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Itineraries to inspire


Duration: About 10 hours
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Scillonian III - Penzance - Penzance Harbour, Penzance TR18 4AH, UK

The Isles of Scilly are located 25 miles (40 km) south west of Lands End - the most westerly point in England. The archipelago currently consists of some 140 islets of various sizes - 5 of which are large enough to be classed as inhabited islands. But the present geography is a relatively recent phenomenon as it is thought that the islands were connected as a single island as recently as 500 AD - prior to a rise in sea levels. There were 2,224 inhabitants of The Isles of Scilly as of 2019. The 5 inhabited islands are: St. Mary's (1,666), Tresco (180), St. Martin's (142), St. Agnes (73) and Bryher (92). The total land mass of The Isles of Scilly is around 6.3 sq miles. There are 3 main modes of transportation for tourists who wish to visit the Isles: boat, helicopter and plane. Isles of Scilly Travel operate the Scillonian boat and Skybus plane service, and Penzance Helicopters operate the helicopter service. This itinerary focuses on a day trip to The Isles of Scilly via the Scillonian III ferry (the most economical option). There's no getting around the fact that a day trip to The Isles of Scilly will require you to spend around 8 hours on the boat in total - around 6 hours of sailing time and 2 hours of check-in and boarding time. On top of this, if you suffer from sea sickness, you'll likely want to purchase sea sickness medication in advance. Given this, if you have the extra funds available, you could choose to fly over to the Scilly Islands. However, the boat offers great views along the south west coastline of Cornwall, and of the Isles of Scilly, along with the opportunity to see dolphins en-route if you're lucky. On this day trip, upon arrival in Hugh Town - on the island of St. Mary's, we opted for a walk to Peninnis Head, a stroll to the beach at Old Town, a visit to St. Mary's Church, and a roundtrip walk back to Hugh Town for refreshments. We found this to be a perfect itinerary for those wanting to explore the area around Hugh Town on foot. It'll give you enough insight to decide whether you'll want to come back to the Scillies for a longer stay in the future, or perhaps take a boat trip to explore other islands on your next visit. If you're looking for more information about further places to explore in the Scillies, you can check out their official visitor website.

Duration: About 5 hours
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St. Ives Bus Stop - The Malakoff, The Terrace, Saint Ives TR26 2BP, UK

The coastal footpath between St. Ives and Zennor is a 6 mile long roller coaster of a walk. It traces along the cliffs giving a view of the rocky bays below with a perfect picnic stop at Seal Island - where you'll see a large colony of seals. Also look out for the (rare) pairs of Cornish Choughs, with their distinctive call. You can approach this walk from Zennor to St. Ives or from St. Ives to Zennor. You'll need transportation arranged in either case. There's a bus that runs between St. Ives and Zennor - and you can either take the bus to Zennor and start there, or get the bus back from Zennor if you are starting in St. Ives. The bus costs about 4 pounds for an adult single fare. Starting at the Zennor end, alight the bus and head to Zennor Church for the start of the trail. The trail in St. Ives starts (or ends) above Porthmeor beach - by the town Bowling Green, heading to Man's Head. Depending on conditions and fitness, the walk could take 3-5 hours - an average walker with a couple of rest stops taking about 4 hours. The undulating walk is steep in parts - making it a little strenuous. You must have appropriate walking shoes or boots. I'd recommend bringing a backpack for your supplies, with waterproofs if the weather forecast looks ominous. There's no real way of exiting the path once you're on it. If you happen to have walking poles, you could be grateful for them on a couple of slopes, but they're definitely not necessary. At the Zennor end of the walk, you'll find a very welcoming pub - The Tinners Arms, serving drinks, food and snacks, while at the St. Ives end there are endless cafés and eateries - but in the middle you're on your own. Bring plenty of water (I'd recommend at least 1-2 litres per person), a picnic and/or snacks.

