National Geographic : 1967 Jul
Swishing sea of December daffodils parts beneath the tread of St. Mary's pickers. Sur rounded by oceans of bright flowers and blue water, Scillonians learn to steer boats and snip stems with equal skill. Evergreen hedges protect plants from savage winds. Although ordered by the British Government to raise more vegetables and fewer flowers during World War II, islanders still managed to send bootleg blooms to flower-hungry England. EKTACHROME© NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY tossing around the Atlantic almost always offers in those waters. Or you can fly-from Penzance, a 20-minute trip by helicopter, or from Newquay by plane. Flying is the most memorable way to come. The Scillies are all rocks and hills, and none has a really flat field of any size. The one small airfield clings to the brow of a green hill near Hugh Town. A sign says, "St. Mary's Airport: Keep to the Road," which seems sound ad vice. Nevertheless, to have one's first view of these isles from the air is ideal. Was This the Fabled Lyonnesse? As my plane came over them, islands, islets, and rocks of all shapes and sizes seemed afloat in the clear water. I could appreciate how the islands, now carved by subsidence and stormy sea, may formerly have been a single land mass. Legend tells that the fair fields of Lyonnesse once stretched from Cornwall to the Scillies, though scholars aver that any link with England ended long before man's coming. Yet the islands are undoubtedly a con tinuation of the granite backbone of Cornwall, making a final thrust above the sea before dropping forever into the Atlantic depths.* "People have lived here since long before the Christian Era," my banker friend Cyril Short of Hugh Town told me as we tramped St. Mary's moors and hills. Mr. Short himself testifies to the attraction of the Scillies, for he came on a tour 29 years ago and stayed. "Men may have been here for 4,000 years or more," he said. "We've got almost three times as many known ancient burial chambers as in all the rest of Cornwall-45 of them. They've been here at least two and a half thousand years, so the archeologists tell us." We walked over the gorse and bracken mantled hills on the springy, sandy earth that covers most of the granite. The purple *Alan Villiers told of his travels from "Cowes to Cornwall" in the August, 1961, GEOGRAPHIC.