About St Martins - home to the Island Shoemaker
23 miles off Land’s End lie the Isles of Scilly, the legendary land of Lyonesse, which, even today, exist as a haven of peace and tranquility with unspoilt beaches, heather-strewn moors, amazingly clear blue waters and wild headlands. St Marys is the main island, with a population of around 1500, but there are four off-islands - St Martins, Bryher, Tresco and St Agnes, St Martins having a resident population of around 100 people.
At the eastern tip stands the distinctive Daymark, on the highest point of the island - 47 m above sea level - and ruined coastguard cottages. In former times, the Daymark functioned as a marker for shipping but today acts as a magnet for visitors and their children who clamber round exploring the ruined cottages, with their granite chimney stacks and overgrown gardens, still clearly marked. At the opposite end of the island, amidst the carpet of wild flowers, former islanders and tourists alike have woven intricate mazes out of the small granite boulders, creating strange circles of stones. Everywhere there are tiny fields, hedged with evergreen species that would not survive a mainland winter; sandy lanes and tracks criss-crossing the moors of gorse and honeysuckle; bays where the sand arcs from one headland to the next, skirted with marran grass and exotic succulents.
Nowhere on St Martins is more than a stone's throw from the shore. The sea dominates the life of islanders and visitors. All supplies are boated to the island. Everyone must come and leave by boat. The sea protects the island from many of the negative influences of mainland life - very few cars, very little industry to pollute its air or water. The result is translucent turquoise waters in which to swim and row, fish and sail.
Each island has its own gig, a six oared rowing boat about 30 feet long, and, every Friday, these island gigs battle it out in races between the islands, enthusiastically followed by visitors and islanders alike. Sport is a key element of the islands social life, from rowing and cricket to running, the island hosting the annual "Daymark Dash", along with more recent competitions such as the 10k charity run, holiday makers being encouraged to compete.
The main occupations on the island are traditionally flower farming and fishing though tourism has become the mainstay of the island economy. EU funding has encouraged the development of many cottage industries in recent years and St Martins now has its own silver jewellery workshop, potter, seasalt producer, as well as postal flower business, organic vegetable growers and, of course, the Island Shoemaker. The island also offers visitors a choice of gastronomic venues. The award winning Adams Fish and Chips provides freshly caught island fish and island grown potato chips and Little Arthur Cafe and Bistro serves snacks, lunches and evening meals all using produce freshly picked from the nearby farm and meat raised on the island. Dotted throughout the island are a range of small cabins, chalets and cottages offering holiday accommodation for people seeking to escape the pressures of modern life who are in search of the unspoilt beauty of these small islands.