St Martin's, Isles of Scilly
28 miles from Cornwall
St Martin's is one of the smaller islands that make up the Isles of Scilly, 28 miles off the coast of Cornwall. The islands enjoy a frost free climate and are home to a host of exotic plants, colonies of seabirds and rare marine life. Highertown, Middletown and Lowertown make up the three main communities on the island and we have a resident population of about 120 people.
Churchtown Farm is in Highertown and as the name suggests is right next to the Church. There has been a working flower farm at Churchtown for well over 100 years. Tucked behind the tall hedges, that protect the farm from Atlantic gales, is a hive of activity sending gift boxes of island grown scented flowers all over the country.
St Martin's is 2 miles long and about 1/4 mile wide, with a road that runs from one end to the other and plenty of footpaths that crisscross the island. The biggest attraction on St Martin's is the stunning scenery, particularly the many white sandy beaches dotted all around the coast. From Easter to October the island welcomes people coming on holiday to enjoy island life but even in the height of summer the island rarely feels crowded.
Life on a small island
People often have questions about day to day island life. There is a well stocked general store and post office, a bakery and plenty of produce sold from honesty stalls. Many people place orders online from the Co-op on St Mary’s.
Our electricity comes from the mainland, as well as quite a lot of roof top solar panels. Water comes from a mixture of private wells and a small water system managed by South West Water. Fuel for vehicles, like anything else we use, comes in by freight boat and has to be collected from one of the two quays.
Island children go to primary school on St Martin’s, weekly board on St Mary’s until yr 11 and then most travel to the mainland to finish their education. The doctor visits once a week and there is a small hospital and dentists on St Mary’s. The island has a fire brigade, a coastguard team and ambulance first responders. We even have our own island barber.
A thriving community
Small communities tend to naturally have their ups and downs. Currently St Martin’s is thriving. We have a good range of ages living on the island and a wide range of talents. There are a few galleries and little shops dotted across the island that showcase artwork and products inspired by this beautiful island we are lucky to call home.
If you want to find out more about St Martin’s or are thinking about planning a visit the community runs a website - stmartinsscilly.co.uk. This is a great place to start looking for accommodation and getting a feel for what St Martin's has to offer.
Our little island home has a few surprises tucked away. The Isles of Scilly enjoys dark skies and to make the most of this a group of islanders have built an observatory and hold events to share their fascination with the stars. During the summer you can take a guided trip to go snorkelling with seals. There is also a vineyard and rum distillery.
Dotted across St Martin’s is evidence of those who have lived here before us, from ancient burial sites to the relatively modern remains of old glass houses that were used to force early daffodils. The flower farms no longer use additional heat, having found varieties of scented narcissi that flourish outdoors from October to Easter.
We have put together a collection of our favourite videos featuring Scilly, to watch them click on the link below.
The Day Mark
At the far east of St Martin’s is what looks like a giant red and white rocket. This iconic St Martin’s landmark was built as a navigational mark to help ships avoid the treacherous rocks that lie north and east of St Martin’s. Although ships now have many navigational aids it is still maintained as a shipping mark by Trinity House.
Scilly has a very small football league - two teams based on St Mary's who play each other through the season. In the summer each Island, often with the help of visitors, musters a cricket team for a series of matches. But the sport that Scilly is most famous for is gig rowing. Over the first May bank holiday every year the Islands host the World Pilot Gig Championships. Hundreds of crews come for a weekend of racing and fun. St Martin's has two gigs the Dolphin and the Galatea so you know who to cheer for! To find out more about this spectacle click here.