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22 Interesting Facts About the Isles of Scilly

How many facts about the Isles of Scilly could you come up with? If you want to know what the Isles of Scilly are famous for, then read on for our top facts to show off your knowledge.

Here are 25 bits of Isles of Scilly trivia to add to your Isles of Scilly facts collection. Be prepared for an education!

Tresco on the isles of scily

The Isles of Scilly are located off the coast of Cornwall, and to the west a little. It’s a beautiful part of England, which is popular for day trippers and holiday makers in the summer, but when the boat and plane connections stop at the end of September, it’s just the locals who are left behind. To live here, they must like it that way!

You can visit the Isles of Scilly on a day trip from Cornwall, it’s only a 45-minute flight. You can find out how to do a day trip to the Isles of Scilly here, but, don’t go yet. Let’s take a look at some facts about the Scilly Isles (don’t call them that around a local, it’s the Isles of Scilly) to add some depth and understanding to your trip.

Facts About the Isles of Scilly

Everyone loves a bit of trivia, so enjoy these 21 amazing facts about the Scilly Isles.

The Isles of Scilly were first inhabited in 6000BC

1. They’re just 28 miles away!

The Isles of Scilly are 28 miles off the coast of Land’s End in Cornwall. You can reach them by Scillonian ferry (3 hours) or the Skybus plane (45 mins) easily. Even easier, you can also get from England to the Isles of Scilly via helicopter (15 minutes) too.

All are weather dependent, and the ferry and plane generally only run from early April to late September, but you’ll need to check the dates.

2. There are 5 inhabited islands in the Isles of Scilly

The most important fact about the Isles of Scilly for day trippers, is that there are 5 inhabited islands: St Marys, St Agnes, Bryher, St Martin’s and Tresco. All well worth a visit!

St Mary’s is the easiest island to visit on an Isles of Scilly day trip, but Tresco is the most popular for tourists.

3. St Mary’s is 6 sq miles by 9

The largest island, St Mary’s, is just six square miles and has a circumference of just 9 miles. It’s capital, and the capital of the Scilly Isles is Hugh Town. 

4. The Scilly Isles are home to 2200 people

Looking over a dry-stone wall towards Round Island Lighthouse, St Martin’s, Isles of Scilly, Cornwall, England.

There are 1800 on St Mary’s, and the other 400 are spaced between the other islands. Around 1100 of these live in the ‘big city’ on St Marys, Hugh Town.

5. The Isles of Scilly are great for birdwatching

It’s one of the important facts about the Isles of Scilly that they’re home to some interesting birds, including Fulmars, Sandwich Terns, Willow Warblers, Sand Martins and Swallows. You can also find Razorbills, Guillemots, Cormorants, Dunlins, Plovers, Ducks, Kestrels and Peregrines.

birdwatching scilly isles

6. The Isles of Scilly love a festival!

There are over 5 annual festivals on Scilly, including Low Tide Events, the Creative Scilly Festival, the Scilly Folk Festival and Taste of Scilly. If you’re planning on visiting Scilly, then time your trip just right for one of these. 

7. Over 300 Germans died in a shipwreck in 1875

One of the sad facts about the Isles of Scilly is that they’re responsible for a lot of shipwrecks over the years.

In 1875 the German oceanliner SS Schiller was wrecked off Scilly, with 335 deaths. The islanders managed to rescue 37 people, and the Schiller Shelter was built to commemorate them by the German government, and to thank the islanders.

8. Scilly has the world’s smallest football league

The Isles of Scilly football league is made up of the Woolpack Wanderers and the Garrison Gunners. 

That’s it…

9. There are well over 20,000 plant species on the Scilly Isles

facts about the isles of scilly

This is all thanks to Tresco Abbey Gardens – a botanical paradise planted among the ruins of a Benedictine priory. It’s also home to red squirrels – one of the few places you can find the national animal of England here. 

10. Some of the world’s BEST beaches are here

One of our favourite facts about the Isles of Scilly are that they’re home to some of the world’s best beaches – including Tresco’s Pentle Bay and Appletree Bay too. 

11. The Isles of Scilly have some of England’s darkest skies

There are five dark sky sites to enjoy on the Isles of Scilly. Head for the Community Observatory on St Martin’s for some great views from their telescopes. The Observatory also has two observation domes with computer equipment for astro-imaging. 

12. Seven Stones Reef has caused over 200 shipwrecks

Seven Stones Reef is about 7 miles from Scilly and has been responsible for over 200 shipwrecks of the many on the Isles of Scilly. 

1236418 - cromwell’s castle and king charles castle, isles of scilly, cornwall.

13. Scilly’s most famous shipwreck was the Torrey Canyon

In March 1967 the Torrey Canyon ship wrecked off the coast of the Isles of Scilly near Cornwall, spilling over 117,000 tonnes of crude oil. Fifteen soldiers were flown by helicopter to the Scillies to form a beach defence force to reduce the effect.

14. Children travel by boat to school

There isn’t a school for all ages on every island, so children on Bryher travel by boat to the school base on Tresco. 

15. Bryher is the hilliest island

‘Bryher’ comes from the Cornish word ‘Breyer’, meaning place of hills. There are 7 hills on Bryher, although none higher than 42 metres. 

Scilly facts

16. Sometimes you can WALK between islands

In low tide you can walk along the sand bar connecting St Agnes with the little island of Gugh. 

17. After St Agnes, it’s the USA

One of the most interesting facts about the Isles of Scilly is its geography. From the west coast of St Agnes the next landmass is the USA, over 3000 miles away across the Atlantic Ocean. 

18. ‘Hicks’ is the most popular surname

Don’t be surprised if you come across the surnam ‘Hicks’ on the Isles of Scilly, it’s the most popular surname – although, they’re said to be unrelated. 

19. Over 750 seals come for winter, and 80ish are born in winter!

13703957 - group of atlantic grey seals in scilly isles

There are around 260 seals on the Isles of Scilly in summer, and 750 in winter. You can join a seal watching trip with St Mary’s Boatmen’s Association to get out and see their hotspots. You can even do a seal snorkelling trip if you want to get even closer. It’s estimated around 80 pups are born on the isles every autumn. 

20. The Isles of Scilly were first inhabited in 6000BC

It’s generally agreed that the islands used to be joined together, and were one island known as Ennor.

21. The Isles of Scilly make their own wine

Scilly Isles winery

Holy Vale Vineyard is the biggest vineyard on the Scilly Isles, dating back pretty recently to 2009. Here they bottle up the wines made at four different sites on the Isles of Scilly and can serve a diverse range thanks to the gorgeous weather and uniquely located vines.

22. St Agnes is the most southernly point in Great Britain

And of course, in true British style, there’s a pub there to celebrate you marking the spot. You can visit The Turks Head.

Facts about the Scilly Isles

facts about the scilly isles

Hope you’ve enjoyed these facts about the Scilly Isles. If you want to know more about this beautiful area of England, you must visit!

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