One of the highlights of our recent trip to the Scillies was being able to go to Teän, an uninhabited island in the northern part of the group. It’s easily seen from many parts of the Scillies, but isn’t easy to get to in the normal course – unless you’re part of an organised trip, as we were, or have your own boat, which we don’t(!).
The approach to the island is quite impressive as one goes fairly close to a number of other uninhabited islands.
As there is no quay on the island, the landing has to be by boat, by disembarking onto an inflatable dinghy which does the final part of the journey to shore.
When we landed, we were surprised by the amount of natural beach debris there was, presumably allowed to accumulate undisturbed by humans and their animals. Jen quickly acquired an impressive handful!
What was more depressing was the amount of plastic and other waste that had washed onto the island, and reflected the growing problem that’s being recognised locally as well as globally.
As well as enjoying being on a deserted island, I was very keen to see the place where St Theona had had her dwelling. She was a Celtic hermit living in about the 8th century. At that time the island was connected to St Martin’s at low tide and would have been a bit less isolated than now; but despite that it still reflects the desire of Celtic mystics to seek out and live in desert places.
The other location known for it’s Celtic hermitage is St Helen’s, an island we weren’t able to get to because of the weather, but easily seen to the west of Teän.
After we’d got back to St Mary’s, Jen and I spend some time poring over the photos of St Helen’s to see if we could see the chapel of St Elidius, the 7th century Celtic monk who was a hermit there. By correlating the information on maps with the photos, we’re fairly sure it’s the low stone wall just above the shoreline to the left of centre in the photo to the right.
As Teän has one of the higher hills in the Scillies, it also has one of the best views. The panorama below takes in a 180-degree view from Tresco on the left, past St Helen’s and Round Island (with lighthouse), to White Island and St Martin’s to the right.
It was a very memorable trip – and if we get the chance to go again, we’re keen to go to some of the other uninhabited islands.