Duration: 3 days
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St. Ives, Cornwall - Wharf Rd, Saint Ives TR26 1LH, UK

If you're looking for a 3 day itinerary for Cornwall, then we've got you covered! Cornwall is a fabulous place for just about any length of stay. There's plenty of accommodation - including bed and breakfasts, hotels and camping. Just make sure to book in advance - and well in advance if you're planning on visiting during holiday seasons. For this itinerary, I recommend you book accommodation around the St. Ives area - which could include St. Ives itself, Carbis Bay or Lelant. Nearby Hayle has plenty of caravans and cabins in the Hayle Towans sand dunes, if that is something you are looking for. Getting to Cornwall might be your biggest challenge - as it's the most south westerly county in England. Driving to St. Ives in Cornwall from London takes about 5.5 hours. From Bristol, the drive to St. Ives is about 3.5 hours, and from Manchester it's about 6 hours. Once you reach Exeter on the M5, switch to the A30, which will take you as far as Penzance - which is nearly Lands End - if you want. Alternatively, you could take the train to Cornwall (change at St. Erth for St. Ives) - but you'll be very limited once you arrive without a car. This might be an acceptable option if you are intending to stay only in one location - e.g. St. Ives itself. Once you're down in Cornwall, get ready to enjoy the fresh air and nature. Since Cornwall is essentially a long peninsula surrounded by sea on both the north and south coasts, the weather is influenced heavily by the ocean. You can be lucky and have a week of glorious sunshine in the summer time - but you should always be prepared for showers. The climate is relatively mild - with average temperatures exceeding much of the United Kingdom. You'll see plenty of palm trees in Cornwall since the region rarely gets frosts of snow that would kill them off. Locals surf the waves in Cornwall all year around. Wetsuits are generally necessary - 3mm summer suits in the summer and 5mm in the winter. You'll find surf schools to teach you how to get started - such as St. Ives Surf School. Peak season (Easter and the last 2 weeks in July and August) can be a busy time to visit - so be prepared to meet lots of fellow visitors in the towns during this period. When eating out, if you eat fish, you should look for restaurants that serve the local catch of the day. The main fishing port is Newlyn, near Penzance - where there is a daily auction that buyers from all over the UK attend. The local "convenience food" is the Cornish pasty - a pastry based savoury that you'll find sold in all Cornish towns. If you're staying for longer, you could check out our 1 Week in Cornwall itinerary. If you've got time, you could check out our Day trip to the Isles of Scilly itinerary. If you like long walks, you can also take a look at our Zennor to St. Ives coastal path walk - which has some beautiful scenery.

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Places to explore


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Culture-Museum Eat & Drink-Cafe Eat & Drink-IceCream Parlour Entertainment-Theme Park Exhibition-History
Clodgey Ln, Helston TR13, UK

Flambards Theme Park is well worth a visit if you're in west Cornwall with kids, and possibly also worth a visit if you are without kids. The theme parks combines two main concepts. Firstly, there's a "fun ride theme park" including 12 main rides. Investment in rides seems to be fairly consistent - with sizeable new rides added every year or 2. The latest additions are Jurassic Journey (2016) and Sky Force (2017). Secondly, there's a pretty decent indoor museum section covering a few concepts: Britain During The Blitz, a Victorian Britain and an aircraft museum. The aircraft museum was the original concept for Flambards - dating back to 1976 when the attraction was known as "Cornwall Aero Park". You can climb inside the cockpit of a plane, look at a lot of models and interact with multi-media exhibits. I enjoyed the life size streets and shops that have been recreated to illustrate life in Victorian Britain. It might be a difficult struggle to balance everyone's wishes on a visit - kids are more likely to be pulled toward the theme park section, whereas older generation visitors may prefer the museum (younger kids possibly following kicking and screaming). "Kid-friendly" food and drink are available in the cafe on-site, as well as ice creams in the park. Photo Credits: By Lewis Clarke, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=69561625

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Culture-Castle Culture-Landmark Culture-Stately Home Nature-Island Settlement-Village Transport-Harbour
St Michael's Mount, Marazion, UK

