By: Blonde Two
I do love walking.
You would imagine then, that the thing I would have enjoyed most about the Walk Scilly walking festival would have been the walking, but it wasn’t (although the walking was fabulous). The thing I enjoyed most about the Walk Scilly walking festival was the boating!
Scilly is ‘a sunken landscape’. For the uninitiated, this means that it is made up of islands, islands have water in between them. So, unless there are spring tides (when you can walk between certain islands), you have to get on a boat if you want to say, explore an uninhabited island, spot an osprey or go out for a posh dinner (we did all of these).
The off-island boats are run by the St Mary’s Boatmen’s Association and provide an element of adventure that you would not find on a walking festival in say the Peak or Lake Districts.
The water between the islands (we were based on St Mary’s) appeared to a bit on the bouncy side for most of our trips. Blonde One assures me that sometimes the rides are smooth and involve hanging over the side to take photos. I did plenty of hanging but mostly it was onto the bench so that I didn’t slide off.
I have two favourite trip memories:
Tean (pronounced ‘tea’ ‘ann’) is an uninhabited island and visiting it involves a beach landing. Instead of driving to the car park at the beginning of the walk, we Blondes had to:
1. Get on an off-island boat at St Mary’s quay.
2. Enjoy a bouncy ride to Tean.
3. Take our shoes and socks off.
4. Roll our trousers up.
5. Climb into a small, red RIB.
6. Climb out of the small red RIB.
7. Paddle to shore.
8. Reassemble our footwear.
As you can imagine, this made for great excitement and lots of laughter. The process was reversed for the return journey and I would love to do it again.
My second favourite trip memory involves a quick turn around on St Mary’s quay. We had an all day trip to Tresco and then dinner at the Karma Hotel on St Martin’s. This was the plan:
1. Arrive at the quay in walking gear.
2. Leave girl-clothes in the quayside lockers.
3. Get on the boat to Tresco.
4. Explore all day.
5. Get on the boat back to St Mary’s.
6. Have 30 minutes to change.
7. Get on the boat to St Martin’s.
8. Enjoy a gourmet foraging dinner looking serene and stunning.
9. Get on the boat (in the dark) back to St Mary’s.
10. Walk up to the very smart Star Castle Hotel still looking serene and stunning.
What actually happened was much more Blonde!
1. Arrived at St Mary’s quay confused as to what we had actually put in our girl-clothes bag.
2. Left girl-clothes in the quayside lockers.
3. Got on the boat to Tresco.
4. Explored all day.
5. Got on the boat back to St Mary’s (on time).
6. Discovered the boat was visiting Bryher to pick up more people.
7. Discovered the boat was turning around to go back for two people stranded on Tresco because they got the return time wrong.
8. Arrived (slightly hysterical) back at St Mary’s quay with five minutes to spare, and wet, sea salty hair.
9. Grabbed girl-bag of clothes and jumped (not literally) on the St Martin’s boat.
10. Volunteered to start walking across St Martin’s to the hotel because the tide necessitated a landing on the other side.
11. Arrived at the serene and stunning Karma Hotel looking anything but!
12. Spent some time in the cloakroom trying to look slightly less dishevelled.
13. Discovered that 50% of the people at the dinner looked as sea-washed as we did. (Realised that the other 50% look serene and stunning).
14. Thoroughly enjoyed a gourmet foraging dinner and forgot the salty hair.
15. Walked down the slip in the dark and got on the (most impressively handled) boat back to St Mary’s (in a thunderstorm).
16. Arrive at the very smart and moonlit Star Castle Hotel still giggling and very exhilarated.
I would love to go back to the Isles of Scilly and do both of these trips all over again, but I have the feeling that this is definitely a case for my favourite motto, “You’ll never have that moment again.” Both (and indeed all) of our off-island boat trips were fantastic. A big thank you to the St Mary’s boatmen for their skill and sense of humour.