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An afternoon round St. Mary’s

20 October 2012

Our first blog post has finally landed!  Today we packed a picnic and set off from the Wheelhouse in the glorious midday sun on a walk around the shoreline of St Mary’s.  It’s a superb circular walk, taking in all the nooks, crannies, bays, inlets and headlands of the St. Mary’s coast.  It’s best done at a leisurely pace over a whole day – there are plenty of stopping off points for a picnic, a swim or a cream tea.

We chose to do the walk in a clockwise direction, so from the Wheelhouse we cut across to the Strand and followed the road past Town beach.

Town beach at low-tide – the Scillonian’s in and still plenty of boats in the harbour.

From Porthmellon we took the coastal path through the boatyard and up past Juliet’s Garden.  From there we headed through the five-bar gate and walked along the tops of flower fields along a bracken and bramble filled path, where there are still plenty of small wild blackberries, until we reached the rocky outcrop that is Carn Morval Point.

We continued along the craggy path, watching our footing on the ups and downs, past the open grassy slope at Bant’s Carn burial chambers and down to Pendrathen.  This is a charming rocky bay, with a small quay and an interesting boatyard – it’s one of Jen’s favourite parts of the walk.  From here we continued along the autumnal bracken-filled path until reaching a small pine woodland.  It took us down to the sand dunes and marram grass, where we stopped to venture on to Bar Point, St. Mary’s most northerly point.

Bar point – views of Samson, Bryher and Tresco.

Bar point is a beautiful white sandy beach, with panoramic views of the islands to the north: Samson, Bryher, Tresco, St, Martin’s and the Eastern Isles.  It’s a great spot for a paddle and shell collecting.  The beach was deserted and after a tea break we headed on along the coastal path with its orangey autumn colouring.

Coast path between Bar Point and Watermill Cove

The path leads to Watermill Cove.  We stopped for our picnic on a bench overlooking Watermill. The views were great and the sandwiches tasty!

Watermill Cove – not a bad view for a lunch break!

Post lunch we headed down to the Cove itself, but the stream was flowing quickly and Dan ended up ankle deep in mud.  It was well worth it though.

Looking out towards the eastern isles we hugged the shoreline until we came to a broad sandy beach of Pelistry Bay.  Just off the beach is a little island, Tolls Island.  As it was low tide, Tolls Island was easily accessible, and we headed across to get the best vantage point of Great Arthur and the other Eastern Isles.  There was a friendly seal in the Bay that popped up to say hello.

Pelistry Bay

From Pelistry we opted for the off-road approach, and hopped from one rock to the next (Dan’s favourite part!).  There were some great rock pools along the way.

On a rock in the sun

We rejoined the coastal path just before reaching Deep Point, which looked stunning in the glistening sun.  A few locals were on the flat granite rocks fishing.

Deep Point

Past Deep Point we continued over the downs until we came to Porth Hellick.  Here the Loaded Camel guards the entrance to the bay.

Porth Hellick and the Loaded Camel

The next part of the walk took us past St. Mary’s airfield, just below the landing strip, and down past Porth Minnick beach (excellent for glass collecting) where we enjoyed splendid views over towards Pulpit rock.

Pulpit rock from Tolman Point

Back off the beach we headed along the track to Tolman Point.  We stopped here to sit in the sun for a while before heading on to Old Town.  Old Town bay looked great with the low tide and blue sky.

Old Town bay at low tide

We geared ourselves up for the final stretch of our walk, around Peninnis Head.  This is probably our favourite stretch of coastline on St. Mary’s, and a walk we do regularly, although usually in the other direction.  The granite rock formations are amazing and have strange sculptural quality.

Granite formations at Peninnis

Peninnis lighthouse and tooth rock

With Porthcressa in sight, we tumbled along the path overlooking the neat and tidy allotments, and made it back to the Wheelhouse with the sun still shining some five hours after setting off.

Porthcressa in sight – homeward bound!

We were definitely ready for a nice cuppa when we got back home.  It was lovely walk, strenuous enough to feel like we’d worked off breakfast but not so bad that we couldn’t make it up stairs afterwards!

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