St. Michael's mount is a tidal island located just off the coast of the town of Marazion, in west Cornwall. When the tide is out, a stone walkway allows visitors to walk across the beach to the island. When the tide is in, an amphibious vehicle drives across the beach, and boats across to the island. The mount was the site of a monastery between the 8th and 11th centuries. If you've ever seen Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy, France, you might do a double take, because St. Michael's Mount is its Cornish twin, and both sites were run by the Benedictine order of Mont Saint-Michel. That was, until the war-in-France and in 1424, St. Michael's Mount was then gifted to the the Abbess and Convent of Syon at Isleworth, Middlesex. Arriving at the 57 acre mount, you encounter a harbour and a small village with a cafe and a few small shops. The village itself was damaged back in 1755 when the Lisbon Earthquake caused a tsunami and a sudden rise of 2 metres in sea level. By the 19th century, a total of 53 houses were present in the village. In 1954, the Aubyn family gave a large portion of the Mount to The National Trust, and entrance is therefore free for members. Once inside the "paid for" area, you gain access to The Gardens and The Castle. The Castle is divided into a private residence of the St. Aubyn family (whose ancestors have dwelled here since 1650) and a 15th century chapel, set of rooms, stairwells and terraces to publicly explore. There are suits of armour, weapons of old, paintings and stories to explore, set in a "living museum" type arrangement. To reach the castle, you need to walk up a cobbled and windy path, which is steep in some places. There are some magnificent views from the top of the castle across to the mainland. The gardens are set around the base of the mount and are immaculately tendered - and well worth a visit. A family of 2 adults and up to 3 children costs 21 GBP. Children under 5 have free entrance. Photo Credits: Benjamin Elliot on unsplash.com Dan Hill

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Nature-Beach Nature-Ocean Settlement-Town
Wharf Rd, Saint Ives TR26 1LH, UK

Originally an active fishing port, today St. Ives in west Cornwall is a thriving seaside resort also renowned for its artist colony and surfing culture. With a population of around 11,000 people, St. Ives is a place to wander small cobbled streets and alleyways. There are shops selling artwork, and plenty of places to relax in the many restaurants, cafes and pubs. The town has five beaches, taken in walking order: Porthminster is a relatively calm watered beach with a cafe, restaurant and ample space for families. Walking toward the town, the small Lambeth Walk Beach can be found along a walkway behind the present day lifeboat house. Past the harbour, the next beach is St. Ives harbour beach - a relatively small sandy beach with a view of the boats. Walking to Smeatons pier, and turning left, you’ll find the tiny beach of Bamaluz - with rocks and sand. Depending on the wind, occasionally this beach is used by surfers. Continue around the coastal path and you’ll reach Porthgwidden beach - a small but lovely sandy cove with a cafe and a backdrop of the rocky point known as “The Island”. The sea here is generally calm. Continue walking around “The Island”, or take a short-cut across the car park at Porthgwidden, and you’ll reach the largest and main surfing beach of the town: Porthmeor. Here, you can arrange for surfing lessons. There is a lifeguard presence during the summer months here. When the conditions are right (generally when winds are offshore - and most frequently in autumn, spring and winter, but also sometimes summer), Porthmeor can give some great waves for surfers, body boarders and other water sports. Also of note in the town is the Tate St. Ives gallery and the Barbara Hepworth museum, exhibiting many of her works in her sculpture garden. Parking in the town can be problematic. There is a beautiful little branch line train route which runs from St. Erth to St. Ives - meaning that you can leave your car a few miles away, and enjoy a coastal train ride (highly recommended).

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Settlement-Village Transport-Harbour
Mousehole, UK

Mousehole is a quaint village centred around a fishing port located a couple of miles south of Penzance in west Cornwall. There are records documenting the existence of Mousehole going back to 1283. The route you'll most likely use to get to Mousehole will be the coast road from Newlyn - which is called "Cliff Road" for good reason. The village was rebuilt after it was attacked and destroyed in 1595 by the Spaniard Carlos de Amésquita. The sole surviving building still stands today, with a plaque commemorating the death of Squire Jenkyn Keigwin. The village - current population around 700 - is mostly residential - with granite stone fisherman's style terraced cottages being the predominant buildings. The pub in the village is called "The Ship Inn", and it also sells local seafood. There are 8 other eateries in the village - my favourite being "2 Fore Street" - which I have visited twice. The restaurant is featured in the Michelin Guide 2020, and the food is modern and fresh, with some good options also for vegetarians. I would definitely recommend booking ahead if you're considering visiting this restaurant. The village is often cited as being the home to the last of the Cornish language speakers - toward the end of the 18th century. For many years, Mousehole was a very active fish port - there are records documenting 55 boats in the 18th century - with the caught pilchards (sardines) also being exported to France. To appreciate Mousehole, take a walk around the harbour - and the small streets. The village is highly photogenic, so don't leave without a few photos of this quintessential Cornish fishing port.

