Tresco Island in England

After St Mary's, Tresco is the most visited island in the Sealy archipelago, but whole ships of tourists manage to get lost on the two-square-mile island. It used to be the private domain of the Devon abbey of Tavistock, and Tresco still retains a monastic, somewhat privileged atmosphere. There are no inexpensive short-stay accommodations there like on St Mary's. Depending on the tide, boats stop at New Grimsby, halfway down the west coast, at the little quay in Old Grimsby on the east coast, or at the extreme southern point of Carn Near. Either way, you can walk to Abbey Gardens in minutes. In the park you can see the ruins of an abbey amid subtropical gardens, laid out in 1834.


You won't have to walk far to find great sandy beaches. One of the best is Appletree Bay, a short stroll from the south ferry landing at Carn Near. Old Grimsby, at the eastern end of the island, has a couple more sandy beaches that look out over a submarine-like cliff. There's another excellent sandy beach close to the Old Grimsby group of cottages on the west side of the island.


To the north the tidy fields of Tresco turn into heather and holly heath, and a narrow track runs along the coast to Charles Castle, built in the 1550s. Strategically positioned above the strait separating Tresco from Braicher, the castle was in fact poorly planned: its guns could not fire far enough, and in 1651 it gave way to the more defensible Cromwells Castle, of which today only a tower with loopholes remains, built at sea level next to a beautiful sandy bay.

Tresco Island recommendations

Apart from the exclusive Island Hotel in the centre of the island (closed November to mid-March) and the New Inn in New Grimsby, private homes are the only accommodation on the island. They are usually rented out for a week only, but you can ask if you can rent for a shorter period (usually no vacancies in July and August). For details contact Borough Farm or the Tresco Estate Office (closed in January). The New Inn has a restaurant with an expensive four-course menu. If you want a taste of fine dining, check out the Island Hotel's restaurant, where the speciality is fresh fish.


A salty wind blows across the islands, bringing the cries of seabirds, and despite the cold water, the shores and beaches are irresistible to holidaymakers. Other attractions include the greatest cluster of prehistoric finds in Cornwall, some stunningly shaped cliffs, and a host of flowers. Apart from tourism, the main source of income here is flower-growing, for which the constant climate and plenty of sunny days (the name of the islands means "sunny") are ideal. The abundance of wild flowers is even more interesting than the daffodil fields and the hills and roads are densely overgrown with duckweed, sea armeria, clover and poppies, not to mention the more exotic species of plants imported here by foreign ships.