Tag Archives: Isles of Scilly

Animated Rocks (6)

On the southern shores of Bryher (Isles of Scilly) you might encounter this strange rock formation/ My early reaction was that it possessed an ‘extra-terrestrial’ quality. I have known it henceforth as ‘E.T’!

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Animated Rocks (3)

The Isles of Scilly, situated 30 miles off the southwest tip of Cornwall, form an area of outstanding natural beauty. An interesting feature of the landscape is the number of granite outcrops that take on the form of naturally sculpted mysterious creatures or characters. Could this be a prehistoric ‘amphibian’?

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Room with a view

 

During our recent holiday on Tresco, one of the Isles of Scilly, we were fortunate to have accommodation that looked out across the channel separating Tresco from Bryher.   The crossing of the channel at the times of the Spring tides was shown in an earlier post.  (See    https://lagill6.wordpress.com/2018/10/23/spring-tide-adventurers/)

The first photo shows the view from the lounge  The second and third were taken from the patio and show the views to the left and right.   In the second photo it is just possible to see the top of the steps leading from the patio to the beach/

 

 

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Early Autumn among the dunes of Tresco

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Spring tide adventurers

 

The Isles of Scilly include five, small inhabited islands, four of which once formed a single larger island (the exception was St Agnes).  But around 3000 years ago rising sea levels divided the land and created the present formation.

The channel between Tresco and Bryher is normally very busy with boats ferrying tourists and residents between islands as well as providing anchorage for visiting yachts.  But four or five times a year, for a short while on three or four consecutive days, the sea bed is exposed.  It is the time of the Spring tides  –  a time when it is possible to walk between Tresco and Bryher and, indeed, between Tresco and St Martin’s.  For those whose holiday happens to coincide with a Spring tide the walk is often high on their ‘things I must do’ list.

 

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Prima Donna and chorus line

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January 19, 2018 · 8:00 am

Natural tapestry

There seems to be a suggestion of tapestry design in this image of lichen photographed on a rock on St Agnes in the Isles of Scilly.  The natural pattern is recorded as found.  The only licence taken has been the removal of the texture of the granite rock to reveal the pattern more clearly..

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Cascading waves

Using watercolour filter

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St Martin’s, Isles of Scilly

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On a Tresco stone wall

On Tresco (one of the Isles of Scilly) the air is so pure and the mild climate so conducive to growth that lichen and plants root themselves quite happily in the dry stone walls.

 

Click the image to enlarge

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Stormy weather in Tresco Chanel

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The lure of the Isles of Scilly

It is rare, on the Isles of Scilly, to meet someone who is visiting for the first time  –  and if you do, it is likely the ‘first timer’ will return again and again.  The islands are a Designated Area of Natural Beauty and in an age of hustle and bustle their tranquility provides a magical release, a ‘massaging of the soul’.  The picture below (together with several of my posts in recent weeks) explains something of the lure of the Isles.

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Tresco Abbey Gardens

Tresco Abbey Gardens enjoy an international reputation and are particularly noted for the collection of subtropical plants and trees.  There are 20000 plants and it is claimed that more than 300 will be in flower on any day in the year.  There are plants from South America, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and S E Asia.  Many of the plants could not survive in Cornwall, just 30 miles away.

The garden was initially created by Augustus Smith.  In 1834 Smith was granted a long term lease for the Isles of Scilly by the Duchy of Cornwall and became Lord Proprietor.  He  built his home amid the ruins of a priory  –  hence Tresco Abbey.

Smith was an enthusiastic gardener and recognised the possibilities offered by the mild climate of the Scilly Isles.  He maximised this potential by constructing walls and terraces and by planting trees to protect his plants from the excesses of any Atlantic gales.

Augustus was a bachelor and when he died his estate was inherited by his nephew, Thomas Algernon Dorrien-Smith.  Successive generations of Dorrien-Smiths have, to this day, each made a significant contribution to the development of the Gardens.

With so much to choose from, I hope the following selection will suffice as an appetizer!

See also The head in Tresco Abbey Gardens, Dreaming of Childhood and Shipwrecks and Valhalla

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Around the coast of Tresco

Tresco is the second largest island in the Isles of Scilly archipelago.  It measures approximately 2½ x 1 miles and has a resident population of 180.  This figure increases dramatically during the tourist season.  The island is primarily a holiday resort with many timeshare properties.  Cruise liners bring large numbers of visitors to visit the famous Gardens.  It is a car-free island.  Essential transport is provided by farm tractors and passenger trailers plus a few golf buggies for the disabled and elderly.

The attractions of Tresco are its natural beauty and its mild climate.  The southern half of the island is fringed by idyllic beaches of white sand.  The northern half comprises heathland and a rugged coast.

Isolated landmarks, such as Cromwell’s Castle (pictured below), Charles’ Castle and the Block House are reminders of the Island’s strategic importance in British history.

