By: Blonde One
It’s very tempting to just tell this story through photographs but I will resist since the story is such a good one to tell.
Town Beach on the Isles of Scilly’s main island of St Mary’s is one of the least frequented by tourists and yet has the most fascinating history and is the best to watch the world go by from. The beach is right next to the harbour and so is the busiest in terms of working activity. I have spent many many days sat in the Blonde One family rented apartment, listening to Will on Radio Scilly, gazing out onto this beach, getting to know the comings and goings of the locals, their dog walking habits and their boating schedules. It was only right and fitting that our recent stay at the fabulous Mincarlo also looked out onto Town Beach. I never tire of watching the (Scilly style) hustle and bustle, as well as doing a bit of beach-combing (this one definitely has the most interesting spoils). You can find shells obviously, but also there are lots of fragments of beautifully smoothed and rounded pottery, often with a blue and white pattern.
There’s also so much to see down at the harbour from this beach. Every day you can watch the colourful tripper boats filling up and taking their excited passengers to the off-islands. You can also see the daily arrival of the Scillonian and watch the workmen busily unloading the passengers and the luggage-filled containers.
The Gry Maritha cargo boat comes into the island several times every week to replenish the supplies for the locals and businesses. She will carry her important life-lines throughout the winter and will sail in conditions that would send other boats running for dry dock! I have been on the island during a summer storm when the Gry arrived in harbour after a 14 hour crossing. It was great to see the locals put out signs and banners thanking the crew for making the trip.
When Blonde Two and I were invited on Richard Larn OBE’s Maritime St Mary’s walk as part of the Walk Scilly walking festival I was thrilled to find out some of Town Beach’s history. It is hard to imagine now but all along the Town Beach waterfront were ship building related activities and buildings including a big saw pit in which the young lads had to go below and get showered by sawdust as they sawed. Richard’s walk was fascinating and to find out that during the golden age of sail there could have been up to 1000 boats in the harbour amazed me.
This beach is well worth stopping to explore fully. There is time aplenty on the islands and I can’t think of a better way to spend some of it than sitting on Town Beach.
If you’re tempted to go and see for yourself, here’s how:
The nights might be drawing in, but autumn’s the perfect time to explore the wilder side of the Isles of Scilly at Walk Scilly Weekend. It’s a chance to experience the islands at their most magical and discover their wild beauty on a long weekend of themed, guided walks with experts who live and breathe Scilly.