Tresco’s the second largest island and, in microcosm, demonstrates perfectly the great diversity of landscape in Scilly. Wind-blasted heathland and granite outcrops give way to lush farmland and, in turn, to the world-famous Abbey Gardens and the south and eastern shores’ unbelievably beautiful beaches.
At low tide, you can walk across the flats to the neighbouring Island, Bryher, and at very low tides, St Martin’s and the uninhabited Samson can also be reached on foot.
Tresco is privately leased from the Duchy of Cornwall by the Dorrien-Smith family which is descended from the 19th century’s self-appointed Lord of the Isles, Augustus Smith. Tresco’s character remains utterly distinctive. It’s served all year by helicopter from Penzance, and has a sub-post office and general store, two hotels (including the local inn), self catering and timeshare cottages, and an Anglican church.
The Abbey Gardens were established by Augustus Smith in 1834, on the site of a ruined 12th century Benedictine Priory. Many of the garden’s 5,000 varieties of sub tropical and exotic plants were brought to Scilly by ship’s captains and Scillonian master mariners, and they include tree ferns from New Zealand, South African proteas and aloes, as well as acacias and eucalyptus from Australia.
Most of the accommodation is run by the Tresco Estate whose website has a wide range of further information about the Island.