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The head in Tresco Abbey Gardens

The world famous gardens at Tresco Abbey on the island of Tresco in the Isles of Scilly, are bisected by a long straight path culminating in a flight of granite steps leading up to an imposing classical head.  The steps are known as Neptune’s Steps and seem to confirm a classical connection, but there is a double deception here.  Despite appearances, the head is not a stone sculpture but is made from wood, and the subject is not of classical origin but represents Father Thames.  It is, in fact, the salvaged figurehead of the SS Thames, a 500 ton paddle steamer that sank on the Western Rocks (just off the coast of St Agnes) in 1841.

The story of the loss of the Thames is tragic and is an example of the hardship and dangers experienced by seafaring communities in the 18th and 19th centuries.  The event was fully recorded by the minister of St Agnes at the time, the Rev George Woodley, and can be read on http://www.tresco.co.uk/what-to-do/abbey-garden/valhalla_thames.aspx

In a corner of the Abbey Gardens there is a museum of other figureheads from vessels wrecked in the waters around the Isles of Scilly.  It is known as Valhalla and I have written about it in a previous post (see https://lagill6.wordpress.com/2012/10/21/shipwrecks-and-valhalla/)

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Walking from Tresco to Bryher

The Isles of Scilly include five, small inhabited islands, four of which once formed a single larger island (the exception was St Agnes).  But around 3000 years ago rising sea levels divided the land and created the present formation.

The channel between Tresco and Bryher is normally very busy with boats ferrying tourists and residents between islands as well as providing anchorage for visiting yachts.  But four or five times a year, for a short while on three or four consecutive days, the sea bed is exposed.  It is the time of the Spring tides  –  a time when it is possible to walk between Tresco and Bryher and, indeed, between Tresco and St Martins.  For those whose holiday happens to coincide with a Spring tide the walk is often high on their ‘things I must do’ list.

Such an occasion occurred 10 days ago and the pictures below record the event, beginning with two or three ‘pioneers’ and developing into a steady stream.  (See also my post Isles of Scilly)

Click on each image to enlarge

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Old Man of Gugh

The substance of this post was originally published a year or so ago, but the lighting of the image has been modified a little to capture something of the mystery I associate with the Old Man.

Gugh is a small island in the Isles of Scilly off the south west tip of England.  It is one km long and 0.5km wide and is joined to the larger island of St Agnes by a sand bar.  As a consequence it is accessible only at low tide.  There are just two houses on Gugh.  The island has several entrance graves, cairns and burial mounds dating from the Bronze Age.  The Old Man of Gugh is a menhir (a standing stone) 2.7metres tall and belongs to that period.

I always see in this picture a tall old man with white beard, bracing himself against the strong Atlantic winds.  At the stroke of midnight he begins his steady walk of a watchman guarding his territory, returning to his post before the first cock crow.

There is more background information in my post The Isles of Scilly.

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More Scilly Rocks

Except for the Nag’s Head, included in yesterday’s selection, most of these rocks seem to lack any local name by way of identification.  Indeed, only two of the pictures  have appeared in any ‘gallery of images’ or literature about St Agnes that I have seen.  I find this very surprising.

In the absence of any acknowledged alternative, I have always referred to the first picture as the ‘Mysterious Feline’.  The second is a Troll-like fellow or, perhaps, a puppet.  In the third, I see a lizard (or similar creature) emerging in search of food or sensing danger.  The fourth is clearly a prehistoric tortoise!

Seren 12c

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Scilly Rocks

Several months ago, I wrote about the Isles of Scilly, located almost 30 miles off the south west tip of Cornwall:
‘In addition to their natural beauty and evidence of earlier cultures  –  such as the standing stone on Gugh and various cysts and burial chambers from the Bronze Age  –  the Isles have an air of mystery about them.  Especially St Agnes.  Granite outcrops suggest strange creatures from a fantasy or mythological world  –  giant lizards, serpents, turtles, birds of prey  ………   You are never alone on St Agnes!’

I am returning to the topic.  I have since remastered the original photos in an attempt to capture a little more of the magic and mystery of the rocks. I intend to post the results today and in my next post.  All of the pictures are from St Agnes.  The background context to the images can be found at The Isles of Scilly and The Two Faces of St Agnes.

The first image was not actually used previously. It is a natural outcrop, known locally as the Nag’s Head, and seems to have been used as a standing stone in the distant past. In my wife’s novel, Narwhal, it is the focal point for a pagan ritualistic dance.

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Dreaming of Childhood

The sculpture in this picture is David Wynne’s Children of Tresco and the work stands in the Tresco Gardens in the Isles of Scilly.  It is a wonderfully expressive sculpture, full of the fun and vitality of childhood.  For those of us who are older it evokes memories and smiles and encourages us to dream and fantasize about the days when we too could play with not a care in the world.

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