If camping on the tiny island of St Agnes isn’t exciting enough, it’s certainly an adventure getting there. Take your pick from a boat or plane for the journey to one of the Isles of Scilly’s two main islands, St Mary’s. The plane has the edge for maximum thrill, a tiny eight-seater bouncing about on the winds. Bag one of the front seats, inches from the whirring propellers, for a bird’s-eye view of the 100- odd islands that make up this archipelago.
Then it’s on to a catamaran for the trip to St Agnes. If it’s a bright day, you’ll be greeted by the almost Mediterranean sight of boats moored on the turquoise waters of Porth Conger as you arrive. Next is a tractor ride – for your luggage at least. Most people choose to let their bags go ahead and walk the 20 minutes to the campsite, a scenic stroll that provides a stunning introduction to the island.
At just one mile in diameter, St Agnes is one of the smallest inhabited islands of the Scilly archipelago. It’s a beautiful, rugged place that has seen little change since Celtic times, a forgotten outpost of England’s west. The majority of the island’s 70 inhabitants work in flower farming during the winter months, as they have done for generations, although tourism is now as important to the economy. Even so, there are only a handful of B&Bs on the island – most people come to stay at Troytown Farm, England’s westernmost campsite.
Its position couldn’t be any more remote or spectacular. The campsite clings to the western foreshore of the island, just feet away from the rock-calmed Atlantic waters that look as if they might engulf the campsite at high tide. To one side, a beautiful curve of sand at Periglis Beach extends into the sea. To the other, bold, intriguing rock formations add interest to the heather-covered coastal landscape. It’s a magical wilderness that feels like the ends of the earth. In fact, it is almost at the ends of the earth; the nearest neighbours to the southwest are New Yorkers.
There are small, separate fieldlets with low hedges and walls offering a certain amount of protection from the elements, but this can be a windy island so come prepared. When the sun shines, though, this place is perfect. You can play in the rock pools, spot the rare, migrating birds or just sling up a hammock and listen to the waves gently lapping on the foreshore. At night, the lack of light pollution affords incredible views of the Milky Way and dazzling displays of shooting stars. Isolation is this island’s greatest asset, so bring a love of nature and plenty of books to read. The island may be remote, but it’s fairly self-sufficient. Troytown Farm has a small dairy herd producing milk and cream for the island. They also rear pigs and grow vegetables to provide campers with food, so most survival essentials are available at the farmhouse and on-site shop. The other of life’s necessities is available by the pint at The Turks Head in Porth Conger, the island’s only pub. Perched on the hillside overlooking the bay and the adjacent islet of The Gugh, it might just win the prize for best beer garden view in England.
St Agnes is also blessed with some fantastic beaches. As well as Periglis Beach near the campsite, there’s the small, sheltered beach at Cove Vean on the eastern shore and a sandbar at Porth Conger, where you can splash about in the waves or walk across to The Gugh at low tide. But for great sunset views, head back to Periglis – and see if you can’t spot the Statue of Liberty in the distance.
The campsite owner says
Located at the very edge of England, on the remote island of St Agnes, Troytown Campsite is right by the beach and enjoys incredible panoramic views across the Atlantic, Bishop Rock Lighthouse, the rugged western rocks and the uninhabited island of Annet. Wake up to the sound of the sea, spend your day relaxing on the white sand of the campsites own beach, then after dining alfresco, watch the sunset from your tent and count shooting stars in the crystal clear night sky. At peak times the campsite is the perfect family site, visited by the same families year after year, for the fabulous views, sandy beach and the safe, traffic-free, natural environment. Outside of the school summer holidays, the campsite is the perfect retreat, with peace and quiet and beautiful scenery in abundance.
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