ISLES OF SCILLY There are five inhabited Scilly isles – St Mary’s (the largest), Tresco, St Martin’s, Bryher and St Agnes – plus many other uninhabited ones to explore. Each island has its own distinctive personality and all of them are designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty; home to rare birds, unusual wildlife and beautiful flora and fauna. Hire a bike to explore more than 60 miles of tracks and trails, go on a marine excursion, including a cruise to the Bishop Rock Lighthouse, or join in the Walk Scilly Weekend (Oct 13-17), a long weekend of themed, guided walks across the islands. Tantalise the tastebuds at the inaugural Taste of Scilly festival (September 1-30) celebrating the best in local food and drink. Accommodation ranges from camping to hotels, B&Bs and luxury self-catering. Fly to St Mary’s with Skybus all year from Newquay and Land’s End Airports, and between March and October from Exeter Airport. The Scillonian passenger ferry runs from spring to late autumn. For bookings, call 01736 334 220. www.visitislesofscilly.com www.islesofscilly-travel.co.uk
CHANNEL ISLANDS Just off the coast of France lie Guernsey, Jersey, Sark, Herm and Alderney. Not strictly part of the UK but as Crown dependencies, they’re territories for which the UK is responsible… GUERNSEY With its Mediterranean-like climate, autumn is a lovely time of year to visit Guernsey, and it’s life in the slow lane – some small streets give priority to walkers, cyclists and horse-riders, and there’s a general speed limit of 35mph. Choose from miles of beautiful coastline to explore, boat trips to spot grey seals and puffins (www.guernseyboattrips.com), cycling tours (www.donkeysdaysout.co.uk call 07781 433 611 for group discount details); kayaking, rock climbing, karting (www.outdoorguernsey.co.uk), and for history buffs, the German Occupation Museum (reduced entry for groups of 10 more) gives a taste of what Guernsey life was like under German occupation. (www. germanoccupationmuseum.co.uk) or visit Hauteville House once owned by Victor Hugo. The group gourmets can sample the various autumn food festivals or go wild food foraging. Accommodation suits all tastes and group sizes, www.visitguernsey.com/ accommodation and Aurigny and Flybe operate year round services. Condor Ferries has departures from Portsmouth and Poole, with big discounts on day trips for groups of 10-plus passengers. Call 0845 609 1024 www.condorferries.co.uk www.intransit.gg and www.icw.gg provide coach and bus transfers, also excursion tours and tailored itineraries. www.VisitGuernsey.com www.guernseytrademedia.com/grouptravel
JERSEY Jersey combines the best of British with a more than a hint of French savoir-faire. Covering 45 miles, it’s renowned for its harbour views, golden beaches, rugged cliffs, hidden coves and castles. Famous also for its maritime heritage, the island is a paradise for groups who want to get together for an adventure on the ocean: sailing, kayaking, sea trips and yachting. Hire a bike and explore 96 miles of cycle routes, or don your walking boots for the Autumn Walking Festival, September 10-25. www.visitjersey.com has a free online accommodation booking service with comprehensive details of hotels, guest houses, hostels and camping. Fly to Jersey in around an hour with British Airways, EasyJet, Flybe and Blue Islands. Condor Ferries sail from Poole and Portsmouth, who offer group discounts, the level of which depends on the time and date of travel, and when the reservation is made. Call 0845 609 1024 for information. www.condorferries.co.uk www.visitjersey.com
ISLE OF WIGHT Often referred to as the UK’s Dinosaur Capital, the Isle of Wight is an isle of contrasts, its west coast rugged and unspoilt and a must-visit for fossil hunters. Contact the Dinosaur Isle Museum, 01983 404344 (www. dinosaurisle.com) for group entry discounts, also for fossil walks. Or head to the east coast for a leisurely walk along the miles of sandy beaches. There are festivals galore to enjoy this autumn, including the Literary Festival (October 12-16), Festival of Light (October 1 to November 5) and the Buses and Beer Weekend (October 15 and 16). Plus mountain biking, tennis, golf and water sports – and don’t forget to sample the Ventnor Bay crab and Isle of Wight beers and ciders. www.isleofwight.com has details of deals and offers on where to stay, what’s on and much more. Wightlink runs two car ferry services, Portsmouth to Fishbourne, and Lymington to Yarmouth.
Discounted fares for 10-plus foot passengers or groups of 15 or more cars, call 0333 999 7333 for details, www. wightlink.co.uk Red Funnel ferries operate from Southampton to East Cowes, www. redfunnel.co.uk www.isleofwight.com www.visitisleofwight.co.uk
SCOTTISH ISLANDS What a wealth of islands there are north of the border – the Hebridean Isles – including Harris, Lewis, Skye and Mull; Orkney and Shetland, Arran, Islay and Jura – it seems invidious to leave any out as they all have so much to offer. On Orkney enjoy spectacular cliff walks to RSPB Marwick Head, to the Old Man of Hoy and discover puffins, sea eagles and otters. When island-hopping to Arran, Islay and Jura, visitors can see the Corrywrekan whirlpools. Mull is Scotland’s wildlife haven with wide sandy beaches and it’s home to golden eagles, otters and white-tailed eagles. Go on a whisky pilgrimage to Islay or tread in the footsteps of George Orwell who wrote his novel 1984 on the ‘next door’ island of Jura. HF Holidays are Scottish Island experts and can organise your island holiday from start to finish, whichever one you
choose, including accommodation at welcoming small hotels, getting you there, and groups receive one free place for every 15 adults booked. www.hfholidays. co.uk/activities/groups. To book, call 020 3424 6162 www.hfholidays.co.uk www.visitscotland.com
ANGLESEY It’s only a short hop to cross the Menai Straight from mainland Wales to Anglesey but a few days on the island will seem like another world. Watch red squirrels at Dingle Local Nature Reserve, dive beneath the waves to explore shipwrecks, take a walk on the 125-mile Angelsey Coast Path or simply take in the fabulous views in Anglesey’s garden, parks and woodlands. Families can visit Anglesey Sea Zoo (groups of 10 or more, call 01248 430411) www.angleseyseazoo.co.uk or bring history to life on the Anglesey Family Trail. Autumn is the ideal time watch migrating Manx shearwaters, skuas, gannets and guillemots on the rugged headland of Pont Lynas. Pitch a tent or rent a house down by the beach, enjoy 5-star hospitality, rent a selfcatering cottage or even a luxury caravan. More details at www.visitanglesey.co.uk www.discoveranglesey.com