Cutting inland after leaving Innisidgen, we went south to Maypole, then took the path through Holy Vale, which leads through a lovely little nature trail, between trees and over brooks. As we were getting pressed for time, this route was direct, but was well worth taking anyway, just for the pleasure of the tropical flowers and the lush vegetation that St Mary's supports.
We came out on Higher Moors, where a duckboarded path skirts a lake that is obviously a haven for birdwatchers, with hides all around. Out into Porth Hellick, passing a curious quartz standing stone monument erected to the memory of Admiral Sir Cloudseley Shovell (I kid you not) whose ship was wrecked nearby in 1707.
We cut straight up the hill to the north east, sadly missing the majority of the tombs here (we'll be back), but passing Ocifant's IKEA rock.
Out onto the top, and there, surrounded by bracken, is the most fantastic tomb of the lot! What an amazing thing! Its restoration is less faithful than it might be, but this is an awesome site. To make the visit perfect, the whole of the top of the tomb was carpeted with blue and yellow wild flowers and the sun was out in force. We had the inevitable scramble inside, finished the last of our food and headed back down the hill.
This massive, carefully restored cairn was given its name after excavation and renovation in 1899. It's a real platform, rising maybe a metre of an half from the level ground and is edged by kerbstones all the way round and has a diameter of around 6 or 7 metres. It has a long low chamber topped by big capstones with a tight squeeze of an entrance partly blocked by a deliberately placed slab.
I was desperate to paint its soft, cushiony shape and hang out here a bit! But as it was, the wind up here was howling so I was only able to do a notated sketch whilst we munched our picnic. I was happy to get in the long chamber, not least to get out of the wind which felt colder as the sun disappeared behind the thickening clouds.
Although this is probably the Scillies' main 'hollywood' site, I didn't like it here as much as the Innisidgens.
There are apparently 8 tombs in total here. The main one is well signposted, and has been restored by EH. I managed to find two of the others in the thick heather, as well as a strangely sculpted rock that looked like two IKEA armchairs, before the rain finally started. The landscape is difficult to make out, the various lumps and bumps looking like a lunar landscape hidden in the plush heather.
This is the largest and best preserved of a group of eight on Porth Hellick Downs. It is 40ft in diameter with a 12ft passage of leading to a chamber covered with four capstones. Entrance is aligned to the Long Rock Menhir.