Stylish and cosmopolitan
Tresco is Scilly’s privately-owned island, and that sense of exclusivity extends to the sophisticated cafés, art gallery and spa. But for many visitors, Tresco is best defined by the Abbey Garden: its world-renowned, 19th century garden, home to some 20,000 sub-tropical plants.
Like anywhere on the Isles of Scilly, though, Tresco also has its share of beaches, panoramas and secluded spots. Pentle Bay is especially peaceful, the rugged north-east coast boasts historic forts named for both sides of the English Civil War, and the view from New Grimsby as the setting sun dips behind Bryher has inspired any number of paintings.
Things to see and do
Explore the Abbey GardenAs well as its world-famous plant collection, the Abbey Garden’s walled network of pathways and sculptures means there’s a surprise around every corner. You don’t have to be an avid gardener yourself – or even a grown-up – to appreciate the sheer variety of sights, textures and aromas. There’s even a museum of shipwrecked figureheads. Abbey Garden, Tresco 01720 424108
460 years of military historyMany of Tresco’s historic monuments hint at the islands’ strategic importance. Some date to the English Civil War – with forts named for both Cromwell and King Charles – and earlier still, with 16th century defences against potential French and Spanish invasion. More recently, a sea plane base at New Grimsby protected First World War shipping from U-boat attack. www.tresco.co.uk/the-island/historic-monuments/
Boat, dinghy and kayak adventuresTresco is the perfect gateway to many of the Isles of Scilly’s uninhabited islands and deserted coves. Hire a boat or kayak from the Sailing Centre beside Ruin Beach Café, and with luck you could have Teän or St. Helen’s – arguably Scilly’s finest panoramic view – completely to yourself. You may even find yourself followed by a curious seal. Raven’s Porth, Tresco 01720 424919
Walk around the islandIf you really want to get to know Tresco intimately, it’s perfectly possible to walk all the way around the island’s coast in a few hours. Or, if you’d like a guide, there are a great selection of organised wildlife walks and local experts who can offer a guided tour, pointing out local nature and history.
Hire a bike… or a golf buggyFor some, walking feels a little slow. That’s no problem: bicycles are available to hire on the island, giving you a much faster way to explore Tresco, in a virtually traffic-free environment. Or if that seems a touch strenuous, opt for one of the island’s golf buggies; it’s great fun. Contact the Flying boat club, New Grimsby, Tresco 01720 422849
Day trips on Tresco
Tresco’s Abbey Garden is one of the Isles of Scilly’s most popular day trip destinations. Simply disembark from the Scillonian III, catch an inter-island boat to Tresco, and a few minutes later you’ll arrive a short walk from the Garden. You’ll have up to three hours to explore before making the return trip or, if you’re a real garden enthusiast, a Fly+Sail trip would give you even more time.