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Tresco, Isles of Scilly – Part 1 - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Travelling

This is a little piece of Britain with just a hint of the Mediterranean. It’s here that you can head off the Cornish coast to enjoy a relaxing walk around one of the UK’s most peaceful getaways.

Tresco offers a true literal mini-break for although it is the second biggest of the Isles of Scilly, it measures just 3. 5km long by up to 1. 75km wide. However, the tiny numbers are deceptive. Somehow, like a TARDIS fashioned from Cornish granite, Tresco expands once you step ashore. Long walks are possible; there are plenty of activities; castles, coves, real ales, weird plants, seals and sunshine are abundant. The island’s lush undulations seem to mask its diminutive size and this gives you the impression that it is larger.

That said, Tresco’s smallness is one of its biggest draws especially as it is privately owned by the Dorrien Smith family. The island is home to around 150 permanent residents and there are no cars allowed, however, you can hire bicycles which come without locks as there’s no need for them. This is a place out of time, basically free of crime and traffic accidents, unless you have to get in front of a golf buggy or horse and cart. The Scillies are officially the warmest place in the British Isles. Visiting Tresco is like recalling one of those pleasant childhood summers we all misremember, the difference here is that it’s real.

Neolithic field systems suggest people visited this rock, 45km west of Land’s End, up to 10, 000 years ago, though permanent settlement came much later. Christianity arrived around the tenth century with the Benedictine priory was built in 1120. Subsequently, the Scillies were beset by smugglers and shipwrecks and Civil War battles. King Charles’ Castle and Cromwell’s Castle, constructed in the 16th and 17th centuries, can still be explored.

In 1834, the Duchy of Cornwall leased the Scillies to wealthy Hertfordshire squire Augustus Smith. He was known as The Emperor and became Lord Proprietor of the islands. He moved to Tresco, built schools, completely restructured the farming industry and brought prosperity to the archipelago. While the rest of the islands have returned to the Duchy, Smith’s descendants still own Tresco. They still live in his house, Tresco Abbey, which unfortunately means that it off limits to all the visitors.

However, the glorious garden that he created is open to everyone. This is where thanks to the Scillies’ temperate climate The Emperor was able to grow eye-catching species from around the globe. Amid the ruins of the 12th century priory, there are now South African king proteas and spiky Caribbean furcraea among the 20, 000 other plants surviving the Atlantic gusts. There many examples of plants here which cannot be grown anywhere else in the UK.

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Page added on: 11 April 2019
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