Sunday 28 June 2015

Another island holiday.......

A little corner of heaven, showing the beach by our campsite   (Click pictures to enlarge)
One of my great passions in life is visiting different islands. So far I've been to Mauritius, Seychelles, Crete, La Palma, Tenerife, Fuertaventura, Gran Canaria, Menorca, Inner and Outer Hebrides, the Orkneys, Jersey and Guernsey, Lindisfarne and possibly a few more I've already forgotten in my dotage. Over the past couple of weeks, along with my wonderful partner, I've been re-discovering another island dear to my heart, St Martin's in the beautiful Isles of Scilly. It's thirteen years since we last camped there on a site owned at that time by Christine and Christopher Savill, but which passed into the very capable hands of Ben and Caroline Gillet in 2008.
Our cosy corner
I'm not sure what Caroline thought of us when we opted to tote our camping gear from the jetty at Lowertown rather than have it transferred to the site on her waiting trailer.  But we'd only a rucksack each of backpacking gear which, in the past, we'd toted coast to coast across Scotland on many occasions so ¼ mile walk was child's play to us. Besides, we were anxious to pick a prime position on the site before others arrived, and that's exactly what we did. Loos, showers and washroom, laundrette, carousel for drying clothes, washing up facilities, recycling area - not to mention free wifi - were all within an easy stone's throw of our tent but all hidden from our cosy corner.
At the Face Menir (locally called Billy Idol) with Daymark in the distance.
Being a small island (it's possible to run all the way round in less than 60 minutes) I'd foolishly thought after our pre-breakfast runs I'd be able to relax for the remainder of our days. Wrong, wrong, wrong. There was a ton of shopping to do, a gallery to visit, Adam's fish and chip restaurant, Little Arthur for coffee, a bakery for fresh bread and goodies, walks to White Island (at low tide), a couple of standing stones to be photographed, birds to watch and exotic flowers to put names to - and all a fair distance away. My Garmin registered 44.7 miles of running but that distance was exceeded by far with the amount of walking we did. Needless to say, on returning home we'd both lost weight.
This 6 mile route took a pathetic 79 minutes to run....
In 2002, aged 70, I could easily run the 4 miles to the Daymark and back in 28 minutes. This year, running to the Daymark every day, I failed to break 40 minutes.  Hugging the coast paths with a character called 'John' those thirteen years ago I ran an estimated 7 miles in 54 minutes. This year I really showed my age taking 79 minutes for a measly 6 miles.    Anno Domini is not being very kind to Old Runningfox, I wish he'd go away and leave me alone for a little while, or preferably for the next 17 years until I've got my telegram, or whatever, from whoever happens to be sat on the throne writing them.
Ben starting his run....
Our amiable and much younger hosts, Ben and Caroline, are triathletes and took part in a race on the neighbouring island of Tresco while we were there. On a beautiful summer day we went over to support them and shout a bit of encouragement as they toiled through their disciplines. Must admit though, we failed to identify them coming out of the water in full body cover and only managed to spot them in the final transition from biking to running when their numbers were easier to see.
....and Caroline finishing hers
After watching both of them begin their 5K runs we darted round to the Finish (by a shorter route) to photograph them finishing.  76 athletes completed the course, the winner, Jack Plummer, setting a new course record of 1.07.14. Ben finished a creditable 25th in 1.26 with Caroline 37th in 1.29.  I couldn't help wondering how our local Brownlee brothers would have performed?
The pair of us approaching the Daymark on a pre-breakfast run....

...and oh, what bliss, recovering in the sun on Par beach in the afternoon
Great Bay and Little Bay from Top Rocks
After being mainly lucky with the weather it decided to rain for our last day on St Martin's. There was a thick sea fret and the foghorn was sounding 4 times every minute as we set off on a final run to the Daymark at 7am. For the only time during our stay, we wore rain jackets over our shorts and vests. Shrouded in mist it was a while before the distant Daymark came into view. We hurried towards it, did a quick circuit in the blustery conditions and headed straight back to camp. Mission accomplished and a fitting end to a brilliant holiday on this truly beautiful island.
Shouldering our packs ready to depart...
Our thanks to Ben and Caroline for their wonderful hospitality, efficiency and expertise at running what we consider the best official campsite in all of Britain.


  1. you are making my jeolous... It's cold and wet here and then I'm still stuck at work!

    1. Refresh my memory Coach, what's work?
      It's forecasting 80º+ these next two days so I'll be stretched on the lawn with maybe a cold San Miguel..... Might think of you!

  2. Replies
    1. It sure is Karien - especially for runners. You'd love those springy turf paths and sandy trails.....

  3. You were so fortunate with the weather ... lovely photo's.
    Apparently we are in for a heatwave in the UK later this week, so the San Miguel you speak of above will go down a treat I'm sure !

    Have a good week

    All the best Jan

    1. San Miguel is already cooling in the fridge Jan. I've mown the lawns, caught up with the gardening, done all the shopping, so nothing left to do after my morning runs but lie in the sun. Bliss....