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
Discover the Isles of Scilly’s beautiful gardens and incredible wildlife with John Craven
On the peaceful Isles of Scilly you'll find a haven of tranquillity where wildlife flourishes. This heavenly archipelago is famous for its exquisite scenery, lush botanical gardens and white, sandy beaches.
On our action-packed six-day trip, you'll be able to find out for yourself why so many people consider the Isles of Scilly to be one of the most idyllic parts of the UK. This trip will take you to many of the isles' most beautiful locations. There's a visit to the magnificent Tresco Abbey Garden on the itinerary, described by many as 'Kew without the glass'. These gardens are home to a fantastic array of plants which flourish in the isles' sub-tropical climate.
You'll be delighted by the range of wildlife to be spotted on the Isles of Scilly, with many species that can't be seen anywhere else in the UK. Julian Branscombe, the Chief Executive of the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust, will join you one day to explore and join you for dinner and talk. And Countryfile presenter John Craven OBE will spend a day exploring the Isles with you and join you for dinner one evening to give a talk about his career and answer your questions during an insightful Q&A session.
You'll be based at the Star Castle Hotel on St Mary's, which will serve as your base for the trip. This is a historic building, dating back to 1593, where you'll enjoy delicious cuisine made with freshest local ingredients. You might even sample seafood caught by the owner from the hotel's boat.
In between excursions you can relax and have a drink with your fellow guests, take a dip in the heated indoor swimming pool, or take a stroll in the peaceful secluded gardens.
Please note this is a busy and full itinerary and 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's very own vineyard, the nature reserves - home to rare wildlife, and the Scilly Spirit gin distillery are just a few of the island's must-sees.
Star Castle is just a short walk from the centre of St Mary's island and harbour.
By plane: Newquay Airport (30 minutes), Exeter (1 hour), Lands End (15 minutes). A Skybus shuttle bus runs from Lands End airport to outside Penzance railway station.
By boat: the Scillionian III Passenger Ferry departs from Penzance Quay with a travel time of 2 hours 45 minutes.
Style & Character
Those after a little luxury, looking for somewhere to unwind against a backdrop of stunning sea views, will love Star Castle. It's hard not to fall for the original features of the castle, including the turrets and ramparts, large wooden beams, open-fireplaces and original stone walls.
Service & Facilities
Holy Vale, Star Castle's beautiful vineyard, is a must-see; its peaceful location and stunning views provide the ideal setting for a lobster lunch or wine-tasting.
- Afternoon tea
- Indoor swimming pool
- Tennis court
- Kids' playground
- Golf court
We love the Garden Room's verandah, with its wooden chairs perfectly positioned to take in views of the island, providing the most heavenly palce to while away the hours.
Guard Rooms, Castle Rooms, Superior Castle Rooms, Garden Rooms and Suites, Superior Garden Suites, Family Rooms
Facilities include: tea and coffee making facilities, television, hairdryer, dressing gown, white fluffy bath and hand towels, ironing board and iron
Food & Drink
Produce doesn't get more local than this, with the hotel's two award-winning restaurants' menus boasting an array of fish and seafood from island suppliers and the hotel's own kitchen garden. Robert's freshly caught lobsters and crabs, brought in daily with a selection of his house vineyard wines, are an absolute treat for the tastebuds!
The Castle Restaurant: fine dining, locally caught seafood, kitchen garden produce. Open March - November for breakfast and dinner 6.30 - 8.30 pm. Two courses £36.50, three courses £42, four courses £45.
The Conservatory: fresh seafood, alfresco dining. Open April - October for breakfast and dinner. Pricing as above.
The Dungeon bar: ex-prison setting, Scillonian beer, wines and aperitifs.