Magic on our doorstep! Puffins, seals, uncommon birds – the Isles of Scilly are a present of nature, says TV star Ray Mears

  • Ray Mears travelled to the Isles of Scilly to study its nature initiatives
  • He noticed Scilly’s well-known Atlantic Gray seals throughout a ship journey together with his spouse
  • The couple stayed at Star Fort Lodge, which has its personal moat and dungeon

Ray Mears For The Each day Mail

The primary time I travelled to the Isles of Scilly was to movie an episode of Wild Britain. We sailed over from Penzance on the Scillonian ferry and I assumed, blimey, how has it taken me so lengthy to find this superb place?

Six years later, I’m more than pleased to return. This time, it was from Newquay on a Twin Otter aircraft that supplied stupendous views of the Cornish shoreline.

Once we dipped into land, the rocky outcrops of St Mary’s appeared to be approaching so quick it drew yelps from not less than half my fellow passengers — a consequence of the runway sitting proper on the sting of the island.

Lolling around: The Scillies’ famous Atlantic Grey Seals

Lolling around: The Scillies’ famous Atlantic Grey Seals

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Lolling round: The Scillies’ well-known Atlantic Gray Seals

I’m right here to seek out out extra concerning the island-based nature initiatives such because the SeaBird Restoration Mission, which is working to safeguard the seabird colonies on the islands.

This implies retaining them freed from rats and enabling uncommon birds, such because the Manx Shearwaters, to breed. It’s a superb scheme that’s even supported by among the island’s youngsters, whose job is to handle bait bins.

It’s uncommon to seek out ten-year-olds so well-informed about learn how to odor a rat however fantastic to see a pure wildlife undertaking being pioneered on the frontline by youngsters who’re on the market taking care of nature, slightly than plugging themselves into cell phone screens.

Becoming a member of a workforce from Scilly’s Wildlife Belief for a ship journey, we spot cormorants, shags, razorbills, fulmars and guillemots.

My spouse, Ruth, has by no means seen puffins earlier than and it’s eagle-eyed John — one of many Belief’s workforce of volunteers — who factors out their comically crimson payments, as they fly low over the water between Annet and St Agnes.

We handle to slot in a sighting of a good variety of Scilly’s well-known Atlantic Gray seals, too. Superb to observe two of those mighty creatures stretched out within the solar, squabbling over a dry piece of rock because the tide rises and threatens to power them proper again into the water.

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We’re staying on the Star Fort Lodge, which is actually a star-shaped fortress courting again to Queen Elizabeth I, even with its personal moat and dungeon (now a comfortable bar).

Eagle-eyed: Ray (above) gears up for some birdwatching

Eagle-eyed: Ray (above) gears up for some birdwatching

Eagle-eyed: Ray (above) gears up for some birdwatching

It’s wealthy with historical past and royal connections. In 1643, it sheltered the Prince of Wales, who went on to develop into Charles II and it was additionally the final stronghold of the Cavaliers. Extra not too long ago, our personal Prince Charles has been identified to go to in his capability as head of the Duchy of Cornwall and I’m advised that Camilla loved a glass of chardonnay and a lobster lunch on the Fort’s winery throughout an official go to solely a few years in the past.

The resort sits proper on the prime of St Mary’s, constructed to maintain an eye fixed out for intruders.

Now, the one invaders are those that march as much as the highest of the hill of a night and march down once more, after probably the greatest dinners on Scilly.

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Throughout the islands, there’s all types of vegetation and bugs, all the pieces from South African Hottentot figs thriving up on the Garrison to uncommon bugs like red-barbed ants.

Simply these unique vegetation and the outdated gun emplacements on the Garrison and all of the squeaky white sand seashores, you could possibly be forgiven for pondering you had been in Jamaica. However dip a toe into that clear blue sea and it’ll quickly convey you again to actuality; it might seem like the Caribbean however Scilly sea temperatures are decidedly British.

I want I’d found these islands sooner. I discover lots of people go there 12 months after 12 months and don’t inform anyone, simply wanting to maintain it for themselves. I perceive why.


Double rooms at Star Fort Lodge (, 01720 422317) begin from £190 per room per evening for dinner, mattress and breakfast. Isles of Scilly Journey (, 01736 334220) gives Skybus flights to the Isles of Scilly from Exeter, Newquay and Land’s Finish Airport from £140 return. 


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