Holiday inspiration currently loading...
Absorb the contrasts of mainland Cornwall and England’s most enchanting archipelago, travelling by relaxing train, thrilling plane and easy motorboat.
England’s south-western corner has long been the playground of city-dwellers eager to take to its golden beaches, clamber its soaring cliffs and discover its chequered, seafaring past. In this skilfully crafted holiday, set off to the English Riviera by train and take a few days to explore Penzance and St Ives, before soaring over the Atlantic to the Isles of Scilly, our latest island destination.
*Due to extremely limited accommodation on the Isles of Scilly, please book ahead for 2023.
Set off this morning from historic Paddington station in West London, taking one of England’s most evocative rail journeys to the country’s south-western tip. Glide through Berkshire, past Windsor Castle, through the north Wessex Downs, before spearing south through Somerset around the Blackdown Hills to Exeter. From here, hit the south Devon coast and skirt Dartmoor then on to St. Austell, Truro and Redruth on the way to your destination at Penzance. (Let us know if you prefer to take the Night Riviera Sleeper to awaken in Cornwall.)
Perched on the hill overlooking sweeping Mount’s Bay, your independently owned accommodation in Penzance may well be the perfect way to start any holiday. A Georgian former manse, the house has been upgraded to exacting standard, with a hugely appealing collection of art and mid-century, retro-modern furniture expertly utilised to create a soothing atmosphere. Every detail has been pored over to create guest accommodation of quite wonderful quality, while your host is full of advice on how best to make the most of your time.
Two of Cornwall’s beautifully contrasting destinations await exploration. On your doorstep, you’ll find windswept Penzance with its Victorian promenade and arcades, subtropical oasis Morrab Gardens, historic, legendary fortress St. Michael’s Mount and the extraordinary spectacle of cliffside Minack Theatre.
And just 35 minutes North by train, dazzling St. Ives delivers world class beaches, a maze of cobbled streets and alleyways featuring every type of shopping and dining, the award winning Tate Gallery and a uniquely Cornish atmosphere.
After breakfast, take a taxi to the tiny airport at Land’s End. Here, board a Twin Otter aircraft for the thrilling 26 mile flight to the UK’s south-western extreme, the evocative Isles of Scilly. You’ll enjoy expansive views of the edges of the Cornish coast at take-off, and in no time see the clutch of Scilly islands hovering into view, seemingly sprinkled from nowhere in the bright blue Atlantic Ocean. Landing at St. Mary’s Airport, you’ll be met by a vehicle from your hotel and whisked to ‘capital’ Hugh Town for two nights in a hilltop castle.
High on the hill overlooking Hugh Town, your accommodation on the island of St. Mary’s is the Elizabethan castle that has kept watch over the islands since the late-16th century. Family owned and run, the castle features an eclectic selection of rooms both ancient and modern, many with panoramic views across Scilly, fine dining and conservatory restaurants and an atmospheric dungeon bar. During breakfast below the conservatory vine, boatmen take time to meet each guest, helping plan your day ahead if crossings are required, with timings posted on blackboards at hotel reception and around the islands. This is island life at its best.
This morning you’ll be met at your hotel by an expert local guide and taken on a day long walking tour of the island of St. Mary’s. Uncover the rich history of the island capital, starting with the Garrison Walls of your castle hotel, before descending in to Hugh Town with its harbour-side setting, Town Beach and clutch of galleries, shops and cafés. Further afield, stroll the beaches of Porthmellon and Portcressa and unearth Neolithic Bants Carn, the settlement of Halangy, as well as the burial chambers of Buzza, Innisdigen and Porth Hellick. Along the way, immerse yourself in tales of seafaring while uncovering some of the UK’s richest sea and marine wildlife.
Take your time over breakfast and plan your day ahead. Prepare for the 20 minute boat ride to Tresco, the second largest of Scilly’s inhabited islands. Don’t worry about your luggage, as this will be transported for you to quayside and looked after whilst you make your way there. Taking to the water in one of the islands’ many small craft, accompanied by local boatmen, you’ll motor past uninhabited Samson to the west, navigating between some of the dozens of islets that litter the ocean, before arriving at the quay on Tresco. From here, it’s a matter of yards’ walk to your accommodation.
