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Tour Highlights

  • Enjoy an unforgettable swimming holiday amongst some of Britain's most spectacular scenery along the rugged coastlines of Cornwall and the beautiful Isles of Scilly

  • Complete a series of breathtaking swims, including coastal routes, circumnavigations and island-hopping crossings

  • Discover the stunning landscapes of some of the most isolated locations in the British Isles

  • Stay aboard the beautiful Lady of Avenel, a 102-foot Brigantine square rigger tall ship, throughout the duration of your trip

Discover some of England’s most beautiful coastlines and picturesque islands on this liveaboard swimming and sailing holiday in Cornwall and The Isles of Scilly. For over a decade we have been coming back to this spectacular part of the world to explore the rugged Cornish coastlines and the white-sand beaches of The Scillies.

Throughout the course of the week you will travel in style aboard the gorgeous Lady of Avenel tall ship. This 102-foot Brigantine square rigged ship is our home for the duration of the trip and comes complete with our very own on-board chef.

We aim to circumnavigate the Isles of Scilly (swimming, of course!) and undertake some epic, hard-to-reach mainland swims along the Cornish coast. The peninsula of Cornwall is one of the most isolated parts of the British Isles, and its warm climate, fabulous scenery and ancient Celtic heritage make it an exhilarating destination for the adventurous traveller. This trip is a truly unique adventure on the SwimTrek calendar and is an exciting opportunity to enjoy some spectacular adventure swimming and sailing.

Who is this trip for?

This trip is made up of a mix of crossings (Isles of Scilly) and coastal swims (Cornish Coast). Conditions will be challenging, yet extremely rewarding. Participants should be experienced open water swimmers who are comfortable in occasionally rough conditions. Due to the nature of this trip, there is a minimum swimming speed of 30 min/km (48 min/mile). No sailing experience is required, however the ship’s crew are happy for you to assist with on-board duties as much or as little as you like.

What's included?

  • Fully guided swimming holiday in Cornwall and The Isles of Scilly
  • Swim guides and full safety escort on all swims
  • Six nights accommodation
  • On board chef
  • All breakfasts
  • All lunches
  • All evening meals

What's not included?

  • Travel to and from the start of the tour


Daily Itineraries

Please note that the below daily itineraries are an example of the swims that may take place during the course of your trip, however, actual swim locations and distances will vary according to local weather and sea conditions. Your SwimTrek guides and local boat pilot will determine the most suitable swim locations each day and will communicate the plan with all guests as soon as possible. Sailing a tall ship by its nature brings the excitement of the elements. We sail when the winds are favourable, meaning a degree of flexibility is required as to when we we may sail out.

Day 1

We meet at the small fishing town of Newlyn, next to Penzance, and board our ship and accommodation, the ‘Lady of Avenel’, where we are given a tour of this classic square rigger as well as holding a briefing for the week ahead. We then head by boat the short distance outside Newlyn, from where we start off with a coastal swim along the Gwavas Cliffs on our way into the tiny, picturesque harbour of Mousehole.

It is then time for a well earned lunch and some time to relax as we make our way over to Marazion, Cornwall’s oldest town, from where we set off on a circumnavigation of the iconic St. Michael's Mount. It’s a fantastic swim as we journey out, around and back from this remarkable island. We’ll then spend the evening aboard the Lady of Avenel near Porthleven.

Day 2

Our first full day of swimming takes us out towards the remote Lizard Peninsula, the most southerly point of Britain’s mainland. Our morning swim sees us depart from the picturesque village of Porth Mellin and carry out our first a crossing to and then a full circumnavigation around the uninhabited island of Mullion, which is home to colonies of migratory seabirds.

Later in the day, we travel further down the Lizard to Kennack, where we undertake a stunning coastal swim featuring rocky landscapes, isolated beaches and inlets along our route. Passing the old Serpentine quarry at Poltesco, the fishing hamlet of Cadgwith is our destination. We aim to visit the Cadgwith Cove Inn, famous locally for its local shanty singing. Once aboard our ship, we head back towards Penzance in preparation for tomorrow’s itinerary.

