England, UK, Wanderlust

Walking St Mary’s, Isles of Scilly

Between our jaunts to the other inhabited Scilly Isles on our Calypso and glass bottomed boat tour, we had a couple of days to explore St Mary’s, the island where we were staying.

The biggest and most populated of the five Isles of Scilly – still less than 2.5 square miles and 1,800 population (the Isle of Wight is 150 square miles, by comparison) – it’s still far from busy, but with plenty to explore.

A signpost against the blue sky on St Mary's - walking St Mary's Isles of Scilly with my daughter on our family holiday

And armed with a map and a couple of treasure trails, courtesy of Tregarthen’s Hotel, we spent two days checking out the beaches, clifftop walks, and small towns.

Depending how fast you go, you can walk the whole way around the island in five to seven hours (or cycle, if you’re happy with hills). With a three-year-old, this was never going to be likely, although I reckon we managed to cover over half – not too shabby.

Map showing footpaths around St Mary's island - walking St Mary's Isles of Scilly with my daughter

There are also five suggested walking routes on a leaflet we picked up in the tourist office lasting from one hour to around two and a half hours. You could see The Garrison in the far west, head right over to ancient burial chambers in the east and north or discover the vineyard of Holy Vale in the centre.

There’s also the Carreg Dhu sunken quarry garden with its subtropical plants, which we managed to miss on both days.

Our first, rather rainy day took us around Hugh Town to Porthcressa Beach as well as a quick glimpse of the quay and over to Old Town, with its lovely church.

Our second longer wander retraced a few of our steps around Peninnis Head over to Old Town and along the cliff path towards Giant’s Castle and some teetering rocks.

Parts of the cliffpath are manageable with a buggy but in a lot of places, it’s simply too narrow. If you’ve got a baby, you’re much better with a carrier – as Minnie was old enough to walk a lot of the way, she scrambled along solo as I hoisted the buggy over some of the trickier bits.

We also spotted tiny rocky coves, crossed the edge of the airport runway, found a good spot to fly a kite and marvelled at the carpet of purple and yellow flowers on this windswept spot.

As it took a bit longer to walk than we’d thought (and the bits where nothing’s marked on the map really do have nothing there!), we ditched our original plan to see some of the burial chambers and headed inland at Porth Hellick.

Country lane on St Mary's - a walk, cycle or golf buggy trip is one of my 16 things to do in the Isles of Scilly with kids

Here there’s a nature trail under the trees, with hides for birdwatchers and a helpful wooden path for me to push the buggy. It leads up to Holy Vale, but we detoured towards Normandy and over to the east coast for lunch at Carn Vean tea garden.

Then back through the centre of the island for some beach time for Minnie, who had had quite enough of walking or being pushed by this stage. Fortunately there are lots, starting with Porthloo beach before an unintentional detour took us past a duckpond, and back round to pretty Porthmellon beach.

From here, only slightly footsore, we were minutes from Town beach, the quayside and our hotel for a very well-deserved drink and sit down.

Although we had a great day out exploring, I slightly regretted not having a golf buggy for parts of it as we kept running out of time to see places like Pelistry Bay, Juliet’s Garden restaurant or the Carreg Dhu garden. But if we had, we wouldn’t have been able to explore all the coast path though… Evidently, I need a return visit.

For more ideas of things to do on the islands, check out my top 16 things to do with kids, as well as walking St Mary’s Isles of Scilly


Walking St Mary's Isles of Scilly, UK with my daughter - a path takes you around the island in five to seven hours, passing coast, beach and countryside, as well as ancient sites, a vineyard, perfect kite-flying terrain and sand galore. #scilly #islesofscilly #walkingscilly #scillywithkids #mummytravels

Disclosure: My trip to the islands was courtesy of Tregarthen’s Hotel and Isles of Scilly Travel. All opinions and ability to get lost while holding a map are my own.

Images copyright MummyTravels