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Introducing Isles of Scilly

They might only be 28 miles west of the mainland, but in many ways the Isles of Scilly feel like a different world. Life on this archipelago of around 140 tiny islands seems hardly to have changed in decades: there are no traffic jams, no supermarkets, no multinational hotels, and the only noise pollution comes from the sound of breaking waves and cawing gulls. That's not to say that Scilly is behind the times – you'll find a mobile signal and broadband on the main islands – but the people seem perfectly content for life to tick along at their own island pace. Renowned for their glorious beaches, there are few places better to escape the outside world.

Only five islands are inhabited: St Mary's is the largest, followed by Tresco, while only a few hardy souls remain on Bryher, St Martin's and St Agnes. Regular ferry boats run between all five islands.

Unsurprisingly, summer is by far the busiest time. Many businesses shut down completely in winter. Hotels are expensive and the B&B supply is limited, so many people hire a cottage instead – the two main companies are Island Properties and Sibley's Island Homes.

All the inhabited islands (except Tresco) have a campsite, but you'll need to reserve well ahead for July and August.