Day 3

This morning is an opportunity to swim along one of Britain’s most iconic stretches of coastline as we swim from Sennen Cove and head out past Dr Syntax’s Head and then around England’s most westerly point at Land’s End. It’s an epic place to swim and one which is normally tricky to access. On reaching Land’s End, we have time for a drink before we carry on towards the Armed Knight rock where the swim will finish.

Once everyone is back on board, we motor around to the tranquil Porthgwarra Beach, which, as well as being an ideal lunch stop, is also the start point for our afternoon swim, directly below the world-famous Minack Theatre towards Porthcurno Beach. As you swim, the sheer cliffs plunge straight down below the waterline. These two swims, which are on the edge of the British Isles, are a real highlight of the week’s swimming.

Day 4

This morning the crew is up early as we weigh anchor and strike out across the Atlantic towards the Isles of Scilly, lying 20 miles southwest of Land’s End. We first approach the main island of St Mary’s from where we swim across Crow Sound towards the the island of St Martin’s. It’s possible to see kelp beds throughout the entire crossing before landing at Higher Town Quay.

After lunch on board the Lady of Avenel, we walk across St Martin’s to New Quay, ready for the swim to Tresco through a labyrinth of islands and stacks. On arrival into Tresco, and after a well earned rest, we walk along the island's northern coast and visit Tregarthen Hill and King Charles's Castle to view the next day’s swims before returning to St Mary’s.

Day 5

Returning to Tresco in the morning, we swim from Cromwell Castle (built after the fall of this Royalist archipelago in 1651) on the island’s west coast to Hangman Island, with its ominous gallows guiding the way, before making land on Bryher’s east coast. From here, we walk to Bryher’s rugged northern tip and then along the coastal path to Rushy Bay.

After lunch, we cross to the uninhabited Island of Samson, passing Puffin Island on the way.

Day 6

This is the day of the trip’s longest swim from St Mary’s to St Agnes. We walk across Hugh Town to the stunning Porthcressa Beach. We walk across Hugh Town to the stunning Porthcressa Beach. From here it’s into the water as we head out south to Biggal Rock. From this rock, we can see the island of Gugh which we target before arriving into the picturesque Porthconger Bay.

The afternoon is set aside for you to explore the area at your own leisure. The Gardens of Tresco and St Mary’s interior are just a couple of options that you may like to visit. On reaching High Town, we look for a safe anchorage to stop for the night and where there may be an opportunity to head ashore in the evening.

Day 7

We have our final group breakfast and say our goodbyes before this unforgettable swimming and sailing adventure comes to an end.

Trip Schedule

Start Point: Newlyn Harbour, Penzance

Start Time: 12:00 on Day 1

Finish Point: St Mary’s Harbour, Isles of Scilly

Finish Time: 10:00 on Day 7

Trip Information

In addition to your daily non-swimming clothes, we also recommend that you bring the following items:

Item Item
Swimming Costume (x 3) Sweater / Fleece / Thick Socks
Wetsuit Wooly Hat and Gloves
Swimming Goggles (x 2)* Thermal Layers
Sun Hat and Sunglasses Long Trousers
Waterproof Sun Cream Waterproof Jacket
Small Daypack Walking Shoes
Towel (x 2) Aqua Shoes / Sandals

*Try to bring one clear lens and one tinted lens for different light conditions.

There are no safes in the cabins on the Lady of Avenel, so valuables and other belonging are brought on board at your own risk.

Please note that SwimTrek will supply swim hats and provide water and electrolyte drinks in shared water bottles on your safety boat. If you prefer to use your own drink bottle, please feel free to bring one along. If you would like to use a wetsuit, rash vest or fins during your swims, please ensure that you bring these with you.

Important: It can be very cold both during and between swims, so we advise all guests to bring appropriate swimwear and clothing in order to be as comfortable in these conditions. We recommend that all guests bring plenty of layers which can be added and removed as required.

Swimming Distances

Swim Distance
Newlyn - Mousehole 2½km
St Mary’s - St Martin’s 3km
Tresco - Bryher 1km
St Mary’s - St Agnes 3km
Porthgwarra - Porthcurno 2km
Kennack - Cadgwith 3km
Marazion - St Michael’s Mount 2km
St Martin’s - Tresco 3km
Bryher - Samson 1km
Sennen - Armed Knight 3km
Port Mellion - Mullion Island 2km

Please note that these swims are an example of the what may take place during the course of your trip and should be used as a guide only. Actual swim locations and distances will vary according to local weather and sea conditions.

Swimming Conditions

Swimming in the sea is a fantastic experience, however you should be aware that certain marine life such as jellyfish could be present during the swims. In all cases we will work on reducing your contact with these creatures, however if you suffer from anaphylaxis, please consult the office prior to booking.

Walking Distances

The walking is moderate in both The Isles of Scilly and in Cornwall, where we use the South West Coastal Path on some occasions. Most walks take place on recognised paths and tracks, however there may be cases where we walk along trails or other unsealed surfaces and care should be taken in these areas. If you do not wish to walk any of the trails, you are welcome to remain on board the ship.

Temperatures

Month Water Temperature* Air Temperature*
September (Cornish Coast) 16-18˚C / 61-64°F 22-24°C / 71-76°F
September (Isles of Scilly) 14-17˚C / 57-63°F 22-24°C / 71-76°F

*Please note that these temperatures are indicative and should be used as a guide only.

Weather Caveat

For safety reasons, we rely on decent weather conditions when carrying out our swims. As a consequence, open water swimming holidays require a certain degree of on-trip flexibility which can result in changes to the planned itinerary. These changes often add a touch of uniqueness to your trip and will be communicated to you by your SwimTrek guides as quickly as possible.

Group Size and Boat Support

This trip has a maximum group size of 12. The group will be split into two groups, based on speed, with each group being accompanied by their own safety vessel/escort. 

Boat support on this trip includes one main ship and two support boats to be piloted by your SwimTrek guides and a local boat pilot. Please note that this boat support is subject to change without notice and cannot be guaranteed.

Getting There

There are a number of options for travelling to and from Newlyn Harbour, Penzance and The Isles of Scilly at the start and end of your trip. While we have outlined various travel options below, they are subject to change and should be used as a guide only. Whichever route you choose to take, we recommend confirming your travel arrangements as early as possible in order to avoid price rises and availability issues.

Driving to Newlyn Harbour

For those wishing to drive to Newlyn Harbour, Penzance, at the start of the trip, the postcode for the harbour is TR18 5HW. From London, the journey takes approximately 5-6 hours. The harbour offers weekly permit parking for £6.50 (cars only), however, this can only be purchased from the office, not at the pay and display, which is considerably more expensive. For a route planner and information about road closures or roadworks, please visit: The AA Route Planner.

Public Transport to Penzance

Penzance is the the southernmost station on the national rail network and is the terminus of the Cornish main line. Catching the train is a convenient and scenic way to get to Penzance and journey times from London are approximately 5-6 hours. There is also an option to catch the night sleeper train which arrives from London into Penzance at just before 08:00. For full details of the trains to Penzance, please visit: National Rail website.

If you prefer to travel by bus, National Express and Megabus run services to Penzance from many major UK cities, however, travel times can be very long. For timetables, tickets and further information please visit: National Express and Megabus.

Once you arrive in Penzance, Newlyn Harbour is located less than two miles west along the coast. This journey is short taxi ride or a 30-minute walk from both the bus and train stations.

Returning from The Isles of Scilly

This trip finishes in St Mary’s Harbour in The Isles of Scilly. To get back to the UK mainland, you can either travel by ferry to Penzance Harbour, or by light plane to Exeter, Newquay or Land’s End.

For further information about both travel options, please visit: Visit Isles of Scilly.

To make either a ferry or flight booking, please visit: Isles of Scilly Travel.

Getting There - TRIP 2: 9 Sep - 15 Sep 2018

Getting to The Isles of Scilly

This trip begins in St Mary’s Harbour in The Isles of Scilly. To get to St Mary’s from the UK mainland, you can either travel by ferry from Penzance Harbour, or by light plane from Exeter, Newquay or Land’s End.

For further information about both travel options, please visit: Visit Isles of Scilly

To make either a ferry or flight booking, please visit: Isles of Scilly Travel.

Practical Information

Accommodation

The Lady of Avenel is a 102-foot Brigantine square rigger ship with 12 guest berths and staff quarters. Originally built in Poland in 1969 as a tug vessel, she was refitted in 1992 and the ship made her film debut in 2016 in ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’, the sequel to Tim Burton’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’.

All cabins on the Lady of Avenel are offered on a twin share basis and include bunk beds. There are six guest cabins in total, with four slightly larger cabins which include a sink and two slightly smaller cabins without a sink. All guests and crew use shared bathroom facilities with two bathrooms located close to to the cabins on the lower deck and a toilet located on the upper deck.

Please note that due to the limited number of cabins on board, there are no single supplements or non-swimmer places available on this trip.

Luggage

Due to the limited space in the cabins on board the Lady of Avenel, we strongly recommend that guests bring soft, duffle-style luggage and that it is restricted to a maximum size of 40 x 70 x 40cm.

WiFi and Mobile Reception

There is extremely limited wifi and mobile phone reception on board the Lady of Avenel and it is entirely dependent on our exact location and signal strength. To be safe, it should be assumed that you will have no access to 3G, 4G or WiFi for the duration of your trip.

Meals

All meals are included on this trip and are prepared by our very own on board chef. With years of experience working on various vessels, our chef offers a high standard of food which will keep you well fuelled for your swims during the trip.

Extra Expenses

You should bring extra money with you to cover such items as trips to the occasional island pub and shopping on the few islands that have towns. The local currency is British pound (£).

Passports And Visas

Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are part of the United Kingdom. Non-residents of the U.K. require a full passport to enter the country, which should be valid for six months beyond the expected length of stay. Citizens of all E.U. member states, U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand are given ‘leave to enter’ the U.K. and do not need to apply for a visa. Please note that visa regulations are subject to change and we advise that you check your own visa requirements prior to travel.

Health Information and Recommended Vaccinations

For comprehensive health information for people travelling to the UK, including all recommended and required vaccinations, please visit Travel Health Pro. Please note that this information is subject to change and you should re-check this site regularly prior to your trip.

Travel Plugs & Electricity

The Lady of Avenel features UK-style power points in some cabins and in communal areas.

For a useful source of information on the different electrical outlets, electrical plugs, and electric sockets, please visit worldstandards.eu.

  • The water clarity around Cornwall and the Scillies was exceptional. The guides and crew were without exception superb. Expect to put weight on as the food is plentiful and tasty! The star of the show was the Lady of Avenel; we were lucky enough to be able to sail from Cornwall to the Scillies and it was magical when they turned the engine off and let the wind do the work.

    Lee R, UK - 2018
  • Flexible, challenging but non-competitive. A great mix of people. Skilful, knowledgable and good humoured staff. I felt safe but not cosseted or regimented.

    Crispin H, UK- 2017
  • Brilliant trip - exceeded all expectations

    Jane M, Australia- 2017
  • A great week, in good company with a great team.

    John O, UK- 2017
  • Exciting, fun , just a brilliant week.

    Jos S, UK-2017
  • Had a ball , great swims ,guests and crew all fab. Would do again!

    Olivia H, UK- 2017