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Culture-Museum
PK Porthcurno, Eastern House, Porthcurno, Penzance TR19 6JX, UK

By 1913, the British Empire consisted of 23% of the world's population, or some 412 million people. It had taken nearly a quarter of the world's land mass under its control. In order to establish timely communications in an era before radio, and where transportation was limited to sea vessels, the British government of the 19th century commissioned the Falmouth, Gibraltar & Malta Telegraph Company with laying an undersea cable between Britain and India. The original plan had been to land the cable at the docks at Falmouth in Cornwall - however this was changed to the small coastal village of Porthcurno in order to avoid any accidental damage by mooring ships. From the landing point in Porthcurno, the communications lines made their way up to London. On the 23rd of June 1870, in a remarkable feat, the first near-instant communication was made between Bombay and London. Subsequent cables were laid across the seas, arriving at Newfoundland in Canada, Spain, France and Gibraltar. During World War II, Porthcurno became a target for the Nazis, and local miners were drafted to move key equipment, cables and personnel into newly dug underground tunnels - protected by flame throwers. These tunnels may be visited at the museum. The highlights of the museum are a photographic collection, telling the story of the cables and the original in-place telegraphic equipment. Photo Credits: By Tony Atkin, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12488110

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Nature-Beach Nature-Cliffs Nature-Ocean Nature-View point
Godrevy Towans, Gwithian, Hayle TR27 5ED, UK

About half a mile from the village of Gwithian lies Godrevy - an area of outstanding national beauty popular with surfers, walkers and bird watchers. There are two National-Trust-run car parks, and an excellent two-floor wooden cafe located at the lower car park. I have been here several times for coffee and cake and had lunch here twice - the food being both healthy and tasty. If you park at the car park by the cafe, and walk toward the right corner of the car park when facing the sea, you will reach a small river - cross it at the bridge. You can now wander freely across the sand dunes, or walk down to the beach. If the wind is favourable (generally, if it's off-shore), you can get some great surfing conditions here. Waves can be anywhere between 2 and 6 feet on the face. The beach is popular with surfers from all around, but non-experienced surfers should be cautious of the powerful waves and currents. If you park at the upper car park (another few hundred metres along the same single track lane passed the lower car park), you'll be parking up on the headland. There are public toilet facilities available here. Walk across the field along the path near the toilets and you'll reach fenced off cliffs. Stay well away from the cliff edge - keep children and pets under strict control. Look below and you'll see a local seal colony. There are signs advising you to be quiet in order to not disturb them. Look across the sea to see the 12 acre Godrevy Island - with the white light house landmark perched upon it. The island lies about 300 metres off the Godrevy Point shore. You'll also see "The Stones", which extend about 1 mile out to sea - visible throughout the bay of St. Ives. The Stones have caused many shipwrecks over the ages, and eventually lead to the construction of the lighthouse in 1859. The sandy beach at Godrevy extends 3 miles (5 kilometres) back toward the town of Hayle. When the tide is out, it is possible to walk the entire distance along the beach. Photo Credits Dan Hill

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Accomodation-Hotel Entertainment-Playground Nature-Cliffs Nature-Ocean Nature-View point
Land's End, Sennen, Penzance TR19 7AA, UK

