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THE Isles of Scilly with its beautiful beaches, azure seas and wonderful views are a sheer delight, as Iwan Gabe Davies found out.

THERE is a British paradise, a group of tiny islands just 28 miles off the Cornish coast of Land’s End that provide the perfect antidote to the stresses of modern life.

There are five delightful inhabited islands to explore in St Mary’s, Tresco, St Martin’s, Bryher and St Agnes, plus countless unpopulated ones to discover.

Getting to the island was a great adventure in itself. I flew from Cornwall’s quaint Newquay Airport (www.cornwallairportnewquay.com) to the main island of St Mary’s in a 19-seater Twin Otter propeller plane that cruises along at a 166mph and gives you breath-taking views on the way.

My base was the superb award-winning Star Castle Hotel (www.star-castle.co.uk, rooms start from just £79 a night) which features in the 2017 Good Hotel Guide.

Steeped in history, it was built in the late 16th Century as a fortress, a defence after the invasion scare following the Spanish Armada and the Barbary pirates who once terrorised these outcrops in the Atlantic.

These days, thankfully, the buccaneers are long gone and it is now a luxury four-star hotel that is regarded as the best on the islands.

Occupying its imposing position on top of a hill, it offers wonderful vistas of the bay and is just a short stroll from Hugh Town’s harbour, pubs, shops and beaches.

With garden rooms and castle rooms, my wife and I stayed in a Superior Castle Room, which was seriously cosy, bursting with full of character and beamed ceilings, a two-poster bed and a sea view.

Dining here is a real treat, whether you plump for a hearty full breakfast or chose one of its much admired two restaurants, one in the castle, the other in a conservatory in the grounds, for dinner.

Fish is understandably a strong suit here, with the dressed local crab to start and pan fried seabass with seared scallops as a main, both out of the top draw.

The staff are about as good as you would find anywhere and a great asset and they pick you up from the airport on the way in and drop you off back again when it’s time to go home.

Two other great places I’d recommend for foodies on St 7 Tuesday, November 15, 2016 southwalesargus.co.uk Mary’s are the highly-regarded and lovely Juliet’s Garden Restaurant (www.julietsgardenrestaurant.co.uk), just above Porthloo Beach, and Atlantic Hotel (www.atlantichotelscilly.co.uk) in Hugh Town which does decent steaks and lovely St Austell ales.

It’s great fun to go island hopping on small boats which form part of ferry services which run between the isles.

We went on one to gorgeous Tresco, which takes around 25 minutes from St Mary’s.

Family-owned, it is home to the wondrous sub-tropical Tresco Abbey Garden (www.tresco.co.uk/enjoying/abbey-garden), hailed as a perennial Kew without the glass, with thousands of exotic plants from all over the globe and where magnificent golden pheasants and red squirrels roam.

Don’t miss its fascinating Valhalla Museum which contains some 30 figureheads from sailing ships shipwrecked on and around the islands in the 19th and 20th Century.

The Isles of Scilly offer a wealth of leisure activities, from lovely walks to the beaches, kayaking, sailing, diving, fishing, cycling, horse riding, golf, seal or birdwatching, there’s never a dull moment here. You can also just take it easy as you like.

It’s no wonder people return year after year to these magical islands, often referred to as the Sunshine Isles, as they benefit from more hours of sunshine than other UK regions – averaging 7.6 hours a day in July Particularly appealing to couples and those with young families, if you haven’t been, there’s a fantastic experience waiting for you.

* TRAVEL FACTS: You can book your holiday with Isles of Scilly Travel.

Fly to St Mary’s with Skybus, all year round from Newquay and Land’s End Airports, and between March and October from Exeter Airport.

Prices start from £140 return from Land’s End Airport.

From spring through to late autumn, The Scillonian III Passenger Ferry sails up to seven days a week between Penzance and St Mary’s. Prices start from £90 return.

To book your journey, please visit www.islesofscilly-travel.co.uk or call 01736 334220.

Reserve your accommodation at the Star Castle Hotel on St Mary’s at www.star-castle.co.uk, info@star-castle.co.uk or call 01720 422317.