An early start this morning for our day of mucking around on boats and meeting the ancestors. The Scillonian III plies the route between Penzance and St Mary's twice every day at this time of year (3 times a day in summer). To call the boat utilitarian is generous, and probably a more modern craft would be quicker and smoother, but the Scillonian gave you a real sense of the isolation of this little circle of islands. The 2 1/2 hour trip sticks close to the coast until Land's End, providing spectacular views of hidden villages and grand houses (including John Le Carre's).
Arriving at St Mary's we were met by Paul's water taxi service for the 15 minute dash across the water to Higher Town Quay.
The islands are picture-postcard pretty. Beautiful white sandy beaches and rocky promontories edge a clear aqua sea. St Martin's is the third largest of the group of islands. 2 miles long with a single concrete road barely wide enough for a large car, we weren't sure what to expect in the way of services.
The last thing I expected to find here was a bakery in a restored barn up a picturesque lane which produced food I've come to expect from some of the more cosmopolitan destinations I've visited. There was an amazing range of breads, pastries, quiches and more, all made on site using ingredients sourced locally, including flour grown and milled in Devon. Vegetables and herbs are grown on the island, seaweed from the beaches is included in the sundried tomato and feta sourdough loaf.
The beef in our enormous pasties came from the nearby island of Tresco and the smoked salmon in David's quiche was locally caught by owner Toby and smoked on site. Toby is an Irishman who first came to St Martins on holiday in 1982 and returned to live 10 years later. He is self-taught and believes strongly in sustainable and local production. Despite some hardship, he really is living the dream!
We only had 3 hours on the island, enough time to visit the cemetery to look for Ellis graves, and chat to a lady at the post office who was born and raised on the island as were her mother and grandmother (I think we're probably vaguely related!)
The St Martin's Bakery runs week-long baking courses, and David and I are already thinking It might be a reason to return!
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Location:Gwavas Ln,Penzance,United Kingdom