Facing west in the village of New Grimsby, your accommodation on Tresco is a welcoming inn at the heart of life on the island. Wreckwood and marine relics feature at almost every turn in the traditional bar, where visitors are invited to share stories over a pint of cider with the friendly locals. The in-house restaurant sees guests dine on the best produce these islands have to offer, including veg from the Abbey Garden, Bryher crab and lobster, and Cornish beef, while comfortable, unfussy rooms are exactly what’s needed after a day ‘s exploration in the sea air.
Enjoy a 20 minute stroll this morning as visitors swish by on electric buggies or bicycle, the sandstone village spread out along the coast and up the hill. Strolling south, soon you’re in dense, subtropical forest surrounding ‘Great Pool’, a popular watch spot for the many birdwatchers who flock to Scilly all year round, and shortly Tresco Abbey Gardens present themselves. Acclaimed as some of the UK’s finest, the gardens occupy a vast, multi-level world, where near-tame red squirrels share space with exotic birds, the eerie collection of figureheads at ‘Valhalla’ tell their own story, and a simply breathtaking array of plant life abounds from across the Earth.
Later, enjoy a coffee in the in-house café before the stroll back to New Grimsby, perhaps taking lunch of fresh crab sandwiches at the waterside restaurant or something different at your accommodation.
This morning you’ll be transferred back to Bryher quayside to catch your boat to St. Mary’s. Here, you’ll be met by a Skybus driver and whisked back to St. Mary’s Airport for your return flight to Land’s End. At Land’s End, take a short taxi ride to Penzance and board the train back to London Paddington.
This holiday is part of our ever-growing collection of public transport based holidays, enabling you to reach destinations around England – in this case, including the Isles of Scilly – without the need to drive. We feel strongly that true sustainability also means promoting and helping to maintain a way of life in areas where the economic benefit of tourism can make a genuine difference to the local community, which is why we have used locally owned small accommodation and a local guide on this holiday.
This holiday includes stays in Penzance in Cornwall, and in Hugh Town and Tresco in the Isles of Scilly.
£1995 per person for departures in April & October, £2095 per person in May, June & September and £2150 per person in July & August.
Prices based on two people sharing a double or twin room en-suite, for seven nights on a bed and breakfast basis. Prices include return train travel from London to Penzance, return air travel from Land’s End to Scilly and a private guided walking tour in St. Mary’s. Inter-island boat-travel in Scilly is not pre-bookable, and is payable in cash to the boatmen upon boarding.
Please just let us know if we can tailor this holiday for you, adding a guided walking tour of Tresco and the Abbey Gardens, and perhaps adding a night or two in London, Penzance or Carbis Bay by St Ives.
Overnight sleeper-service train travel from London to Penzance is a wonderful way to start this holiday – please do ask if you’d like to experience this classic journey.
We can also facilitate travel to and from Scilly by helicopter, subject to availability.
Before your departure, you will receive personalised holiday information and suggestions on places to visit depending on your interests and our local knowledge, to help you get the most from your holiday.
All itineraries and room types are presented subject to availability at specific hotels.
You are requesting availability for
This holiday can be arranged from April to October. Please book ahead for 2023.
Availability is individually checked for a hand-picked selection of smaller hotels, guest houses and other independent businesses, so please bear with us and we will respond in 1-2 working days.
Please note: All fields marked * are required
All our holiday prices include a service charge of £9 per person per night towards the costs we incur in researching, planning and designing your holiday.
We guarantee to refund this service charge if you believe that arranging your holiday through McKinlay Kidd has not met your expectations for value. All we ask is that you write to us within 7 days of your return and explain your reason for claiming the refund. This will ensure that we can improve the experience for all our future guests.
CLICK HERE to take part or scan the QR code
The survey will take no more than 10 minutes of your time.
It’s completely anonymous, and as a thank you for participating, you’ll be entered into a prize draw to win £150 (or equivalent in your local currency) to add to your travel fund!
CLICK HERE to take part or scan the QR code
The survey is being conducted by Jump Research, an independent research agency, in line with Market Research Society guidelines and UK GDPR laws and will be open until Monday, 5th December.