This corner of Scilly is sheltered from the worst of the weather by Scilly’s western islands, which act as bulwarks against the gales that roll in from the Atlantic. As a result, even in early spring and late autumn the sunny south-facing gardens and hillsides of St Martin’s are full of warmth and sprinkled with flowers. Shallow waters lap against the almost unbroken line of beaches and dunes. That changes as soon as you walk onto the north coat which faces the open sea. There is not a single field, farm or house to be seen here just dramatic granite carns and rock-strewn cliffs.
Land’s End stands on the horizon about 40km (25 miles) to the east, and at night the scene is lit up by the twinkle and flash of at least five lighthouses which mark the many reefs and rocks between here and the mainland. This was not always open sea, and when humans first arrived on Scilly after the last ice age, they may have walked here from Land’s End across a land called Lyonesse, now lost beneath the sea.
The Eastern Isles, which stand a little way south-east of St Martin’s, are all uninhabited now, but the remains of prehistoric fields, huts and tombs show up on Nornour, its neighbour Great Ganilly and Great Arthur. Sightseeing boats don’t land here but come in close to watch the seals that haul-out on the rocks around Menawethan and Innisvouls.