Land's End is the name of the most westerly point in mainland England - right at the most south westerly tip of Cornwall. It's a famous landmark and the end point for many-a "John O'Groats (Scotland) to Lands End" expeditions. The geography at Land's End consists of tall grassy granite cliffs over the often rough sea below. There's a pathway that allows visitors to safely walk along the cliff tops. A sign marks the distance to New York (3147 miles) and John O'Groats (874 miles). It can be very windy on the cliffs at Land's End, so come dressed appropriately. Look out to sea, and 1.25 miles away, you'll see the 12 metre high Longship's Lighthouse - completed in 1873. The original paraffin light was electrified in 1967, and the new electric light could be seen up to 19 miles away. The lighthouse was automated in 1988, and today it is therefore no longer manned. In the late 80s, a theme park and hotel complex (The First and Last Inn) was built at Land's End. There's a playground for children, a 4D Film and a few other attractions for children. Twice a week, there's a firework and classical music spectacular "Magic in the Skies". There are 2 shops: "Penwith House" - selling nautically themed gifts, and "First and Last House" - selling Cornish Ice Cream, refreshments and toys for kids. At Land's End you'll need to pay for parking - which is currently 6 pounds.

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Nature-Beach Nature-Gardens
Trebah Garden, Trebah Garden Trust, Mawnan Smith, Falmouth TR11 5JZ, UK

If you're looking for a place to truly relax, I'd recommend a visit to the meandering pathways though the tree laden valley of the sub-tropical Trebah Garden. Once you enter the 26 acre Trebah, there are multiple routes to take - although all lead down the valley. Originally planned as a garden back in 1831, the garden fell into disrepair between the years of 1939 and 1981 following the death of the owner. In 1981, Tony and Eira Hibbert acquired Trebah and started what they thought would be a 3 year project to restore the garden. 25 years later, they were still working on the project - but by 1987 the gardens were formally opened to the public. By the year 2000, annual visitor numbers had reached 100,000. Fascinating for young and old alike, is the "Gunnera Passage" - an almost jungle like experience in the summer months - where you can walk through a plantation of giant 2 metre high Gunnera plants. Throughout the gardens, you'll find interesting plants that seem to sit well in their surroundings. There's a water garden and koi pool toward the top of the valley, and a stream that leads through the entire garden, passing through various ponds until it reaches the private Trebah beach ("Polgwidden") at the bottom. Here, you'll also be welcomed by a cafe selling teas, coffees, freshly made cakes and ice creams. You'll need to be refreshed before you start your walk back up the valley! Children under 5 receive free admission - and there's an adventure playground "Tarzan's Camp" under the trees for little ones to enjoy. Photo Credits: Dan Hill

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Culture-Museum
Pendeen, Penzance TR19 7EW, UK

Having spent my teenage years in the late 80s and 90s living in west Cornwall, I'd heard about the rich mining history of the area, and seen plenty of mine ruins lining the landscape. Mining in the area dates back to at least 2000 years BC, and continued until the closure of the last working tin mine in Europe - South Crofty, near Camborne in 1998. Geevor Tin Mine, located at Pendeen in Cornwall, operated until 1991. Today, Geevor is open as a museum - and an exceedingly good one. I visited it in 2012 and I finally got a sense of what life was like for the miners. This is not a museum with a few old photographs and models to look at - this museum is the actual mine, workings and machinery that existed when the mine ceased production. It actually feels like the miners could have been working just a few hours before you arrived - time seems to have stood still. There's a guided walking tour into the entrance of a mine shaft - which gives an introductory taste of working underground. Then there's the miner's locker room where you can see where they changed for work and showered after. The tool bags and safety equipment that hung around their waists and their safety helmets hang on the walls. The machine room showing the huge engines is fascinating, as are the sorting conveyor belts where the ore was carried after extraction. I can wholeheartedly recommend visiting Geevor Tin Mine - it's highly educational, interesting, interactive, and very real. Children under 4 get free entrance. A family ticket for 2 adults and up to 3 children costs £49.75. Photo Credits: Dan Hill

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Nature-Beach Nature-Estuary Nature-Ocean
Saint Ives TR26 3DT, UK

