St Agnes

St Agnes is the most southerly inhabited island with 366 acres and a resident population of 90.

People of all ages love this island. It is safe, clean, very beautiful and also full of contrasts. The island’s most notable landmark is the lighthouse which was built in 1680 by Trinity House and was coal fired until 1790 when it was converted to oil, with copper lamps and 21 revolving reflectors. This lighthouse was the second to be built in Cornwall after the Lizard Light in 1619. It stands 74 feet above the ground and 138 feet above mean high water. It was superseded in 1910 by the Peninnis Lighthouse on St Mary’s. It now serves as a daymark for shipping.

The coast ranges from the amazing tombolo, a kind of sand bar called Gugh Bar which connects St Agnes to the smaller island of Gugh with its prehistoric standing stone “The Old Man of Gugh” and Obadiah’s Barrow to Beady Pool, the “Troytown Maze” (thought to be of medieval date) to St Warna’s well, the wonderful Church (no electricity here). The old lifeboat slipway and building is a reminder of the ragged western rocks, the scene of many shipwrecks over the years.

St Agnes is a favorite island for visiting birdwatchers especially in October. Many rare vagrant birds arrive here after their long migratory journey. In 2004 a Cream-coloured Courser was the first to be seen in Britain for over 20 years and a Little Bustard was recorded in March 2002 together with a Killdeer in November 2003. What will you spot in 2014?

The St Agnes Pilot Gig is the “Shah” 32 foot long, a traditional wooden working boat with six oars and a cox. She was built in 1873 by Nicholas Peters at St Maws. The gigs were originally used to take the pilots out to vessels and guide them through the dangerous channels around the islands. It was very competitive, the first gig to the vessel, being paid. Over the last thirty years the racing and number of gigs has greatly increased with over 100 being present at the Annual World Gig rowing championships the first weekend in May of each year.

There is no hotel on the island but refreshments are available at a number of cafes and the Turks Head Inn is renowned for its pasties and delicious freshly caught crab salads! There are boat trips available in the evenings in the summer to visit the pub for a pint and a pasty. For a cafe try the Coastguards Cafe or Covean Tea Rooms and all new is the Hightide Restaurant.

essey writer