Will Wagstaff is the islands' leading authority on birds, flowers and butterflies, and has led tours to destinations from the Isles of Scilly all the way to the Falkland Islands. He is also the local expert for the BBC's Wild Britain, Three Men in a Boat and This Morning.
Discover the stunning Isles of Scilly with Will Wagstaff
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The beautiful Isles of Scilly are only a short ferry ride off the coast of Cornwall, yet they still feel a million miles away. Just five of the islands are inhabited and only by 2,200 people, most of whom live on the largest, St Mary's, where you'll be based for five nights on this wildlife tour, exclusive to Country Living readers. You'll visit in autumn, one of the best times to see migrating wildlife, and be joined by the islands' leading expert, Will Wagstaff. He has been guiding tours there for more than 25 years and will give you a fascinating insight into their incredible habitat.
Explore St Mary's
The largest of the Scilly Isles, St Mary's has just nine miles of road, yet over 30 miles of walking and cycling trails. You'll explore its main settlement, Hugh Town, and enjoy a special dinner on your first night at the award-winning Juliet's Garden as well as one at the iconic Star Castle Hotel.
Expertise of Will Wagstaff
As well as knowing all about the distinctive wildlife, Will is knowledgeable about all aspects of island life, from archaeology to history, place names and shipwrecks. Will will guide you throughout, sharing his knowledge with you on walks and excursions, and will give a presentation about the islands.
Many species here - as well as the flora and fauna - can't be seen anywhere else in the UK. There are around 453 species of seabirds, waders and migrants, which can be spotted throughout the year including the oystercatcher, night heron, Manx shearwater and redstart, and autumn is the best time to see Atlantic grey seal pups.
You'll visit Tresco's stunning Abbey Gardens, home to 20,000 plants from over 80 countries and described as 'a Perennial Kew without the glass', as well as enjoying a seabird boat tour, guided walks with Will Wagstaff to see an array of wildlife and extraordinary coastal scenery, and visits to Bryher and St. Martin's islands.
Stylish hotel stay
St Mary's Hall Hotel is less than a five-minute walk from Hugh Town and Porthcressa Beach. It's an elegant townhouse with a Mediterranean feel and serves some of the best food on the island, which you'll enjoy as breakfast and dinner on three evenings at the hotel is included.
Reasons to book
Expert guiding from Will Wagstaff
Explore St Mary's
Dine at Juliet’s Garden
DB&B hotel stay
Your expert guide
- Return ferry from Penzance on the Scillonian III; flights at a supplement
- Five nights' stay with breakfast and dinner at the St Mary's Hall Hotel
- Talk and introduction to the Isles by Will Wagstaff
- Visit to Tresco with Will Wagstaff; entrance to Abbey Gardens
- Full-day excursion to Bryher
- Eastern Isles boat trip to look for the Atlantic grey seal colonies
- Boat excursion to spot seabirds with Will Wagstaff
- Visit to St Martin's to see some of the world's most unspoilt beaches
- All transport and transfers
- Services of a Prestige Holidays tour manager
Day1Welcome to the ScilliesSt Mary's, Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom
You'll arrive on beautiful St Mary's, the largest of the isles, and transfer to your home for the next five nights, the stylish but relaxed St Mary's Hall Hotel. The rest of the day is free for you to explore nearby Hugh Town or simply to relax and enjoy the hotel's terraced garden. In the evening, you'll take a gentle 15-minute stroll along the coast to enjoy a welcome dinner at the famous Juliet's Garden restaurant.
Day2Tresco and The Abbey GardensAbbey Gardens, Trusco, United Kingdom
After breakfast, you'll take the ferry across to the privately owned island of Tresco, where you'll have the first of our guided walks with special guest Will Wagstaff.
With Will as your expert guide, you'll explore the inland pools before crossing the island via farm tracks, keeping an eye out for the islands' distinctive wildlife. Lunch is at your leisure before, this afternoon, you enjoy a guided visit to the Abbey Gardens, home to more than 80 species of plants and flowers, many of which are seldom seen on the mainland. The windbreaks and walls built around the ruins of the priory make the Gardens a unique habitat; sometimes referred to as "Kew without the glass". You'll then take the ferry back to St Mary's for dinner at your hotel. Tonight you will enjoy an early dinner at the hotel before heading to the Church Hall for Will Wagstaff's presentation of the natural history of the Scillies and their distinctive flora and fascinating fauna.
Day3Island CruiseHugh Town, United Kingdom
After breakfast, you'll embark on a two-hour Seabird Special boat trip on the lookout for sea and shore birds, including puffins. You'll visit many of the rocks and islands where the various seabirds nest and roost, looking for as many different types of sea and shore birds as possible. A comprehensive commentary will be given by Will Wagstaff throughout the trip. Then you'll return to St Mary's and enjoy a guided walk from Town Beach to the Lower Moors before taking the coastal path back to Hugh Town, before dining at St Mary's Hall Hotel.
Day4Discover BryherBryher, United Kingdom
Today you will explore the island of Bryher, which is half a square mile in size and one of the Scillies' wilder islands. You'll experience contrasting landscapes with crashing Atlantic waves and granite stacks on one side, and calm glassy blue bays on the other.
You'll enjoy another fully guided walk with Will Wagstaff following along the scenic coastal paths and stopping again for lunch (not included). After returning back to St Mary's, you'll take a look at the small Castle museum, the old jail cell and take a walk along the ramparts with stunning views across to Bryher and Tresco.
This evening, you'll take a leisurely evening walk (15-20 minutes) to tonight's venue for your three-course dinner, served in the delightful Conservatory Restaurant at the iconic Star Castle Hotel.
Day5The Eastern IslesSt Martin's, Scilly Isles, United Kingdom
You'll set off on a one-and-a-half-hour cruise around the uninhabited Eastern Isles, where it's possible to see colonies of Atlantic grey seal colonies and a variety of seabirds. You'll land on St Martin's to explore the archipelago's northernmost island, notable for having some of the finest sand beaches in the world, before heading back by ferry to St Mary's. Your final dinner together will be served tonight at St. Mary's Hall Hotel.
Days6Farewell to the ScilliesPenzance, United Kingdom
After a leisurely breakfast you'll have some free time. Included your holiday are entrance tickets to the St. Mary's Museum which is open from 10am, so why not take this opportunity to explore the diverse collections on show? These include many materials sourced from shipwrecks, Romano-British artefacts, stuffed birds and local art. After this, meet back at the hotel reception for your transfer back to the quay in time for the return ferry to Penzance on the mainland.
St Mary's Hall Hotel
St Mary's Hall Hotel sits on the edge of Hugh Town on the island of St Mary's. Surrounded by Mediterranean gardens, the hotel is just two minutes from Porthcressa beach and occupies an elegantly refurbished townhouse. With 26 stylish bedrooms and a popular restaurant, St Mary's Hall Hotel is an excellent choice for a break in the Scillies.
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