Porthkidney Sands is a north facing and long beach accessed from the village of Lelant, near St. Ives in west Cornwall. It is a favourite setting for many paintings - including several of the most famous and much loved works of the artist John Miller - who passed away in 2002. I love this beach - there are great views along the Hayle Towans (3 miles of golden sands), a view toward Godrevy lighthouse in the distance, Hayle River estuary on the right (popular with bird watchers), a long array of sand dunes behind, and granite cliffs to the left. The tide goes out a very long way! There are a couple of access points to the beach - the easiest to describe being to park near St. Uny's Church in Lelant, and then walk to the left of the church along a public footpath. The footpath soon crosses the land of West Cornwall Golf Club - take head to follow any safety advice (basically, stay on the path until you reach the beach). At the end of the path across the golf course, you can choose to continue straight, underneath a small railway bridge and down some steps to reach the side of the estuary. Turn left here to head to the main beach. Alternatively, you can turn left instead of going under the bridge, and walk along the side of the golf course on the marked path. You will soon reach an iron railway bridge with a path to cross it on your right. Head along this path into the sand dunes, pass the lifeguard hut, and down to the beach. This route may require some scrambling down the dunes! The beach is dramatically different at each state of the tide. At low tide, it can be quite a long walk to the sea itself. You can bring your dogs on the beach all year - and indeed this accounts for the popularity of the beach with dog owners. But don't worry - this is a very large beach! The beach is mainly popular with walkers - most beach dwellers use the beaches of nearby St. Ives - so this could be a good spot if you fancy some relative peace and quiet.

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Transport-Boat trip Transport-Harbour
Penzance Harbour, Penzance TR18 4AH, UK

The Scillonian III is the main passenger and cargo ship sailing between Penzance on the UK mainland, and The Isles of Scilly, located to the south west of Lands End. The ship lands at Hugh Town on St. Mary's in the Isles of Scilly. The service runs between Easter and November from Monday to Saturday. There are additional on Sundays during the summer. The crossing time is approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes. Pets can accompany passengers, but an additional fee must be paid at the time tickets are purchased. Check in to the boat is required 1 hour before scheduled departure. As a passenger, this feels a little excessive, as it means that you're on the boat for nearly 4 hours per crossing. However, on board you'll find a counter serving drinks and snacks. During Covid times, alcohol is not being served. To find the boat and the Ferry Terminal, head to the harbour wall at the far side of Penzance Harbour, past the Dry Dock, and next to the Scillonian III ticket office. You won't be able to miss the large white boat, as it's the only passenger ferry sailing from Penzance harbour. The check-in offices are currently located on the pier of the Ferry Terminal itself. The advantage of turning up a little earlier is that you have greater choice over where to sit on the boat. It the weather is fair, and the temperature not too cold, you can sit on deck to the rear of the boat. Otherwise, there is plenty of seating inside the boat, and an additional level down below. Top tip: If you want views of the mainland and St. Mary's (recommended), sit on the right hand side of the boat (when facing the front of the ship). On return to the mainland, you'll be wanting to sit on the left hand side of the ship. The views are absolutely worth seeing from the boat. Along the coast of the mainland between Penzance and Lands End, passengers are treated to a view of the cliffs, villages and coves. On my trip, we even saw a pod of dolphins jumping out of the water between the boat and the mainland. There are one or two lighthouses out to see along the journey, too. Upon arrival at the Isles of Scilly, you'll also want to enjoy the views of the islands as you sail in. A pair of binoculars or a camera with a telephoto lens will allow you to enjoy the view even more. The crossing between Penzance and the isle of St. Mary's encounters some strong currents - particularly around the area of Lands End. To combat sea-sickness among passengers, the boat design incorporates a "Flume" antiroll stabiliser system. Even so, if you're susceptible to sea-sickness and the sea is not calm, you may benefit from taking anti-sea-sickness medication before setting sail. Passengers who are suffering are advised to move to the bottom of the boat, where there is also a dedicated area for sufferers. Owned and operated by the Steamship Company, the 68 meters long Scillonian III was purpose build in Devon, England, in 1977. A narrow draught was incorporated into the ship's design to allow it to sit on the sea floor at low tides - and to also enable travel along the shallow channels at the Isles. The tide at St. Mary's reaches nearly 6 meters.

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