National Geographic : 1967 Jul
England's Scillies, the Flowering Isles Prime Minister Harold Wilson, who has a modest bungalow on a plot near Hugh Town. As Captain Phillips and I watched, the launches lying five abreast at the harbor steps filled up. Others waited off to take their turns. The sea was calm and the water so clear I could see the sea anemones and the rocks and shells on the white sand as if there had been no water there at all. Ashore no smoke rose anywhere to smudge the clear air, and the hotels and guesthouses backing on the beach gleamed in the bright sun. Outside the harbor the sea was a deep tur quoise, deceptively gentle in appearance. But I knew that dangerous cross tides raced among the myriad rocks and islets. The Scillies include 140 islands, of which only five are inhabited; no one has counted the rocks. Shades of blue in sky and sea delighted the eye, setting off the hard granite of the islands, and heather purpled the hillsides of St. Mary's. Gulls called to each other noisily in the main street of Hugh Town and, after the morning rush to the harbor and the boats, that was all the noise I heard. Beaches Aplenty for All Who Seek Them "You see the crowds on the quay, the filled up launches," said Captain Phillips, "but there are still plenty of beaches for everybody. Why, if they find two or three people already on a beach, they just walk on to the next. "But our Scillies are small. We don't want to get too popular. This summer we've even had a few queues. We don't like that." The Scilly Islands are indeed small. St. Mary's, largest of the inhabited islands, is two and a half miles long by a mile and a half ND KODACHROME BY BATESLIIHLtMHALtUN. .a.