Learning to go with the flow on a trip to the Isles of Scilly. Words and photos by Alex Fisher

We’re late; we may miss our plane. We were caught in traffic leaving London and now our whole schedule is under threat. There are connections to make. People to meet. A job to be completed. The subsequent four-hour drive is tense. Glued to the sat nav we watch as our arrival time creeps forwards and backwards. Every minute counts. Each slow lorry ahead brings a groan, a stretch of clear road and we cross our fingers.

By the time we reach the airport we are wrung out. Exhausted and hoping for a bar. But we made it. Bags checked, we whizz through the airport and hop onto the tiny plane heading for the Isles of Scilly, hearts still pounding. 

In just over an hour we are walking through the streets of Hugh Town on St. Mary’s, the largest of the islands, where the plane lands. Still befuddled, we hover at the checkout of the supermarket, trying to remember what we wanted. I turn to apologise to the small queue behind me. The man laughs, ‘Don’t worry, we don’t rush anything on the Isles of Scilly, take your time.’ And from that moment, the stresses of the mainland fall away.

Over the next few days we explore the beautiful, rugged landscape of the islands: kayaking from the sandy beaches, walking through the lush green pathways, climbing hills to enjoy the stunning views. We eat delicious crab, pulled out of the sea that day, in a whitewashed farm building, dressed out with a few wooden benches, decorated with old fishing nets. We snorkel in the crystal clear water, catching sight of a huge wrasse, and we try our hand at dingy sailing, gliding from one island to another.

The inhabitants we meet along the way are friendly and welcoming. Amanda has just started a new business, Island Fish, continuing her family’s fishing business, but giving it a fresh slant by suppling visitors and local restaurants, moving away from costly export. She offers us a lobster, and invites us to return anytime to take pictures. ‘Let yourself in, the door is always open.’

Kathy, who has run the campsite on Bryher for 40 years, is ready to retire, and has just sold the business, but she’s happy. ‘I found the right people to sell to,’ she says. ‘I could have got more money for it, but that’s not the point. I know the young couple who are buying it will look after it the way I would.’

There’s a relaxed ambience on the islands. The people are busy and industrious, but also hugely adaptable. As one islander from St. Mary's explains, they are subject to the elements. When you have to constantly adapt your plans, business or otherwise, according to the weather, you have to give up the idea of being in control and get used to going with the flow.

Before we go back, we have a trip booked to Tresco. We’re meeting some of the people who run the holiday businesses here. Appointments have been made. But we’re late; there was a storm at first light and the boat is delayed by nearly an hour. It doesn’t matter. Everyone knows. They’ll adjust their schedule.

For more Editor's Blog posts click here 

To book transport to the Isles of Scilly click here

Coast stayed at the Hell Bay Hotel on Bryher. Click here for more details