Darren Mason, Head Ranger at the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust shares one of his favourite walks on St Mary’s, plus some of the special species you may see along the way.
Our spring summer collection tells the story of our designers’ field trip to the Isles of Scilly.
We were lucky to spend time with the team from Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust, who told us all about their work and the unique flora and fauna of the islands. If you’re planning a trip to St Mary’s, try out this beautiful walk when you go, taking in beaches, birds, moorland and maritime heath.
DISTANCE: 3 MILES
TIME: 2 HOURS
MAP: OS EXPLORER 101
REFRESHMENTS: PORTH CRESSA AND OLD TOWN BAY
1. Start in Hugh Town. Stroll around Porthcressa to see the Sandwich terns on a rising tide in April and September.
2. Walk up past the allotments on to Peninnis Head. Here you’ll hit coastal grasslands. See Thrift early in the season, Sea carrot, Bird’s-foot trefoil and Eyebright.
3. You’ll see what we call a maritime heath – wind-pruned heath that looks almost like ridges and furrows. On the ridges, you’ll see Heather. In the furrows you have open soil, where you’ll spot lots of different Lichen on the granite boulders.
4. Walk on down into Old Town Bay and stop at the Old Town Cafe.
5. Then wander towards Higher Moors along the road. There’s an avenue of elms between Carn Friars and Higher Moors. We have Dutch elm and Cornish elm here. Elms are really rare on the UK mainland, as they’ve been wiped out by Dutch elm disease.
6. Drop down into Higher Moors. It’s one of the two main wetlands on St Mary’s. There’s a reedbed and swamp, full of wetland plants, Tubular water-dropwort, Lesser marshworts and Purple-loosestrife. These plants provide nectar for Green-veined white butterflies and Speckled wood butterflies.
7. Then you get down to the pool itself. In September, you may see Pectoral sandpipers, Green sandpipers, or Lesser yellow legs from America.
8. Finally, end your walk down at Porth Hellick. As the tide’s going out in the evening, the view is spectacular.
What we wore on our field trip: