Isles of Scilly Inrich With Natural Beauty, England

on Thursday, May 13, 2010

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Call them the Isles of Scilly, or just Scilly, England's smallest official "Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty" lies sprinkled in the Atlantic 28 miles southwest of Land's End. Scilly is an administrative part of Cornwall (owned, in fact, by the Duchy of Cornwall) easily accessible by boat, helicopter, or plane from the mainland. The islands are a collection of secluded sandy beaches, Bronze Age burial chambers, and rocky promontories, and a smattering of beautifully located caf├ęs ensure plenty of diversions -- such as kayaking, sailing, and windsurfing -- en route. There are five inhabited islands: St. Mary's, Tresco, St. Martin's, St. Agnes, and Bryher, along with more than 150 uninhabited ones that lay scattered across the shallow turquoise seas. Fringed with beaches of soft, pale sand, the archipelago has the exotic appeal of some faraway holiday paradise, an impression enhanced by the balmy, frost-free climate and colorful subtropical plants. While the sometimes harsh winters scare people off, summers do anything but: You're advised to book well ahead as Scilly's limited accommodations are reserved solid for much of the year. May sees the islands largest gathering of temporary visitors, as the annual gig-racing champions bring spectators intrigued by the 19th century vessels used by the competing teams.
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