also geology, archaeology and ice cream & chocolate cake.
M.R.
Devon
Naturetrek guide - A. Cleave was excellent. Excellent boat trips to see islands and flora and fauna. Walks around islands, identifying wildlife - the Scillies totally seduced me! The group was small and we all got on - so was very good socially too. It was absolutely great! Thank you.
M.D.
Derbyshire
I really enjoyed the whole experience. Andrew was brilliant - he is so knowledgeable and interesting. The group size was good too - not too big or too small. Each day was different and we explored as much of the Isles as was possible but it never felt rushed. There was always plenty of time but enough activity. I loved it! Walking, boat trips, beautiful scenery, bird-watching, botany, history, sunshine - fabulous!
E.K.
Surrey
Interesting trips to the four islands. The tour leader had very extensive knowledge.
S.H.
Flintshire
I wanted to see the Isles of Scilly landscapes and to learn about the birds and natural history and life on the islands. I was more than satisfied. I was particularly pleased that there was more walking than in most nature-based holidays. The leader, Andrew Cleave's, breadth and depth of knowledge of natural history and of the Scillies and his pleasant manner added so much to my enjoyment of the beautiful islands.
L.B.
Surrey
Great leader - Andrew was very knowledgeable and enthusiastic. Felt very looked after at all times.
A.B.
Devon
This was my first Naturetrek holiday and I chose a destination I knew a little as I wanted to try a wildlife holiday and also as a means to see more of the Scilly Isles. I certainly wasn’t disappointed (on either score!). The food in the bed and breakfast was of a very high standard. We visited a number of cafés during our excursions and this certainly added to the enjoyment of the holiday. Paul's knowledge of his subject and evident love of the islands was passed on to all of us on this trip and provided for a very happy week. Thank you.
Mr & Mrs G
Berkshire
Overall, the holiday met all our expectations and our trip leader was an excellent guide and host from dawn to dusk.
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DeparturesAvailableCost

Wed 9th May 2018 - Wed 16th May 2018

FULL

£995

more details

Flights: Flights are not included with this tourMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are limited. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £995 More info

Room sharing options: Male sharing is available More info

Sat 15th September 2018 - Sat 22nd September 2018

7

£995

more details

Flights: Flights are not included with this tourMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are limited. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £995 More info

Room sharing options: Male sharing is available More info

Visiting: United Kingdom

Can I help You?

Alison Steel
Operations Manager

Email Alison

01962 733051

Tour Focus

Birds

Tour Leaders

Tour Reviews

All very enjoyable. Excellent boat trip to visit the outer islands and view seals and seabirds. Whole trip was well planned and coordinated. Excellent, highly knowledgeable guide (Andrew Cleave) who was also good company and very helpful and amiable.
S.C., Buckinghamshire