We manage our land for people and wildlife, maintaining permissive footpaths and bridleways for people to access our wildlife sites or enjoy a walk around coastal footpaths.
There are no public Rights of Way or "footpaths" on the Isles of Scilly; due to the fact that all land is either leased from the Duchy of Cornwall or is Freehold. The Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust are tenants of the Duchy of Cornwall; therefore all paths on Wildlife Trust sites are permissive, which you are welcome to use.
There are two nature trails on St. Mary's, through Higher and Lower Moors where there are several bird hides and raised boardwalks to improve the visitor experience.
In areas where grazing is taking place we put up temporary electric fencing around a "grazing compartment"; wherever possible we keep permissive paths and tracks open. We also try to offer alternative routes for walkers or horseriders for those who do not wish to go in an area with livestock.
On sites which are accessible to a wide range of people, wherever possible we install push gates or stiles and where appropriate these are wide enough for a child's all terrain buggy. Signage is put up letting the public know what sort of animals are grazing in that area.
Uninhabited islands - space for nature
A careful balance is required to ensure that wildlife is not disturbed and has space to thrive. For this reason certain uninhabited islands are closed on a permanent basis and others have areas of limited access during bird and seal breeding seasons. These closures are voluntary and we ask you to respect them to help our internationally important breeding seabirds.
Boating and exploring Scilly's seas
Whether you choose to explore the islands by kayak, yacht, motor boat or by diving underwater there are things you can do to minimise your impact on the wildlife and wild places.
Please respect wildlife particularly during bird breeding season (April to September) and the seal pupping season (August to December).
Please do not land on closed islands (see map) – they are sanctuaries for breeding birds and seals which need breathing space away from human disturbance. There are many other islands for you to enjoy.
When anchoring your boat, try to look for clear areas and avoid anchoring in eelgrass (seagrass). These underwater meadows are home to many juvenile fish and a myriad of other species.
Boat users should maintain a slow steady speed when approaching seals. Watch their reaction to your approach and adjust your behaviour and distance so that you don’t scare them off the rocks. Seals need to ‘haul out’ on rocks to digest their food and disturbance can be harmful to them.
Kayaks can approach wildlife silently and have the potential to surprise and frighten it. Please take care not to approach seals and birds too closely, especially if they have not seen you.
If you visit the seals, watch them for a while and then move away to give them space. It is best to limit your time and to stay away from the rocks that they use.
If you want to see seals up close or in the water it is best to go on an organised trip, it will be an unforgettable wildlife experience for you and it will be led so that seal disturbance is minimised.
Let curiosity be the only reason for seals to visit you, never feed wild seals and remember that seals have strong claws and sharp interlocking teeth.
If you are lucky enough to see dolphins or porpoises try to stay at least 100m from them, allowing them to approach you if they wish. Please do not scare them by driving head or moving between them. The same applies for basking sharks.
The shrimping season runs from 1st July to 30th September. Not taking shrimps at other times of year helps to sustain their population.
Taking shellfish is discouraged in order to protect their populations.
The islands offer spectacular opportunities for divers but please take care not to kick delicate and slow growing marine life like pink sea fans with your fins. Lines can damage and entangle marine life and should be removed after the dive.
It is recommended that dive boats ask advice about where to anchor for the dive sites to avoid damage to marine life.