I love the Isles of Scilly and have many stories to tell of my time filming there, from sunken treasure ships to its fascinating wildlife. I will also talk about my long career in television from Newsround to Countryfile.John Craven OBE
See the beautiful gardens and native wildlife of the Isles of Scilly with John Craven
These beautiful islands are known for their peace and tranquility - a quiet haven where you're truly spoilt by gorgeous lush gardens, beautiful sea views and rich wildlife.
Come along on this action-packed six-day trip and you can discover this unique destination for yourself - it's no surprise that visitors are drawn back by its charms year after year. You'll tour many of the archipelago's loveliest locations, including a guided visit to Tresco Abbey Gardens (often referred to as 'Kew without the glass') and its vast array of sub-tropical plants.
Here, you'll find many species of wildlife that you won't find anywhere else in the UK. On hand to help you learn more about them is the Chief Executive of the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust, Julian Branscombe, who will join you one day to explore, and for dinner and a talk. Countryfile presenter John Craven OBE will also spend a day with you, and will attend dinner one evening to talk about his career and hold a Q&A session.
You'll be based at the Star Castle Hotel on St Mary's, which dates back to the sixteenth Century, and enjoy delicious meals prepared in the kitchen from the freshest local ingredients - you might even get to enjoy catch of the day for dinner. The hotel has peaceful secluded gardens and a heated indoor pool, perfect for your downtime in between excursions.
Please note this is a full and busy itinerary, so a good degree of mobility is required to get the most out of this trip, which involves lots of walking and getting in and out of boats.
Reasons to book
Visit Tresco Abbey Garden
Stay in an historic hotel
Exclusive events with John Craven OBE
Hear from Julian Branscombe
Your expert guide
- Full services of a tour manager throughout the tour
- Five nights' accommodation at the four-star Star Castle, St Mary's
- Five breakfasts
- Lunch at a local pub on St Agnes
- Lunch on Bryher at the Hell Bay Hotel
- Lunch on St Martins
- Three dinners at the hotel
- Dinner and talk with John Craven OBE
- Dinner and talk with Mike Nelhams, Curator of Tresco's Abbey Gardens
- Dinner and talk with Julian Branscombe, CEO, Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust
- Guided tour with Julian Branscombe
- Return ferry from Penzance to St Mary's
- Boat transfers between the islands
- Guided visit to Tresco Abbey Gardens
- Guided walk on St Agnes
- Wildlife cruise from St Agnes
- All entrance fees
Day1St Mary'sSt Mary's, Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom
Today you'll arrive at Penzance and meet your tour group at the departure terminal for the Scillonian ferry. Here you'll meet your expert tour manager, who will greet you and assist you with check-in.
Once you arrive on St Mary's, you'll make your way to The Star Castle Hotel, your home for the next five nights.
After check-in, take some time to explore the headland of Hugh Town, with its shops, cafés, galleries, restaurants and pubs, before joining a welcome meeting later in the afternoon.
Day2St Martin'sSt Martin's, Scilly Isles, United Kingdom
Today you'll explore the lovely isle of St Martin's, where you'll discover the island's ruggedly beautiful shoreline. Little St Martin's is just two miles long but boasts some of the finest beaches in the British Isles.
You'll have lunch at the St Martin's Karma Hotel, in its AA acclaimed two-Rosette Cloudesley Shovell restaurant. Here you can be sure of the freshest of fresh seafood. You can even watch the fisherman bring in the daily catch of lobster and crab straight from the crystal waters on the hotel's doorstep.
After lunch, you'll pay a visit to St Martin's Vineyard, a unique coastal vineyard and winery working towards organic production of white, red and rose wines.
Day3BryherBryher, United Kingdom
Today you'll take the boat to beautiful Bryher where lunch has been arranged at the luxury Hell Bay Hotel. Bryher is an island of exciting contrasts. On one side you have the roaring Atlantic Ocean and a rugged coastline, while on the other side, you'll find tranquil waters and powder-soft beaches.
Hell Bay is on the Atlantic side, and from here you can watch as dramatic waves thunder into the bay. The restaurant at Hell Bay Hotel is one of the best-rated in the Isles of Scilly. You'll tuck into award-winning dishes at the hotel bar, which use the finest ingredients from the Isles of Scilly, Cornwall and the wider West Country.
Day4St AgnesSt Agnes (Scilly Isles), United Kingdom
This morning, following another hearty breakfast, you'll make your way to the jetty and hop on the ferry transfer to St Agnes, where you'll take a guided walk around the island's coastline.
There's plenty to see along St Agnes' coast, from rocky outcrops on its exposed west side to paradise beaches in its sheltered coves. There's a sandbar that links St Agnes with the tiny neighbouring island of Gugh, where you'll find white sand and crystal-clear water.
You'll tuck into lunch at a local pub before taking a fascinating marine wildlife cruise, where you have a chance to spot some of the special animals and birds who call the Scillies home.
Day5TrescoTresco, United Kingdom
After breakfast, you'll meet your tour manager and your guide for the day. You'll make your way to the jetty and take the boat transfer to Tresco, where you'll visit the world-famous Tresco Abbey Garden, home to a collection of some 20,000 plants from 80 countries.
The garden was established in the 19th century around the ruins of an old Benedictine Abbey and is now home to a fantastic variety of plants from all over the world, including Brazil, New Zealand and South Africa. The garden changes throughout the year as different species thrive. In spring, flowers bloom here weeks before they do on the mainland, thanks to the Tresco's special sub-tropical climate.
Day6DepartureSt Mary's, Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom
After your final breakfast at The Star Castle, you'll enjoy some free time on St Mary's before taking the Scillonian ferry back to Penzance.
Star Castle is located on the island of St Mary's and offers a prime opportunity to explore the rest of the islands in the archipelago.
Explore Porthcressa Beach and Peninnis Head, or cross the airfield runway to the ancient burial site at Porth Helick.
By plane: Skybus flights to St Mary's from Newquay (30 minutes), Exeter (1 hour) or Lands End (15 minutes). The hotel is a 7-minute drive from the airport. Book Skybus.
By boat: the Scillonian Ferry leaves from Penzance (March to November) and takes 2 hours 45 minutes. The hotel is a 3-minute drive (or 10-minute walk from the ferry terminal). Book Scillonian Ferry.
CHARACTER & STYLE
A castle dating back to the 16th Century, Star Castle was converted into a hotel in 1933. The Francis family took over in 2003, and these days it's a charming family-friendly retreat. Original features have been retained to preserve its history.
Expect the warmest welcome on arrival. Facilities include two award-winning restaurants, a bar, a heated indoor pool and tennis court. There's a boatman who visits daily to offer day trips to the other islands.
- Free Wi-Fi
Choose to stay in one of the characterful beamed guest bedrooms or the cottage-style garden rooms and suites which offer a sea (or harbour) view. Rooms are light and welcoming, providing space to relax and enjoy the views.
Room types: Guard Room, Castle Room, Superior Castle Room, Family Room, Garden Room, Garden Suite, Superior Garden Suite
Key amenities: ensuite bathroom with toiletries, hairdryer, tea and coffee-making facilities, TV, free Wi-Fi
FOOD & DRINK
Menus change daily, using fresh, seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. There's a focus on seafood and quality wines. The freshly caught lobsters and crabs, brought in daily with a selection of house vineyard wines, are an absolute treat for the tastebuds!
The Castle Restaurant: fine dining, locally caught seafood, kitchen garden produce. Open Mar-Nov for breakfast and dinner.
The Conservatory: al fresco dining, open Apr-Oct for breakfast and dinner.